Senior Lauren Martin is half Irish on her dad’s side, and an official citizen of Ireland. So when she got the opportunity of her dreams through IE3, a global internship program through the University of Washington, she jumped on it. On the blog she started back in June to document her trip, she said, “I’ve always wanted the opportunity to live in the country I love so much, and now that opportunity is staring me in the face, about to come true.”
“I kind of was looking at other countries, but I always knew I was going to end up in Ireland because I am Irish,” she said. Because of those Irish roots, she was able to stay with her great aunt and uncle, relatives she had only met once before.
Martin, a Law, Societies and Justice major, worked at Brophy Solicitors, an office that dealt with family and human rights law. In her time there, Martin was part of the immigration department, where she helped gather evidence for clients’ case files and wrote blog entries on new developments in immigration law. In collecting the information needed for her work, she had the opportunity to interview clients about their stories and needs as they searched for asylum from their home countries or wanted their families to join them.
“I really enjoyed talking to people,” Martin said. “That was the best part of the job for me. I loved talking on the phone when clients would call; I loved meeting them and getting to hear their stories. Someone’s coming in and telling you how their family was killed so they had to flee, and you have to professional but also understand that it’s a huge gift that they’re telling you this, that they trust you and they believe that you can help them.”
During her time at the solicitors’ office, Martin had to become familiar with the European Union law system; it was actually suggested to her to avoid learning too much about U.S. human rights law, as it had little impact on her work in Ireland. For her, it was satisfying to become so intimate with EU law, since she was later able to put that knowledge to good use when reviewing client applications.
But the aspects on EU law on paper weren’t the only things she got to enjoy about the system.
“I was able to go to the supreme court of Ireland to sit in on a case—just because I felt like it,” Martin said. “To have that opportunity was amazing. I would never be able to just walk into the Supreme Court here, first of all because it’s so far away, and second of all because it’s just completely inaccessible.”
In her 12 weeks in Ireland, Martin was not only able to have a trip full of rich experiences, but she also created an Irish life for herself. She even attended a big family gathering: a celebration for her great aunt’s birthday.
“I made Irish friends and had this job and I started volunteering when I was there. I went on a date. It felt very organic and just like real life to me. I got as genuine of an experience as I could have made it, and that was awesome,” the senior said.
It was a life experience that made her realize how she wanted to continue her life.
“I learned I want to be a lawyer—just not yet. It was hard to sit in the office all day, so I want to go do some type of field work first,” she said.
Would she go abroad again, given the opportunity? Oh, yes.
“I’ve completely caught the travel bug now,” she said.
For more information about IE3, visit their website at http://ie3global.ous.edu/campus/uw/.
To check out more about Lauren’s adventures in Ireland, read her blog at http://luckyenoughtobeirish.wordpress.com/.
This article was composed by Kristine Kim.