GRIP, Research Abroad Gambit's Goofy Guiding

July 23, 2022
By Angela Ding, Nursing '23

Nursing Research in Dublin - Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

I’m not a fan of Tiktok, nor will I ever understand its trends and sounds---but if it weren’t for the lovely tourist community on the platform, I never would’ve found K2Alpacas. (Tip: I probably sound like a boomer for saying this but Tiktok is a great way to see what’s popular and fun in a new city!)

For a country with such temperamental weather swings, June 12th gave us the perfect weather to take our alpacas on a stroll. At the K2 Alpacas farm in Newtownmountkennedy, a rural town 45 minutes on bus from Dublin, alpacas are “not simply [their] job, they are [their] passion”. The founder, Joe, was looking for a retirement project as his four children left home to pursue their degrees. His family had inherited a large patch of farmland, but instead of establishing a regular farm, Joe looked into alpaca farms specifically. From traveling to Peru and studying all there is to alpacas, he brought his first four alpacas to Ireland and named them after his four children.

Angela and Gambit
Angela and Gambit.

From there, he took his first alpacas on a public bus in Dublin where their picture got taken. All of a sudden, the picture of two furry fellows took off on social media, and Joe’s story was widely shared. Since then, the alpaca farm has expanded, offering alpaca wedding services, alpaca therapy sessions, and alpaca treks---which my fellow GRIP interns and I had the exciting opportunity to experience.

The alpaca trek was a two-hour-long hike where we each got to walk our own alpaca. We were greeted by a field full of alpacas. Some playfully rolling in the grass, some walking around, and others going potty like it’s no one’s business. I was incredibly impressed when the staff members could name every individual alpaca! The white alpacas all looked so similar to me.

The alpaca assigned to me was named Gambit, and he had quite the attitude! Gambit was known for his big, majestic potty pose. With sass and pure force, he would always pull me to the front of the pack. Other times, he would duck his head down and chomp on some grass---refusing to move forward with the group. In short, he was hilarious and adorable! Even if he tested my patience at times…

While alpacas aren’t native to Ireland, the trek was an experience I’ll remember forever. Even more so, Joe’s success story with his alpaca farm gave me hope that any dream---no matter how unconventional they may be—can be made possible. 

A field of alpaca
Alpacas in Newtownmountkennedy.

 

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The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce.