“…And Justice for All: Celebrating U.S. Independence in Venice”
Sean Patrick Murphy
Study Abroad Program: LAW Summer Legal Externship in Milan, Italy, 2012
Location of Photo: Westin Europa & Regina Hotel, Venice, Italy
Working as a legal intern at the U.S. Consulate General in Milan, Italy, during the summer of 2012 was one of the best experiences of my law school career thus far. It carried with it a broad range of exposure to international legal issues including labor law, environmental law, and international tax policy.
As is the case with all internships, however, there was a certain amount of grunt work to be done. One such task to which I was assigned was to assist in the planning of the Consulate’s Independence Day parties that were taking place on various dates at various locations throughout the consular district. As with all my assignments, I did my best.
While at the Independence Day celebration in Venice, I was checking names at the door when I was notified by security that we had a last-minute VIP RSVP, but they declined to tell me who. Imagine my surprise when the mystery guest turned out to be none other than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. This photo captures our interaction that night, when the Consul General (CG) Kyle Scott personally introduced me to Justice Ginsburg, saying that the next time we meet will be when I’m arguing a case before her.
After our time together that night, the CG asked if I would like to be part of her security escort from her hotel in Venice to the Venice airport. I enthusiastically agreed and was able to spend nearly two hours with Justice Ginsburg. Having just finished my course on Constitutional Law, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an aspiring lawyer like myself to pick the brain of one of the most influential women in Supreme Court history. The things she told me were an inspiration to me and will undoubtedly remain with me throughout my career as an attorney.
“En Memoria de Juan Carlos”
Study Abroad Program: SAO Spanish Studies in Granada, 2012
Location of Photo: On top of a mountain in Granada, Spain
I chose to study Communication at U of I because I am fascinated by the way in which people express their human experiences. It’s not always so easy to express oneself in societies with stigmas and stereotypes. I know this, due to my recovery from drugs and alcohol. I want to help educate the world to try and reduce the stigma assigned to those with drug and alcohol addictions. In order to make a difference, I make contacts all over the world in A.A. and N.A. These people help me learn how I can be of service in my local community and on a global level. In this photo, one can see the parents of a dear N.A. friend of mine I met in Spain who took his life after only 2 months of sobriety. The cross reads: El Cruz de Los Adictos. We hope that the cross will be an inspiration to those who struggle with addictions, and an object to spark a global conversation about the facts and severity of addictions. I took the photos for Jose Carlos’s webpage with hopes to bring addiction awareness to the Spanish Population. http://www.cruzdelosadictos.com/
Study Abroad Program: SAO CIEE Intensive Chinese Language in Beijing, China, 2012
Location of Photo: Beijing, Fragrance Hills
A challenge that I faced abroad was making new friends. When I say new friends, I am referring to the local Chinese students in China. At my University I passed by hundreds of students a day, but was never able to really reach out and get to know any of them personally. Whether it was my “American” bubble or the cultural or language barrier, it was all definitely in my way of making friends. However, by the end of my time in China I was able to make three really good friends. This is a photo of us on top of Fragrance Hills (which is actually more like a small mountain). Our relationship started out via a mutual practice of my Chinese and their English. However, we enjoyed each other’s company and eventually became good friends. Although their home is in China, I am happy to say that we still keep in contact!
“The Students of Costa Rica”
Study Abroad Program: SAO-Social Work: Community-based Learning in
Costa Rica, 2012
Location of Photo: unknown
The astounding connections I made in Costa Rica this past summer are one’s that will stick with me for the rest of my life. This picture displays not only the personal connections I made while abroad, but also the academic and career connections as well. This particular program was called Social Work in the Costa Rican context. One of our classes was on the education, health, and welfare systems in Costa Rica and how they compare to our systems here in the States. For our big project we decided to work with the children in the education system and do a seminar on bullying. Did you know that there isn’t a word in Spanish for “bullying”? The subject is taboo and one that isn’t even recognized in the language, though it happens there just as much as it happens here. As a social worker, it is my ethical duty and life goal to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Our seminar with the amazing children in this picture quickly became emotional as they told us their stories of the different encounters they have had with bullying. Tears were dropped and hugs were given, but at the end of the day we got together outside to enjoy the sun and play games. In the picture, you can see myself and the 8 other beautiful people I got to share this amazing experience with being goofy with the same children who showed us vulnerability and courage. If there is anything I can say that I took out of my experience abroad, it is this… If I can impact a child who has never met me before, who doesn’t speak my language, and lives thousands of miles away from my own home…Imagine the impact I can make in my own backyard.