Savanna Maue of Breese, Ill., who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication with an emphasis in journalism from Southeast Missouri State University, spent a month studying abroad in Armagh, Northern Ireland, through ieiMedia’s Armagh Project.
Through the program, Savanna enhanced her journalistic skills and learned about playwriting and creative writing. She also learned about website design, photography, and taking and creating videos. She was also the webmaster for the group’s website.
“I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome,” Savanna said. “The people I met were so interesting and intelligent and an overall joy to work with.”
The ieiMedia Armagh Project allows students to spend the month of July in Armagh, Northern Ireland, studying three different tracks in reporting/multimedia, creative writing and playwriting. Students select a track and study that track for the month. Armagh was selected as the city because it is a combination of modern and ancient Ireland, according to the ieiMedia website.
While in Ireland, Savanna stayed with seven other students in a hostel in Armagh and walked about a block up a hill to their classroom.
The students in the journalism program were asked to create as many pieces as they could, with one of the requirements being a long feature. For her assignments, Savanna created a three-minute video of the Belfast murals and an opinion piece on the differences between Ireland and America. Her longer feature was about segregated schooling in Ireland between Catholics and Protestants and the different methods to bringing the students together.
The instructors of the program also asked her to serve as the webmaster of their ieiMedia Armagh Project website, http://ieimediajournalists2013.wordpress.com/. Its purpose was to compile all of the group’s pieces and experiences while in Ireland.
For the playwriting aspect of the trip, each student created a 10-minute play about something they were interested in, using Ireland as their inspiration. Savanna performed in one of her fellow students’ plays. Their works were presented at the 26th annual John Hewitt International Summer School, which was held the last week she was there.
“That was such a wonderful experience, to share my work and my peers’ work with people who not only appreciated it, but understood it,” she said.
Two weekend trips, one to Dublin and one to Belfast, were planned by the program. They had two other weekends free to explore as they wished.
“I took those opportunities to travel to the Antrim Coast to see the Irish Sea and travel to Londonderry to see the giant wall that encompassed the entire city. Everywhere we went was so beautiful in completely different ways. Whether it was the history, the nature or the culture, I completely enjoyed everywhere I went,” Savanna said.
Savanna said one of the best experiences was during the Fourth of July weekend while walking to a barge in the harbor to listen to some traditional Irish music. While most shops closed by 8 p.m., they found a small restaurant open. The group was very tired at that point and ordered something to drink. Just then an American song started to play.
“We all started laughing and began to cheer up – after all it was the Fourth of July. The waiter made a point to turn the music up for us and we ordered some cheeseburgers with extra ketchup - which is red sauce, as they call it – and made many toasts to the wonder that is America. You don’t realize how much you miss being in America until you’re not there for a traditional holiday. That night was special to me because we all became closer that evening and had a lot of fun celebrating our wonderful nation while doing so,” Savanna says.
She says she would love to visit Ireland again.
“The price and timing was right and this was an opportunity I couldn’t afford to waste. It was my biggest adventure to date. And I am so glad I went with my gut and did it,” Savanna says.
Currently, she works as the editor for The Arrow, the student newspaper at Southeast, and advises students to get involved in activities and organizations on campus.
“Get involved,” she says. “Don’t wimp out on an activity just because you don’t think you’ll excel at it. Chances are if you’re passionate about something you’ll do great. The Arrow and intramural softball are two of my best examples. I was terrified when my friend asked me to be on his co-ed softball team. I literally have hit a softball maybe twice in my whole life. But it is a lot of fun, everyone’s there to have a good time and I count it as a workout. So throw yourself into an activity – you’ll meet some fantastic people and have fun doing it. No matter how dorky it is, the great thing about college is you’re never alone in your passions.”