As editor of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, I first collaborated with the faculty in the Department of Clinical Speech and Language Studies at Trinity College Dublin while recruiting a manuscript for publication. The partnership turned out to be such a good fit that the faculty there enthusiastically agreed to host me for a Fulbright award during the first six months of 2007.
Compelling opportunities existed at that time that dovetailed with Fulbright’s mission of promoting international educational cooperation. I consulted with the department faculty during the earliest stages of a specialist course leading to a master’s degree in acquired neurologic speech and language disorders. The course was introduced the term before I arrived and provided a unique look into the similarities and differences between graduate education in Ireland and the United States. I also collaborated with my counterpart, Margaret Walshe, on the standardization and publication of a profile that measures the impact of speech disturbances following stroke and Parkinson’s disease on the quality of life of individuals who have experienced these conditions. I also lectured to undergraduate and graduate students and supervised two master’s theses.
Other highlights include providing an invited lecture at the University of Newcastle, consulting with the staff and lecturing at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin, lecturing at the summer study day of the Adult Acquired Communication Disorders Special Interest Group of Ireland, and organizing a study day for neurogenic communication disorders at Trinity College with visiting American colleagues.
Within the department, the curriculum offered chances to observe and participate in innovative approaches to teaching, such as problem-based learning. There were also opportunities for clinical development through exposure to Ireland’s socially based philosophy (versus the more medically-oriented approach popular in the United States) to clinical practice. Multidisciplinary study opportunities were also available by meeting with faculty and attending lectures at the Institute for Neuroscience.
Historically, I couldn’t have been in Ireland at a more exciting time. My residence coincided with the momentous agreement ending “The Troubles” in which power-sharing was established in Northern Ireland between the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein. I was also present for the elections that selected the Taioseach (Prime Minister) and members of the Dail (House of Representatives).
Living and working overseas had other benefits as well. I visited England, Spain, Poland and Switzerland. I also visited family and found other relatives, and got to see the house where my grandmother was born for the first time and visited the graves of my great-grandparents.
My Fulbright experience offered me opportunities that I never would have enjoyed otherwise and resulted in personal friendships that endure some 14 years later. It was truly life changing. In the years since my award, I’ve advocated many times for the Fulbright program to colleagues who have expressed an interest. I feel very lucky to have been afforded such a wonderful opportunity.
Richard K. Peach – Fulbright to Ireland 2007