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Alison Castel

Instructor, Peace and Conflict Studies Program
Peace & Conflict in Northern Ireland (Belfast & Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland)

Did you study abroad as a student? What was your international experience like?

I studied abroad in Spain when I was in college.  I did a semester-long program in Sevilla where I studied with other North Americans.  I had an incredible experience living abroad independently, meeting new people, trying new foods.  This new way of life definitely shaped me in many ways.  One thing I felt was missing was a close connection with local people.  The Global Seminar in Northern Ireland will rely heavily on meetings with local people!

Why should International Affairs majors study abroad?

Studying abroad is a unique experience that can expand students’ understanding of the world and their place within it.  Life experience abroad combined with academic guidance is an unparalleled way to engage and learn.  Students of International Affairs will gain legitimacy in their field by engaging in rich, internationally-based, academic learning.

What is your favorite Irish food?

Shepherd’s pie.

Alison CastelWhy is Northern Ireland such a good place to study this topic?

Northern Ireland is an emblematic case of conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  It is heralded as a model for understanding how a society works to break with a violent history and transition into a more peaceful society.  With the help of the international community, Northern Ireland has had the funds to implement peace building programs, dialogues, and create educational institutions that the world can learn from.

What aspect of this program do you look forward to the most?

I most look forward to learning about the issues and the conflict from people who experienced it.  It is often in those moments that things that I thought were one way become more complex.