The door is green. Shamrocks adorn the walls. Signs hang in Gaelic. Boxes of Ireland’s Barry’s Tea sit on the table. “Where am I?,” you may ask.
No, unfortunately, my closet is not a magic door that allows me to appear in the Emerald Isle on my own personal whim (I wish!). However, the office where I am working is quite the mini-Ireland unto itself. (It’s my substitute for walking around Dublin—I’m trying over here!) . When searching for summer internships in late winter/early spring, I was on the lookout for something that I would be truly passionate about, a job that would allow me to wake up in the morning excited about where I was going. And, it was not long before my love for Irish literature brought me to CUNY Lehman’s Institute for Irish-American Studies. My job entails scanning in and transcribing books that are in Gaelic to a computer system that will allow the students to get ahead on the work they will face in their Irish language courses throughout the upcoming semester. The program the students work with is actually incredible; it places the document in to a Microsoft Word-like program which allows them to click on a word and view not only its definition, but also its history. Additionally, I will be working in their archives, evaluating the status of various books.
There is no denying that I love the work itself; being exposed to advanced Gaelic texts on a daily basis has encouraged me to continue working on expanding my knowledge of the language independently over the summer. Most importantly, however, the people I work with and for are just incredible. The professors I have encountered thus far have been extraordinarily patient, and helpful, teaching me the ins and outs of the campus, the work I’m doing, and, furthermore, the steps that occur once the text moves from my hands to theirs. I’ve been working with CUNY for three days now—and I can honestly say that the experience has already made me even more excited about eventually pursuing my Ph.D. in English (if that’s possible!)
It is quite common to hear the phrase “Céad Míle Fáilte” in Ireland, a phrase which translates into “a hundred thousand welcomes to you.” I certainly feel as though CUNY has extended a hundred thousand welcomes to me—especially seeing as I’m already invited to their staff barbeque on Friday! 🙂