Time for Reflection: A Personal Impact of Cothran Center’s Trip to Northern Ireland


Furman attracts driven students. Many students double major. Even more students are involved in at least one of Furman’s 150 student organizations. Over two-thirds of the student body completes internships in addition to learning in traditional classroom settings. While all of these things have value as worthwhile work experiences and as network builders, our current system at Furman provides more than enough opportunity to complete checklists for success. There is value in disconnecting for a little while to reflect on why all of these opportunities and networks ultimately matter.

I participated in a trip to Northern Ireland sponsored by the Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection during Spring Break. Twelve students and two faculty and staff members spent the week studying the conflict between Catholics and Protestants, as well as the techniques used by a nonprofit called Corrymeela to foster peace and reconciliation. We also used what we saw there as a platform to discuss the conflict we see in our daily lives at Furman and in the United States as a whole. Although I doubt I will ever go back to that beautiful country, I learned things there that I never experienced at Furman. Because of that weeklong trip guided by reflection I was able to return to campus with a fresh perspective on what I have been studying all semester. I am now more invested in what I have been working towards in my studies and in my student organizations—I do not approach things as “resume builders” and I no longer get involved with extracurriculars simply because I think they will help me network in the future.

It is unfortunate that I had to fly across an ocean to learn the value of reflecting, especially since Furman considers itself a leader in “Engaged Learning,” the type of education that extends beyond the classroom and enthuses every aspect of its students’ lives with a passion for deep understanding. Moreover, it is difficult to look beyond the rat race of resume building that most, if not all, students dedicate a majority of their time to and truly see this ideal goal of our education.

Slowing down and reflecting on the “why” of an end goal is just as important to making dreams reality. It is probably more necessary in the long run than simply checking off the “hows” by becoming hyper-involved simply to cultivate a strong resume. It is about time we had an education system that recognized and actively supported this in its quest for a truly engaged education.

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