King Puck is the name of the bronze statue of a goat overlooking Killorglin, Ireland. The monument commemorates the town’s ancient festival celebrated every August. During its spring break trip to County Kerry, the College of William and Mary’s women’s golf team stopped by the attraction for pictures. However, the notice beside the sculpture disappointed Anna McMullen ’15 and her teammates.
“Tina Chang [’16] and I wanted to climb on the goat’s back, but a sign said it was strictly prohibited,” McMullen said. “However, our usually subdued coach, Jay Albaugh, hopped right up on the statue. It was hysterically funny because he is so quiet the majority of the time.”
The College’s golf program organizes a trip every two years, alternating between the men’s and the women’s teams. This year, it was the women’s turn to join the ranks of student groups with international spring break destinations. The team’s tour stops included Blarney Castle, home of the renowned Blarney Stone, as well as local restaurants and pubs.
“Cork City has a huge central street that reminded me a lot of Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Then, just one street over, there was a huge local food market full of vendors selling fruit, entire sheep and fresh sausages,” McMullen said. “The juxtaposition of those two different places was really, really cool to see.”
Of course, the trip did not solely consist of touring. When they were not visiting popular local attractions, the golfers were competing in a difficult but rewarding Killarney golf tournament.
“At one point [during the tournament], my teammate [Alex Liu ’16] and I got on our stomachs and looked over this huge cliff at the Atlantic,” McMullen said. “All of the courses had phenomenal views that really took my breath away. I’m so glad I can say that I’ve played golf with my team on some of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world.”
Most other international spring break trips organized by student groups this year were service-based. Canterbury, the College’s Episcopal Campus Ministry, embarked on a mission to the impoverished district of San Mateo in Belize. Paige Trivett ’15 and her fellow volunteers contributed to the construction of a Belizean school at the Holy Cross Anglican School. The friendliness of the Belizeans that Trivett met while painting roofs to ensure cooler classrooms impressed her.
“Respect is a very important part of Belizean culture,” Trivett said. “It’s considered rude to not smile and wave at someone you pass, even if they are a complete stranger. The students that I worked with gave me pictures that they drew. They have next to nothing, and they wanted to give me gifts.”
As part of another trip to Central America, members of the College’s chapter of Students Helping Honduras traveled to the small town of Villa Soleada outside of El Progreso. Group members Grace Fernandez ’15 and Inez Paz ’16 assisted with the construction of a new library and school that will help further bilingual education in the impoverished neighborhood. In addition to promoting education and literacy with local schoolchildren, the volunteers attended salsa lessons, soccer games and presentations dealing with drug violence in Central America. Fernandez found several cultural experiences particularly eye-opening.
“I had to kill a chicken in order to cook it for our lunch,” Fernandez said in an email. “The Honduran community members noticed how much food the American volunteers waste. It was good experience for us [because that way] we would really know where our food comes from.”
In addition to providing new cultural insight, the trip served to energize the group’s fundraising efforts. Inspired by the work ethic of the Hondurans she met over spring break, Paz said she is eager to organize future bake sales and coin drives.
“They want a better future for themselves. They are hard-working and appreciative of aid,” Paz said. “They want education, and they work hard to ensure that their kids can have it. Hondurans have a lot of pride in their success but don’t let it get in the way of continuing progress.”