Setting off from Donegal at 1am, I was really anxious but excited for the two weeks ahead. I met with my fellow awardees, Rose, Niamh, David, Aideen and our leader Rachel, all of whom I had already gotten close with at our Pre-departure Workshop.

After a long flight, a strange meal in Reykjavik airport and some serious sleep deprivation, we arrived in Boston where we met with the camp counsellors who brought us to Vermont.

Spending two weeks in Vermont was one of the craziest and most rewarding two weeks of my life. I got to meet people from all around the world, from Florida to Iraq to Spain, making connections and friendships with so many people. The days were so packed, filled with strawberry picking, swimming in the lake, volleyball and barn dances.

We had a two hour interest group everyday. I chose politics, which was incredible as I got the opportunity to learn about the American political system, corruption, gun legislation and foreign policy. We also had a number of other workshops, ranging from the War in Yemen to White Supremacy. The workshops weren’t only highly engaging an interesting, but also extremely emotional and heartfelt.

The highlight of my trip was the Fourth of July, especially marching in the parade. We marched, displaying our posters on social issues we had made the day before. After, we went to the lake for a swim, followed by a massive BBQ and finally fireworks.

My time in Vermont was incredible and I’ll never forget the friends I made and what I learned from my experience there.