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Education Abroad in Ireland


Instructor Ann Foley from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Instructor Ann Foley (center) explains the marquetry veneering process to Virginia Tech student Zoe Carroll (left) and other students. Virginia Tech students designed and produced the marquetry to represent their impressions and experiences in Ireland.

March 13, 2014 – By Bob Bush

How are culture, natural resources, and design related? No, not a pop quiz. Instead, this is the question explored by thirteen Virginia Tech students as they traveled to Ireland during spring break as part of the course, SBIO 3954. The course promotes cross-cultural engagement while learning how culture, design, and natural resources are interconnected. Sustainable Biomaterials Professor Robert Bush led the course with the assistance of Dr. Earl Kline who is on research leave in Ireland.

Students began investigating the question in Blacksburg by studying Irish history and how Ireland is perceived in the United States. Each student in the course was paired with a student at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Letterfrack, County Galway, Ireland and challenged to work together on two projects. After several videoconference sessions and numerous e-mails, they traveled to Ireland to meet their partners and spend a week working together. Virginia Tech students gained hands on experience as they learned the art and skills of marquetry from their Irish partners. Also, VT and GMIT students worked together to help reestablish native woodland in Connemara National Park. After their travels in Ireland, students returned to Blacksburg where they reflected on their experiences and wrote a paper on a topic they developed while in Ireland. Students complete the course with an enhanced appreciation of Ireland as well as Irish culture and its impact on the United States.



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