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Wesleyan Student Participates In Irish-American Scholars Program

April 26, 2012

When she left Wesleyan College to embark on a semester in the Irish-American Scholars Program studies at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, Kelsey Tinsman was not sure what to expect. A vocal performance and history double-major, Tinsman had plenty of travel experience under her belt, but she never imagined transitioning from a small women’s liberal arts college in Macon, Georgia, to living in a co-ed house with fourteen international students, or deciding to stay for a whole year rather than four months as originally planned. “But,” she said, “I love it dearly.”

Students who study abroad are often surprised at the differences in foreign education. Tinsman said one major difference is that Irish students jump right into their major studies rather than spending a year or two on general education or core courses. She believes Irish students are at a disadvantage for not having that exposure to knowledge outside their academic disciplines, but they are able to complete their degrees in three years and engage in much more independent study than students in America.

The workload is also a change from what double-majors like Tinsman are used to. Queen’s University students are allowed to take only three classes per semester. “It took me a while to get used to that,” she said. “I always felt I should be doing more.” In order to do more, Tinsman got busy learning to speak German on her own.

Not one to squander her time abroad, Tinsman has found time to travel to other European countries and has plans for future trips as well. Queen’s University organizes day trips to the Irish countryside, and she and her mother spent the Christmas holiday traveling the Republic of Ireland. A seasoned traveler before being admitted to the Irish-American Scholars Program, Tinsman plans to revisit Belgium and the Czech Republic before returning stateside.

Last summer, Tinsman traveled with the Wesleyan Concert Choir to Greece where they sang in the Festival of the Aegean. When she arrived in Belfast last fall, she was surprised to see a familiar face. She says of a Greek student also studying at Queen’s University, “There were 400 people singing ‘Carmina Burana’ in Syros and she and I were both part of it!”

Tinsman was raised in Tallahassee, Florida by a strong, single mother, a fact of which she is proud. Tinsman is a member of the Honors Program at Wesleyan College and was awarded the highly competitive Royal Endowed Scholarship for Study Abroad and the Lane Fine Arts Scholarship. After graduation, Tinsman plans to sing opera professionally and earn a Ph.D. in history or music.

The Irish-American Scholars program is sponsored by the Division of Higher Education of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. “Programs like Irish-American Scholars, Study USA, and the MISEN exchange network equip students at United Methodist-related schools, colleges, and universities to be sensitive to cultures and contexts beyond their own. Preparing global leaders for a global church is central to the mission of GBHEM,” says Assistant General Secretary Dr. Melanie Overton.