Emily Davis, a McKendree University junior from Alhambra, has received a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study at the National University of Ireland, Galway during the spring 2018 semester.
The Gilman Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education. Davis is one of nearly 1,000 undergraduate students from 386 U.S. colleges and universities to be selected for the program. Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs.
“Having the opportunity to visit the birthplace of Irish stories, folktales, and legends will give me a greater understanding of the development of literature in English,” said Davis, a professional writing major and Spanish minor. “I will also take a class on Irish Gaelic and the evolution of the Celtic languages, and how many languages across Europe can be traced back to a single base language. It will help me better understand the roots of the English language and how it is interconnected with multiple other cultures.”
At McKendree, Davis coordinates a group of students who visit the Cedar Ridge Health and Rehab Center, near the Lebanon campus, every Sunday.
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“The volunteers and I spend one-on-one time with residents that do not receive many visitors. We take them outside for walks, help them with recreational activities, and provide them with a safe space to share their feelings and life stories,” she explained.
While in Galway, she plans to visit nursing home residents who do not often receive visitors and, with their consent, to write down their stories and post them to a blog. The project will prepare her for a civic engagement course she will take, upon returning to McKendree, in which she will edit publicly viewed documents of Cedar Ridge’s senior residents.
Davis is McKendree University’s third Gilman Scholar. Victoria Cook studied in Costa Rica in 2013-2014; Lauren Craft spent a semester in Spain in 2014-2015.
The award is named for the late Congressman Benjamin Gilman, who served in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee. When honored with the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2002, he commented, “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”