BY MÓNA WISE
Every Summer, students pursuing an MA in Educational Technology (online) from Michigan State University (MSU) have the option to enrol in an exciting overseas summer cohort programme.
The programme appeals to innovative educators, who thrive in a fast-paced environment, enjoy collaboration, and crave an exciting professional learning experience for one, two, or three summers in an overseas location.
Leigh Graves Wolf, a professor in Educational Technology at Michigan State University, has been heading up this programme for nine of the 15 years this course has been in place, and has recently made Galway a permanent annual destination for this programme.
“We chose Galway because it is a vibrant city on the edge of Europe with easy access via Dublin and Shannon, and there is no language barrier. For years, we convened in France but decided last year that we needed a change and ended up in Galway.
“Our students are well catered to by the locals and we have comfortable accommodations near NUI Galway, where all the classes occur. We had such a great experience last year, we have decided to make Galway a permanent location for our annual summer programme.”
Teachers from all over the world descended on the city last Sunday and will spend their days in class up-skilling to earn their MA degrees.
Prof Wolf, as the programme coordinator, has a lot of extracurricular activities lined up for the students, like day trips to Connemara and the Burren, a spot of fishing, and plenty of culturally-rich experience for the multi-national group like an Irish lesson from the employees at McCambridge’s followed by a drop of Irish coffee.
And it works – as past visitors intimated.
“After spending last Summer in your wonderful city, all I have to say is that the number one place in the world where I would love to retire is Galway, Ireland,” said Brent D Zeise from Bangkok.
“I feel like I am right at home in Galway. Friendly and social people, green grass and everyone appreciates good food and drink,” added Jillian McSweeney Nicodemus from Istanbul.
Although there are small scholarships available from MSU, the funding comes almost entirely from the teachers’ personal savings.
Some of them do make a vacation of a lifetime out of it and arrange for the rest of their family to join them. Others take the month to work efficiently on their studies before heading back to their day-to-day lives.
“We like to get the group together as quickly as possible to start the bonding,” said Prof Wolf. “Our first outing, a cruise on the Corrib Princess, which gives everyone a chance to get to know, or get reacquainted with, each other.
“As we are here in Galway for the entire Arts Festival, there is no shortage of things to do for the group and this is a huge attraction for us.”
At least half of the overseas students teach at international schools around the world or in US Department of Defence Schools. The teaching practices for this group of students revolves a lot around the Maker-style of education whose mission is to create more opportunities for all students to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in Science and technology, engineering, maths, art and learning as a whole, through making.
Because the student body is global, instruction in the overseas programme focuses on core ideas and research that inform good learning, teaching and technology integration.
Chris Sloan, now a permanent resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA and also a UCG alumni explains how he feels about returning to Galway.
“A lot has changed since I went to school at what used to be known as UCG in the ‘80’s; but what has not changed is the vibe of the place. Whether it is the beach at Salthill on a Summer day, the bustle on Shop Street, the music in the pubs – it’s no wonder people flock to this city. Whenever I go back to Galway, it reminds me of what a joy it is to be alive,” he said.
‘Staycation’ has been used so much in recent times that it’s almost clichéd – except that it seems we are all embracing it.
And if a group of 50 international teachers can also decide to make Galway their home for one month every Summer, it can’t be all that bad!
Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction
Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.
A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.
Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.
“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.
Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.
“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.
Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.
Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.
“We need to put some science on this.
“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.
Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.
He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.
“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.
“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.
Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.
“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.
Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags
Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.
This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.
One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.
“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.
He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.
“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.
Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.
“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.
“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.
He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.
“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.
Boil water notice issued for Barna area
A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes
The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.
The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.
The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.
Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.
Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.
Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.
In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.