Angels in Ireland

Mrs. Richardson
St. Joe students welcoming their exchange students to St. Louis!

St. Joe has offered numerous trips for the faculty and staff to partake in, inside and outside of the United States, but has not offered exchange programs where the St. Joe host students can go back to their exchange student’s homeland. This year, that has changed and so many St. Joe students have been able to travel across the globe to live with host families! One of those trips was to Letterkenny, Ireland.

During spring break, four St. Joe students and one faculty member were fortunate to go to Letterkenny, in the northern part of Ireland, for 2 weeks. The students were seniors Amanda Favazza, Bridget Sharp, and Lila Summers; and junior Emily Allen.

As the only junior on the trip, Emily didn’t let that stop her from having a good time and creating lasting friendships.

“Being the only junior was scary at first, but I could not have asked for a better group of seniors going. They made me feel like we had all been best friends, and I can now say I have three new best friends,” Emily said.

Within those two weeks, they were kept busy by their host families and traveled to many different places. Some of the places they went on day trips to included, Derry, Belfast, Dublin, Arranmore Island, Fanad, and Glenveagh National Park. They were also there over St. Patrick’s Day, which was very exciting, but it was interesting to find out that the Irish do not celebrate this holiday nearly as big as St. Louis does. They still party, wear green, and have a city parade that the students went to, but nothing as big as the traditions here.

School is very different in Ireland. They have gap years every other year where you can decide if you want to go to school or not. There are still classes available and actually, most people decide to go because it is a good way to still see their friends. The normal schedule is nine classes a day, but their classes are shorter and a lot of their learning is interactive and mainly through projects and they have “work experience” every Wednesday which is a day of service. Because of the other activities the St. Joe students had, they only attended 2 days of school, but said that it was a very relaxing environment.

Amanda loved the time she spent with her host family.

“Going to Ireland and living with a host family was a new experience, especially with being an only child, but my host family was like my siblings and I loved being with them. They were so welcoming and very kind, and this experience of being away from home also prepared me for college!” Amanda said.

With new trips coming up and memories that will last for a lifetime, it is recommended by many to take part in the exchange programs offered at St. Joe. It is not only amazing to travel across the globe and do amazing adventures, it is also a way to see your own city in a new light and be reminded how cool your city is when you’re the host family taking your student around St. Louis.