It’s been about 48 hours since our debacle at the Dublin airport, and feeling a bit under the weather this morning; probably due to the stress and lack of adequate sleep. I’ve received mostly positive feedback to my idea of coming back to Ireland alone, along with some suggestions.
I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the continuing responses from my friends and acquaintances in Ireland to our situation. Dave Winer, whose software I used for many years and whose writings I follow closely, has written extensively on “friendship” and how the term is bandied about somewhat loosely by netizens. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet any of the people who have been so supportive of us face-to-face, yet they are genuinely moved to write eloquently on their blogs and make phone calls to authorities on our behalf in their attempts to assist in our entry. Conn and his family offered us lodging and transportation while we got ourselves settled into Cork. These are not things people do for mere passing acquaintances. Whether we are able to get this situation resolved quickly or forced to return to Hawai‘i, I will never forget the efforts made on our behalf, and vow that I will be able to thank my friends in person some day, no matter what the cost.
Conn’s additional commentary this morning brought me to tears. On a professional level, he is correct. I have a tenure-track assistant professor position at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. I was granted this position without a Ph.d. because at the time my Masters in Hawaiian Language and Literature was the terminal degree in the field, and because our university system’s president agreed with our faculty that I possessed a unique set of skills that were essential to the continued success of our college’s programs.
I don’t need to be in Ireland for the sake of my job. I had many options when I began researching my options for doctoral research, both within the US and outside. My own college offers a Ph.d. in Indigenous Language and Cultural Revitalization – the only such degree in the world that I am aware of. As a faculty member, I could have pursued that degree at nearly no cost to myself. I was offered a spot in the Ph.d. program at Otago University in New Zealand, where the exchange rate is much more favorable to people from the US, but after searching my soul I knew I wanted to return to the land of my ancestors to continue an experience that began five years ago when my wife and I attended Oideas Gael.
Some of my colleagues would have preferred that I remained in Hawai‘i, at our own college, to pursue my Ph.d. in our fledgling program. But they supported my desire to go abroad, even at the cost of me being away for nine months, because they knew how badly I wanted to return to Ireland, and because they recognized the value and benefit to our college to have someone with a Ph.d. from a prestigious institution such as University College Cork.
I do not need to be in Ireland for professional reasons. I need it for my soul.
Ten years ago I had little interest in Ireland or my own Irish heritage. I was busy working among those in the Native Hawaiian language and cultural programs, and solely focused on their technology needs. They accepted me as one of their own, despite the fact that I do not have any Hawaiian ancestry myself. When I entered our college’s MA program, one of the requirements was that each student spend time in a place where a people were facing issues with maintaining their native language and culture. I had no interest in traveling, and after acceptance considered petitioning our professors to excuse me from this requirement and allow me to complete some other project in its place. However, I had already begun to hear about the gaelscoil program and other efforts to perpetuate the use of the Irish languages. The more I read, the more excited I became about the prospect of visiting Ireland and talking to people involved in these programs. In 2002, that dream was fulfilled – my wife and I spent a month in Ireland, including 3 weeks of studying the Irish language at Oideas Gael in Co. Donegal. Since that time I have tried to find a way to return, and believed I had done when I was accepted by UCC.
I’m not giving up hope.