The Greenest Grasses on CLE’s 2014 Trip to Ireland
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The Greenest Grasses on CLE’s 2014 Trip to Ireland

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.

by Brian Esau, CLE Denver

The Grasses of Burren National Park in Ireland

The Grasses of Burren National Park in Ireland

CLE trip to IrelandAnyone who has set about to travel abroad is in search of something.

It could be as simple as temporary respite from the mundane, beckoning the call of long-sought adventures, or answering more ethereal questions of who am I and what is my place in this great, big world? But really, let’s be honest. Deep at the center of all of our motives behind traveling abroad are the simple questions of where are we going? When are we going to get there? And what are we going to eat??

I was fortunate to chaperone a great group of CLE students on a trip to Ireland in August of 2014. The goals behind this trip were both for the pleasure of seeing the sights and experiencing another culture, but also giving our time through volunteering at the Burren National Park and cleaning up litter on a beach. As CLE students are a sophisticated lot, it wasn’t the first time many had been overseas, nor the first time they had experienced a trip with CLE. I was continually impressed with our group; whether it was independently arriving at the front door of our hostel to set out for the day – showered, breakfast in their bellies, expectant gleams – or their management of stress in a foreign land, sometimes full of unexpected schedule changes and unfamiliar Irish accents.

Volunteering at Burren National ParkThis sense of maturity was not more evident than in the two days that we spent volunteering at The Burren National Park. The park is located in the sweeping hills and limestone rock formations of County Clare in western Ireland. Our group was there to help three park workers mitigate some invasive species of trees, and with that, help foster the growth of some native trees along a particular trail system. Clad in safety glasses and work gloves, the CLE team got to chopping – not with swings of axes mind you, but the very safe and mother-approved garden loppers and bow-saws. Hunched over, sweat beading at the tips of their noses, this was an opportunity to engage in a form of labor that many of our students had yet to experience. And when it began to rain — as it tends to do on occasion in Ireland — I heard not a peep of complaint. Not even a wisp of displeasure. In fact, all the more smiles abounded as the mud began to cake to the soles of their shoes. It was as if, in that moment, this forest had become a microcosm of all of life’s challenges; challenges that our students had grown familiar with. Life, like those trees in that rainy forest, is to be met with eyes on the prize and a tool in the hand.

And this is the intersection where the motivation of a student and College Living Experience meet. A place where goals fostered can become dreams realized. A place where, with just the right amount of assistance, we can cut just enough of the canopy away to let the light through.

Burren National Park

Newsletter Articles – May 2015

Mt Fuji

This summer, a group of CLE students will embark on our most exciting overseas trip to date. It’s one you’ve all been hoping for (yes, we do pay attention to what you’re interested in!). Give me a mental drum roll, please—and make it a taiko drum roll—because this summer we will be visiting Japan!
No offense to Ireland and Spain, but this will be our most sensational international journey yet. CLE students have visited various places in Europe and South America before, but we are braving new frontiers this year. To provide students with more variety and greater chances to expand their horizons, we will hit a whole different continent this time around. Students, take a moment to thank your parents for their feedback in the trip-planning surveys. They had a big part in choosing the destination.

Toiletry bag for travel

Nothing motivates a traveler for the perfect trip – business or pleasure – like having all the items he or she needs neatly packed and ready to go. Regardless of the reason to travel, the point is that you are going to be somewhere for a short time, and unfortunately, all possessions cannot be brought along. So pack a light, simply organized piece of luggage that will solve your basic hygiene, fashion, entertainment, and even safety needs while you are away.

When in Rome

How would you feel traveling to a different country?
Would you be confused by the new culture? Most people look at other cultures as different and hard to understand. There are multiple ways to familiarize one’s self with another culture. One way is to just use the internet to do research on your destination’s culture. Another approach is to be prepared, perhaps trying out the culture’s customs before you go. But most of all, make sure to keep an open mind when traveling: listen to new music, attend events, try new foods, try new clothing styles, etc. Traveling is all about opening up to the experience and the culture.


Every year, CLE offers its students the opportunity to travel to new, exciting locations around the world. This year, we asked our students, parents, and staff for suggestions on the 2015 trip, and the results are in: we are heading to Japan!

As exciting as traveling may be, it’s important to remember that preparing for the trip is an integral part of enjoying yourself abroad. After all, what fun is experiencing a new culture if you get a call from your roommate letting you know that your electric bill is overdue or that your unwashed dishes are starting to get moldy?

So in the spirit of being prepared, here is a quick checklist of must-do’s for anyone planning to visit Japan or travel anywhere this year.

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