Tom and I were delighted to officially welcome our twelve UCD STEM Summer Research students last night over dinner! What an enjoyable evening it was and a reminder that Zoom will never ever replace the joy of in- person human contact! It was also wonderful to be back in the company of Tom who I met on a bench by the canal before stepping on board La Peniche boat restaurant with the students! Like most of us, last time we met was March 15th 2020!
Our students are settling in well and many seem to have embraced the five days of quarantine without issues. Some said they didn’t even watch one movie during that time and used it as a way to catch up on sleep and read. They have already visited some of Ireland’s finest sites and are now busy making plans to go to Belfast in Northern Ireland and learn all about the Troubles and more. The majority have now begun their research and seem to be excited to get really deep into the work.
I think that being here during a pandemic seems to have brought this group together in a different way than before. Perhaps being here for almost two weeks before they entered the labs has given students the opportunity to create a better sense of community. They are also here at a time where they can witness the happiness of Irish people as the vaccine rollout continues and restrictions lift.
There is so much going on this Summer in Dublin and Ireland and during the month of June, its all about Pride. We will invite the students to keep this year’s Dublin Pride theme of Community in mind and explore the city and country through a different lens.
We will meet the group again in less than two weeks to experience Gaelic Games and learn about the role of Irish football, hurling and even dance play in keeping communities alive in Ireland. I have a feeling this group will embrace this and other new experiences with a different type of energy.
Lets hope this is the start of many more welcomes in a true Irish way!