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Teachers flock to make Galway their base for a month

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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!

CITY TRIBUNE

Party-goers in Galway hit with Covid fines

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has issued a renewed appeal this week for young people to desist from organising or attending any house parties as the local Covid-19 situation worsens – last week Gardaí were called to break up a number of gatherings in different parts of the city.

A total of 15 people were found to be attending one house party in the Salthill area last weekend while Gardaí were called to two other smaller gatherings – one in the Doughiska area and the other in Rahoon.

Cautions and Fixed Payment Notices (fines) were issued to a number of those involved. This week, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has pleaded with young people ‘to stay away at all costs’ from such gatherings.

“We have very high Covid incidence rates in the Galway area over the past week; death rates from the disease are at their highest ever level; and the last thing we need now is groups of people coming together in confined settings.

“If one person has Covid at such a gathering then, in all probability, most others there will pick it up too and spread it their contacts and family members. I am pleading for people just not to do this.

“We are entering into our most critical period in trying to contain the spread of Covid-19, with the next month or so absolutely vital in our efforts to keep everyone healthy and safe and to try and avoid further loss of life,” he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Community gives new lease of life to Merlin allotments

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – In 2018, the allotments in Merlin Woods were in danger of falling by the wayside, with declining numbers and underuse blighting a facility that had huge potential.

Since then, the community has pulled together to create a space that locals are proud of and one that its advocates are hoping could be a template for other communities across the city.

Chairperson of the Committee behind this new lease of life is Michael Tully, who says the allotments have become a focal point for area, bringing together locals from all walks of life.

“It’s all about netting the community together and the response we’re getting has been unbelievable,” says Michael, who joined the committee in 2018.

“I started off as a user of Merlin Woods, walking by the allotments and thinking to myself that it would be great to grow my own fruit and veg.

“I started talking to a few of the plot-holders like John Rabbitte, Martin Lohan, Jim McCormack and Daithí O’Brien and they told me how to apply. I applied to the City Council and got my allotment in early 2018 and there were about eight allotments in use at that stage, all of us working away on our own.”

Two years later, all 42 allotments are in use, but it took the cooperation of Galway City Council and Trojan work from the community to get it to this point, explains Michael.

“We came down here every Saturday to clear the paths, dig out the weeds and make the place better. The sense of community was unbelievable. Anyone who couldn’t dig was bringing down flasks of tea and cakes to those that were,” he laughs.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

National Transport Authority to progress Galway’s Park and Ride

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A dedicated unit established within the National Transport Authority will look at the potential of Park and Ride to help solve Galway City’s traffic congestion problem.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said that Park and Ride facilities should not be restricted to the east, and sites needed to be located to the west and north-west to take account of commuters from Connemara.

Mr McGrath said Park and Ride would be advanced this year as part of the Galway Transport Strategy. He said that the Council, in conjunction with the dedicated unit within the NTA, would investigate feasible sites for the location of Park and Ride facilities.

Mr McGrath said that site selection and acquisition of land could commence in the second quarter of this year. He said he expected that Park and Ride would be progressed well before the Galway City Ring Road was built.

Director of Services for Transport, Ruth McNally, also said that the NTA was looking at the potential of sites in the city for Park and Ride and she insisted that money – or a lack of it – was not halting progress.

“Money is not a major issue for capital projects,” she said.

They were responding at Monday’s City Council meeting to councillors who lamented the slow progress on developing Park and Ride.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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