RMC Press Release
Photo caption: Evan Connelly (rear center) represents RMC international students as do (clockwise) Ronaldo Teixeira of Brazil, Judith Jeannot of Haiti, Cindy Kunz of the Institute for Peace Studies at RMC, and Noah Kiprono of Kenya.
Evan Connolly (’15) brings Irish perspective to RMC campus
BILLINGS, July 14, 2014 – “I’m under the radar because I don’t look different,” said Evan Connolly (’15), “but once I open my mouth, it’s a different story.” With his lilting brogue, “I’m thrown straightaway into the deep end.”
Then Americans are very forward with their poor guesses, said the Rocky Mountain College senior. “I think in three years two people identified me as from Ireland,” he said. Everyone else guesses Scottish, English, Welsh, or Australian.
The stereotypes that follow are sometimes charming and troubling both. “The Americans all say about themselves, ‘I’m Irish!’” he said. “‘Well,’ I’m tempted to say, ‘and how Irish are you?’” Few people know the island is more than one country, he said.
But he is vulnerable to stereotype too, he said. Perhaps the hardest adjustment for him is the climate, “a huge shock” for him as a soccer player. From rural Tramore in the Republic of Ireland, “It’s hard here many months to walk outside and not see the green,” he admitted.
“Quite a few, here and at home, are quite sheltered. … It’s funny how [a few] Americans deal sometimes with immigrants when the country was founded in part on the strengths of immigrants,” he points out.
“I’m always comparing my life here to what it would be back home,” he said. His father will make his first trip to Billings this year; Connolly has traveled home only three times in three years, and he hopes to stay in America.
Many supports have eased Connolly’s transition. He loves Amanda Botnen, Clarece Lacy, and Paul Roper, the three faculty members in his exercise science major. “I want to coach,” he declared. “I could be happy the rest of my life” helping college students.
“The soccer team was just amazing for me, because it’s so diverse – a lot of Europeans,” he said. Coach Richard Duffy and assistants Jared Dickerson and Kevin Luse have been “incredible to me, too. They all have opened doors that I will never want to close and have inspired my coaching dream,” he said.
He worked at the Institute for Peace Studies for several years. “Cindy [Kunz, the director] was great for me when I was there first, helped me understand [Americanisms such as] Democrats and Republicans,” he said.
Evan has enjoyed professors such as Tony Hammond. He said Tim Lehman and Matt O’Gara of the history and political science program each know “more of the history of my country than I do.”
Connolly is one of the RMC soccer team captains this fall. “It’s an absolute honor,” he said. “I never would’ve dreamed that as a freshman. People grow up a lot while they’re here.”
-- END --