In November, Christina Campbell and her wheelchair blazed a trail through Ireland and N. Ireland as part of the week-long study abroad course with the Master of Science in Conflict Management (MSCM) program. To get there, she had to overcome some unexpected hurdles.
In the past, studying abroad often seemed like an impossible dream for students who use wheelchairs. Remember, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply abroad---where cobble stone streets, three-story walk ups and steps onto busses are the norm. The MSCM faculty and staff worked to assure the hotels and sites would be as accessible as possible. Fellow students agreed to help push or carry Christina's chair up any steps that could not be avoided-everyone pitched in. The highest hurdle was financial. There was no funding mechanism to pay for the airfare and travel costs for Christina's healthcare helper. This was about $2500. This cost is not covered by financial aid or campus funds and the deadline to meet these financial requirements were looming. Luckily, her classmates and professors in the Conflict Management program used a GoFundMe site and raised the money in about 48 hours! Teamwork in action.
Along with her classmates and professors, Christina visited Dublin, Belfast, and Derry/Londonderry where she learned about the region's troubled history and contemporary efforts to create a sustainable peace. Due to the timing of the trip, Christina and her cohort experienced the US Presidential election while in N. Ireland, allowing them to better understand European perspectives on American politics.
Christina and her classmates embodied collaboration in this effort from start to finish. By working together, they made this a memorable and meaningful experience they won't soon forget.
Posted: February 1, 2017