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    Reflecting, post-Harvard

    By Noreen Bowden | October 1, 2012

    It’s high time I got back to my blogging: I graduated with my Masters in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government a few months ago. It was a grueling but wonderful experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. One of the great things about it was the way the program enabled us all to pursue our various interests and passions, so I had the luxury of studying issues around democratic participation by emigrant citizens. I’ll pop up a few of the results of that work in the next few posts.

    One of the extraordinary things about the Kennedy School, apart from the superb professors and my talented classmates, was the fact that, of course, the Kennedy school is named after that great icon of Irish-America, John F. Kennedy, and he is invoked everywhere. In an Irish context, the JFK thing sometimes seems slightly parochial (“There’s the descendent of the man from New Ross, walking the streets of Galway!”), but of course his vision had a global impact, and still has the power to inspire action around the world today.

    As the child of Irish immigrants, to be able to study at such an institution  meant a lot to me. My parents left school at the age of 13 and 14; My father didn’t love school, but my razor-sharp mother  left school because she had leave home to work to support her family. She was so hungry for learning that she used to read my textbooks when I was a kid, and she often spoke how she hoped to go back to school eventually. She never got to do that; she didn’t live to see me graduate high school. While I was at Harvard, I often thought of my mother’s unfulfilled dream, and it added a bit of sadness to my pride that I had made it there. I reflected a lot how I had gotten there, and how my parents’ journeys from the Ireland of the 1950s and 1960s had paved the way. I am grateful to them.

    Anyway, I’m back to the blogging and eager to get started again!

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