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Study Abroad Travels to England and Ireland

Study Abroad group photo at Frederick Douglass Statue in Belfast

Focused on the topic of enslavement and trade in U.K. history, the travel abroad group visited the Frederick Douglass statue in Belfast city center. Douglass visited Belfast numerous times in the 1840s at the invitation of the Belfast Anti-Slavery Society.

For a group of 20 MC students, faculty, and friends, 2024 started with travel abroad to the United Kingdom for a nine-day excursion. The “England and Ireland” trip, co-led by Professors Emily Rosado and John Riedl, focused on the topic of enslavement and trade in Great Britain’s history, and on political prisoners and criminal justice in Northern Ireland. The group also encountered street art as political expression and, of course, British culture.   

In parkas and scarves, they enjoyed visiting the British Museum, the Museum of London Docklands, Hampton Court Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Dunluce Castle, Crumlin Road Gaol, and Titanic Belfast. The itinerary aligned with curricular material in Rosado’s Introduction to Literature course and Riedl’s African American History I.  

“This was a richly rewarding experience for all participants, and particularly so for me as co-leader,” Riedl said. “I was able to see participants of many ages interact with one another and with a new culture. Sharing their awe and wonder at Hampton Court Palace and Dunluce Castle, answering their historical questions, and watching them interact respectfully with local people created indelible memories.” 

Rosado points out that the U.K. experience, and travel abroad in general, provides wide-ranging benefits. “As someone who studied abroad myself, I know how transformative it can be to experience a different culture and different ways of thinking. I also think offering students the opportunity to view the United States, our home, from a different vantage point is incredibly important as we navigate an increasingly globalized workforce.” 

With an eye to the workplace, student participant Molly Martin paid special attention to museum operations. “I want to work in museums after my time at MC so this trip was incredibly helpful,” she said. “Seeing the different ways museums and historical places work in London and Belfast gave me some insight as to things we can do better here in the U.S. I feel more prepared to enter the world of museums.” 

Study abroad students in Belfast

Traveling to a new country can be a life-changing experience. My favorite site was the London Docklands Museum. It had an in-depth display on Britain’s role in the Transatlantic slave trade. What I particularly found interesting was a display that showed a map of the River Gambia, which was a path for transporting slaves, as well as the number of slaves taken and the countries where they were taken to be sold. I was born and raised in The Gambia. Having always learned about it in school, it was nice to see part of our history displayed on a global scale.”  

Musa Sillah, Nursing Sudent

photo courtesy Emily Rosado. Sillah (on far left)  

Daniel Velado, an MC alum who is currently studying music education at the University of Maryland, plans to use his U.K. travel experience to inform his future studies. “The travel experience emphasized the importance of learning different cultures and history of the world. I can learn the historical context behind much of the music I’m currently studying. My experience will also help me as I start ethnomusicology classes this fall,” he said. 

Nursing student Musa Sillah, who unexpectedly connected to his Gambian heritage via a museum exhibit in London on the slave trade, says he will continue to appreciate and consider cultural difference in his future medical career.  

Understanding how culture influences peoples’ health beliefs, treatment preferences, and decision-making processes will help me better provide holistic, patient-centered care that respects and meets the unique needs of each patient I come across as a nurse,” Sillah said. 

Four student scholars, including Martin and Sillah, received $1,000 to $1,500 grants, funded by the Montgomery College Foundation, to help offset the $3,100 price tag. The scholars and three professional development recipients will present their U.K. travel research in the fall 2024 semester.  

Study Abroad group photo in Belfast
Travel abroad-ers toured the historic sailing vessel Cutty Sark at Greenwich Pier in South East London during their 9-day trip to England and Ireland.

Study Abroad for the Montgomery College community began in 1996. Formed with the International Education program, it addresses the mission through five areas: education, extended study abroad, culture, travel, and continuing education. To learn more, visit the Montgomery College Study Abroad and International Education website  or contact emily.rosado@montgomerycollege.edu.