MAY 19, 2017 – LABELLE, FLA. – There are lands that some will only ever experience within the pages of a book. When students in the Introduction to Literature course walk into their class at the Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) Hendry/Glades Curtis Center, they too experience these lands through the words of some of history’s greatest writers.
However, this past spring, these literature students were given the opportunity of a lifetime, to visit these lands in person, when they participated in a study abroad trip to Ireland.
Organized through FSW’s Center for International Education, students traveled to Ireland to participate in a week-long program where they visited many of the locations that inspired the writers and poets they studied, including Bram Stoker and William Butler Yeats.
Experiencing for themselves settings like Yeats’ hometown of Sligo and Dublin Castle – the inspiration for Stoker’s Dracula – provided these students with a greater understanding of the authors and their works.
“After visiting Dublin Castle, I was able to fully grasp Stoker's dark, cynical tone in the story and description of Dracula's home,” said student Whitney Thompson. “I gained an entirely different perspective just imagining Stoker daydreaming out the window of his office that overlooked the medieval castle.”
One of the most memorable experiences for the students was being treated to a seven-course dinner at the family estate of eminent Yeats scholar Damien Brennon. In his family for three generations, and sitting beside a lake at the foot of the mountains, Brennon read Yeats’ poetry to the students as they looked outside across the landscape that inspired many of Yeats’ works.
“Yeats’ use of nature to inspire his writings was a mystery until I could see it for myself,” said student David Brown. “Damien Brennan’s home was just so beautiful, and it made me realize why Yeats was so inspired by the land.”
“It was one thing to read the literature by authors like James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, Stoker, and Yeats,” said student Jessica Scott. “But the culture, landscape and the people of Ireland make these stories come to life and have given me a new appreciation for their lives and literary accomplishments.”
While all of the students soaked in everything they could about the authors, to some the trip had an even greater meaning and took them farther than they would have ever expected.
“I’m from a lower middle class, single parent family,” one student said. “We never had any real opportunity to do any activities. This was a great experience that I will never forget. I am sincerely grateful for this chance to experience this trip.”
The trip was just one of many international, faculty-led learning opportunities coordinated by FSW’s Center for International Education. Past faculty-led trips have included Nicaragua, France, Iceland and South Africa.
Florida SouthWestern State College is Southwest Florida’s largest and one of the most affordable institutions of higher education. Annually serving nearly 22,000 students globally, FSW offers a variety of nationally-ranked, career-focused academic programs with two- and four-year degrees, and professional certifications. Students are also active in clubs and programs catered to their interests. FSW debuted its intercollegiate athletics program in January 2016. Visit www.FSW.edu for more information.