Wow....what an experience the 2018 GLOBE Learning Expedition (GLE) in Killarney was! GLOBE meetings are always intense and GLEs are even more so. Such was the case at my first GLE in India in 2014 and 2018 in Ireland proved no exception. However, this particular GLE was very special to me on many levels. This was the second GLE that I attended and marked over 5 years in my time as director of the GLOBE Office at UCAR. However, and more important, the location was my home town, and the Killarney National Park that was the backdrop for the GLE and that we used as the locations for the field sites had been my 'backyard' while I was growing up. It helped give me a practical foundation and knowledge of the natural environment and I spent many hours exploring the park, walking and biking its trails and visiting the numerous monuments within the park. We were truly blessed with the weather at the GLE. Ireland was experiencing its longest settled pattern of weather in over a decade and that pattern was high temperatures and dry conditions. (Remember this when you visit next time!!)
I was so proud of how Killarney helped us make this a wonderful experience, from the Gleneagle Hotel and the INEC, to the Chamber of Commerce arranging discounts in stores, to the Killarney National Park giving us free access to the museums and Ross Castle in the national park, and having the rangers help us on the field days, to the Killarney Garda (Police) help us with the wonderful parade led by the Gleneagle Marching Band and rolling of an inflatable globe through the town itself, to the Torc Dancers for the entertainment on Thursday night and to the local media for highlighting us during the week. Participants continually told me how hospitable everyone they met was...this made me so proud and made me realize that we made the right decision in holding the meeting in my home town and 'backyard.'
On a national level, I was also so happy that GLOBE Ireland received support from Failte Ireland, the Department of the Environment and especially the Irish Environmental Protection Agency, whose financial support allowed each of us to walk away with the Parklight book, full of incredible imagery of the Killarney National Park.
Finally, thanks to all of you for traveling to this special place...and sharing so much of your cultures and traditions and fun with everyone! That's one of the aspects that makes out meetings stand out and be different...our community and how it shares.
I hope you leave Killarney and the GLE with special memories, both visual and in your minds, as well as wonderful stories of friendship, both new and renewed. And perhaps other stories as well....you all know that storytelling was a theme of the meeting, with All Good Tales (funded by YLACES) helping to facilitate some student stories in the form of videos. I hope you have all watched the recap video shown on Thursday night that have been sent to you all and is available on GLOBE's YouTube channel. This wonderful video captures the spirit of the meeting......and now its your turn!! I would invite each one of you to share your stories or comments about the GLE in Killarney Ireland. Please add them here and share with us your own sense of place of Killarney and the GLE! Thank you all so much for making this a memorable experience!