Northern Ireland exchange student Matthew Gamble explores The Centre Experience
International study through the nation’s premier study abroad program is a hallmark of the Centre experience, underscoring the College’s mission of producing global citizen leaders. What people may not realize, however, is that international students also travel from all corners of the world to study on Centre’s campus. Of the 36 incoming international students attending Centre this year—the largest group the College has ever welcomed, increasing international enrollment to more than 100 students—six are exchange students from Japan, Spain, England and Northern Ireland.
Matthew Gamble from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, is currently in his junior year at Ulster University Jordanstown. He is one in a long list of Irish exchange students who have studied at Centre via The British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. The Study USA/Irish-American Scholars program began in the 1990s as a way of introducing promising students to the U.S. and to a wider educational grounding than what was then available in Ireland.
Centre has been part of the exchange for 12 years, and the program has also greatly impacted American students studying abroad in Ireland. It offers a unique connection for Centre, as some of the Irish students who’ve studied at the College, like Gamble, have come from the Jordanstown branch of the University of Ulster, which is located just over the border of Carrickfergus. The beautiful Northern Irish port town has been Danville’s Sister City since 2007. Others have come from Queen’s University in Belfast, 12 miles from Carrickfergus.
Gamble is well-traveled, having visited Hong Kong in 2011 to highlight to local school children the difficulties blind people face to get water in third world countries. Additionally, in 2013 he completed a seven-week leadership course in Uganda, where he helped organize activities and learning opportunities for children living on the street.
“Ever since leaving high school, I have always had the urge to see as much of the world as possible and have been extremely fortunate to have been given many opportunities to do so,” Gamble said.
He applied for the exchange program to Centre in order to broaden his horizons both academically and personally, as higher education back home is a very different experience.
“I saw this as a great opportunity to also become more independent and to simultaneously learn and experience the American education system,” he explained.
Gamble’s top reasons to come to Centre included the small school size, as he thought it would help add a sense of community to his year abroad. He also liked the idea of being able to see new friends almost every day, and aesthetically it matched with what he pictured American college to look like.
“So far, Centre has been going great. The people I have met have all been really friendly and have tried their best at making me feel at home,” he said. “The campus is ridiculously nice and all my professors have been very supportive in helping me adjust to the extremely different class format.”
Gamble is studying marketing at home in Northern Ireland and hopes to one day merge his passion for photography and marketing into his own business.
Pictured: Northern Ireland exchange student Matthew Gamble.
by Elise L. Murrell
November 10, 2015