Summer immersion in focus

Northern Irish student grateful for creative opportunities at UMD

This June, Ulster University Business student Craig Millar arrived at UMD for a four-week immersion course expecting the basics: a shared dorm room, large portions of unfamiliar food, and lots of time reading texts and writing reports.

But that’s not what Millar found. 

Craig Millar

Led by Kremena Stoyanova, UMD’s Cultural Immersion Program project "America: Here and Now" invited its summer cohort — consisting of students from South Korea, Northern Ireland, and England — to produce short films about their experiences in the Twin Ports. 

“I expected to write essays,” Millar said, speaking recently from his home in Belfast. “The way we were taught [at UMD] was more creative.”

Journaling, a new experience for Millar, proved unexpectedly fruitful — months later, he has filled the journal provided by Stoyanova and has started his second volume of thoughts.  And  time with fellow participants proved life-changing.

“Without the program, I probably would never have met a Korean person in all my life,” he says.

Drawing similarities between the politically divided Korean peninsula and the history of his own homeland, Millar chose to create his film about the Good Friday Agreement, the accord struck 25 years ago this spring that was a landmark in the peace process in Northern Ireland. Millar also felt it was appropriate to visit the topic during his time in America, given the key role then-president Bill Clinton played in the peace talks leading up to the agreement.

The resulting film features many of the summer immersion students celebrating the anniversary of the accord. View Millar’s short film here.

Millar lists the warmth of the Twin Ports community and lifelong friendships forged with his peers as lasting impacts of his summer in Duluth. He also cherishes the innovative learning environment he found at UMD.

“It made me flourish in creativity,” he says.

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