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Alumni reunion celebrates unforgettable semester in Wales

10 Jun 2024 4 minute read
A group of American alumni from Trinity College, Carmarthen marking their 42nd reunion in Charleston, South Carolina

Over a weekend in May, a group of American alumni gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of their transformative semester at Trinity College, Carmarthen.

These former exchange students came together from across various corners of the United States to reminisce about their shared experience in Wales during 1982 as part the Central College Wales Programme.

Despite coming from different colleges across America and only spending a short period together in Carmarthen, the bonds formed at Trinity College have stood the test of time.


This year’s reunion drew attendees from states as far-flung as Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Iowa, Georgia, Florida and New Jersey, converging at the home of Steve Gulick in South Carolina.

As this year’s host, Steve was pleased to invite old friends to enjoy his favourite souvenir from Carmarthen, now proudly displayed in his courtyard – a pub sign from Y Ceffyl Du, one of the group’s favourite places to socialise near the campus.

After a family trip to the UK in 2018-2019 which ended up in Carmarthen, Steve spotted that Y Ceffyl Du on Water Street was for sale.

This was an opportunity to take a piece of Carmarthen back with him to Charleston, and after tracking down the owners, Steve purchased the pub sign.

The very Welsh exterior of Steve Gulick’s home

Steve said: “It took six months to ship to the U.S. but it’s been in my possession since, hanging in my courtyard – a piece of art in my humble opinion.

“The time spent in Wales was a very significant time for us all. The trip and the people I met changed my life forever for the positive. Carmarthen and my classmates will hold a special place in my heart always, along with the sign!”

Pivotal moment

For Paul Richardson, the year in Wales was also a pivotal moment in his life, and unexpectedly set the direction for his future profession.

Paul said:  “I took the year-long Soviet Studies course with Professor Malcom Gilbert which set me on a trajectory in Russian studies for graduate school and the next twenty years. It was an amazing ride and I stayed in touch with Malcom over the years and even got to visit him in early 2020.”

Paul was asked by his former professor’s family to read a Russian poem at his online memorial service after he sadly passed away at the end of 2020, which demonstrates the profound connections formed not only among peers, but also with teaching staff.

Brad Depke, another attendee, recalled the diverse experiences that bonded the group. He said: “A highlight of my time in Wales includes taking part in Outdoor Pursuits – learning how to kayak and rock climb was a thrill, and the trips helped bond the group.

“Carmarthen and Trinity campus had a special feel; you never felt alone and always felt in a happy place. My memories of Trinity – the staff, teachers, students, all the experiences – will always be some of my best.”

Lifelong friendships

The reunion was filled with laugher, stories and heartfelt moments, showcasing the enduring connections formed over four decades ago.

As Brad Depke summed up, “When you ask what has kept us connected, it’s the memories. My wife asked me, ‘Brad do you really like all these people?’, I didn’t hesitate and said ‘Every single one of them.’”

On the significance of these study abroad experiences to past, present and future students, Kath Griffiths, International Regional Manager at UWTSD’s Wales Global Academy said:

“I am so pleased that the study abroad reunions are still taking place. As this group of friends testify, the connections made during these experiences shape lives.

“The programme began in Trinity College, Carmarthen in 1976 and I am proud to say that it continues to thrive today.

“Through Taith, a Welsh Government funded programme which enables learners to spend time abroad as part of their studies, we can send our students from Wales to North America and other countries around the world for these transformative educational experiences.”

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