The “travel bug” bit Polson resident Taryn Harrison when she first went to Ireland when she was a student at Polson High School.
Following college, her interest was piqued following a stint with the Peace Corps, and a time when she lived in — you guessed it — Ireland.
Harrison founded Irish Life Experience (ILE) 10 years ago to give teens ages 14-18 that same experience she had when she began traveling the world.
“It has been abolutely incredible,” she said.
Students from around the country participate in the program, which consists of a four-week trip in the summer to Ireland made up of classes, workshops, tours and other opportunities.
“Getting to know (the students) and help instill that ‘travel bug’” is one of the many great parts of ILE, Harrison said.
Throughout the years, some students have chosen to visit Ireland following their month-long stay, opting to study there for a semester or even deciding to go back to live there.
The chance to go abroad also helps the high school students if they decide to leave home for college, giving them a sense of independence, Harrison added.
MOST STUDENTS discover the program through its website, irishlifeexperience.com.
They can apply, Harrison said, by answering 11 questions on the application in addition to submitting a parent application and recommendations from a school counselor and teacher.
One of the most rewarding aspects is that Harrison said she has been “lucky” enough to take students from the area when they may not be given another chance to explore the world.
This summer, students will stay in boarding schools and apartments around Ireland from June 27 until July 21.
This year, ILE will accept applications until April 1.
Having a busy schedule, Harrison said the students and chaperones will visit Waterford and Dublin, among other places.
“(Our) students see more of Ireland than most Irish have seen in their lives,” Harrison said.
Cost of the program is $5,500, which covers airfare from Boston, Mass., to meals, traveling and lodging in Ireland.
Students are responsible for souvenir money and transportation to and from Boston, Harrison said.
A scholarship is usually offered to Polson students to help offset costs, Harrison said.
To help celebrate ILE’s 10-year anniversary, she added that a 10-percent discount will be offered for the month of February. The promo code, Harrison added, is 10anniversary.
“Gettings to know these remarkable teens and seeing Ireland through their eyes” is a unique experience each time Harrison makes the trip with the students, she said.
For more information on ILE, visit irishlifeexperience.com.