Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer


Here’s What Short Study Away Programs at UIS Have to Offer

A quote carved into a plaque on brick stones. | Photo Credit: Regina Ivy

What is Ireland’s biggest export? It might surprise you that it isn’t potatoes or alcohol – actually, it’s people. The transport of people across the globe was my focus this summer in UNI 460 – Immigration and Human Trafficking. This online summer course got us familiar with immigration and what it specifically has to do with Ireland, England, and Illinois.

Many early Illinois residents can trace their roots back to England and Ireland. In fact, one of Lincoln’s neighbors immigrated from a small farming community in the county of Yorkshire, which we visited. The connection to Lincoln’s Springfield tied into the Sangamon Experience Research Project, the collaborative exhibition housed in PAC’s lower level. As a part of the course, we, as students, were asked to choose someone who lived in early Springfield and trace their family lineage back to one of these countries.



The “study away” portion of the course was a two-week long program that took place on the campus of the University of Maynooth (very gracious hosts) and in the city of Hull. The first week was in Ireland, where we considered in depth how its Great Famine contributed to immigration. We visited Strokestown, the city affected the most by the famine. We visited Dublin, where we got to see the Jeanie Johnson (or rather, a replica of it), the boat used to take thousands of Irish immigrants to the New World. We visited the Irish Emigration Museum – a careful examination and delightful celebration of Irish heritage. And of course, we took in the vast, green beauty of Ireland on the way to each place.

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The second week, we traveled through northern England and the county of Yorkshire. It is here where we really focused on the human trafficking portion of our course. England has a very rich history, but it cannot be told without acknowledging the role of slavery in it. This is where institutions like the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull come in. They are dedicated not only to researching slavery in the past but to taking action against slavery in the present. It was in this institution where we had the privilege of attending the different presentations of students and faculty, who all spoke passionately on a topic relating to modern slavery. To supplement these talks, we visited the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. It was also fitting that we visited Lincolnshire to see one of the only four copies of the Magna Carta during this journey as well.


I only wanted to dip my toes into the world of studying abroad, and a two-week program in two different countries seemed like a good place to start. The best parts of the trip were when we got to engage with the college environments around us. In Ireland, we received a lecture from Dr. Ciaran Reilly about the famine which resulted in us being able to view and examine original primary sources from that era – a very rare experience for undergraduate students.

I also enjoyed being able to talk to other students from different countries. It was listening to their presentations and watching them interact with each other that helped me learn the most.

Study away programs are offered throughout the year for varying amounts of time, and the Study Away Programs office always has an updated list of what’s being offered, or how to propose a Study Away Experience not currently affiliated with the university. It’s very easy to find or even tailor a program suited for even the most specific requirements. The Study Away Programs office can be reached at [email protected].

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