INTERN NEWS 2010

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Interns Return Home After Spending Their Summer Interning In the US 

See some of the interns photographs of their adventures during Habitat for Humanity in Mississippi, 4th of July in Washington DC, the final weekend in New York City and their day to day life in America.
Check out our new Project Children YouTube Channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/ProjectChildren

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Conflict Resolution in Business,  Stu Olds, Chief Executive Officer, Katz Media Group.

                                  

Stu Olds started his talk with the Interns by giving them a context for all the people he worked with and who could, potentially offer an opportunity for conflict resolution.  In addition to his 1,300 employees, his company represents over 4,000 radio stations.  Last year, Katz had over $4 billion in sales.  Katz began in 1888 with the newspaper business, but changed as radio took-over.  Mr. Olds’ first question was who in the room had read in the past year a book on business or personal development, as he said, “what some might call a ‘self-help book’?” Only one person in the room raised their hand (a facilitator, not an Intern).  “Good,” Mr. Olds said, “there are as many thoughts on how to run a business, how to resolve conflict in business, as there are people.  You need to decide for yourself what kind of leader you are going to be and what your style will be for conflict management.”

 

But, he said, there are common denominators of good leaders.  Using “The Wizard of Oz” as a theme, Mr. Olds pointed out that each of the characters represents what one needs to be successful in life and in business.  The Lion was seeking courage. Here you must have the courage to have a core set of values and to stick with them.  Those you do business with or negotiate with must be able to trust you.  You must ask yourself, according to Mr. Olds, what you will never allow to be compromised.

 

Next, he said the Tin man represented needing to have a heart, in business as well as in your personal life.  He challenged the Interns to learn that “it is the little things in life that make the difference.” This is where in conflict resolution, he pointed out, and you must learn to have empathy. “You need to learn,” Mr. Olds stated, “the six magical words: ‘what this means for you is….”  Once you can understand this, he said, you can understand how to negotiate with anyone.

 

The Scarecrow has a lot to offer in conflict resolution as well, according to Mr. Olds.  It is here that one must actively think about listening. Listening is the most powerful tool in business.  If you can’t understand your clients or your employees, you will lose them.  Conversely, listening, using your brain to process what they are saying and to help bring about good deals for everyone is a trait you need to succeed in business. In this way, brains may also be said to be simply commonsense.

 

Lastly, Mr. Olds compared Dorothy with the passion needed to succeed. He gave an example where in business passion has overcome all obstacles. When Harry Winston had a client who was looking at a diamond, he allowed his top sales person to try and sell it.  The salesman talked about all the fine qualities of the diamond.  Unfortunately, he did not get the sale.  Mr. Winston stopped the client before he left the store and invited him back into his office.  There Mr. Winston told the client all the reasons he admired the diamond, giving all the qualities he liked about that specific stone. Eventually, the client purchased the diamond.  Before leaving, the client asked Mr. Winston why he had bought the diamond from him instead of his salesman, and especially when he really didn’t need another diamond.  Mr. Winston replied, “My salesman knows diamonds, I love them.” This example challenged the Interns to follow their passion, whatever it may be life.

 

During the question and answer session, the Interns took the opportunity of talking with one of New York’s top CEOs to ask about internships, interviewing and resumes.  But they also wanted to know “what was one of the most difficult negotiations of his career?”  Mr. Olds talked about the Federal Communication Commission’s allowing the consolidation of radio stations.  Here he created an unheard of concept of 10 year contracts, creating a win-win situation for his company and his clients.  Mr. Olds said he believes it is making the situation win-win that is the success in business and negotiations.

 

Also, Mr. Olds was asked by the Interns if he had one piece of advice that he has followed throughout his career.  Mr. Olds talked about when he was taught the question, “is this an individual I want to have a beer with?”  Mr. Olds believes that by asking this question, about clients, employees, and those in your personal life, that this one question answers who you should be doing business with and who you should be allowing in your life.  Mr. Olds received a large round of applause from the Interns, being the perfect last speaker of the Symposium.

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Interns Visit Ground Zero & Discuss Conflict Resolution, 9/11 & The Twin Towers

The Interns then went to the site of 9/11, Twin Towers.  After viewing the site at the street level, the Interns went to the observation deck.  Following the viewing from the deck, they stepped into a private area of the World Financial Center Lobby where Amy Millican talked with the Interns about the relations in parts of the United States with the Arab American community post 9/11.  And, she discussed with them the consequences of cultural misunderstandings, such as the strong backlash to the Sikh community. She challenged the Interns to respond to the question of whether “the French government’s proposed ban on burqas would have come about had 9/11 not happened?”  The Interns had mixed feelings on this question.  Some thought this attitude toward Muslims is a direct resolute of 9/11, while a few maintained that this is simply part of a larger, anti-immigrant movement sweeping Europe, including parts of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  This group cited similar attitudes toward the “Roma”, who were not tied to 9/11.  The discussions ended on this question as the Interns left to take tours of other historical sites around NYC.

 

 

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New York Irish Famine Memorial

The first part of the walking tour around Manhattan took the Interns to the Irish Hunger Memorial located near the World Financial Center in Manhattan.  Tom Kennedy led the Interns on a tour of the Memorial, pointing out that it was located such that the visitor could see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the top of the Memorial, noting this positioning was done on purpose.  Mr. Kennedy discussed the famine and what effects it had on the United States, given the huge influx of Irish to the United States.  He also discussed the experiences of those who were turned away when they arrived in the United States.  Mr. Kennedy pointed out that each of the stones on the “roof” or upper part of the Memorial had the names of all the counties on the island of Ireland.  Each of the Interns went to find and photograph their county’s rock.

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Amy Millican takes Interns to Fifteenth Street Friends’ Quaker Meeting House

 

Interns went to the Fifteenth Street Friends (Quaker) Meeting House.  Here the Interns toured the grounds and sat on the steps of the Meeting House during a talk by Ms. Millican, whose undergraduate degree was a double majored in Religion and History.  After giving an overview of Quakerism, Ms. Millican focused on the role of Quakers in peace building, with particular emphasis on the concept of being a “Conscientious Objector” in a time of war.  Ms. Millican discussed the roles Quakers played in World War II.  She challenged the Interns to understand how Quakers could support their nation at a time of war, without compromising their principles of peace.  Among other questions, one of the Interns asked what role they were playing in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ms. Millican pointed out that we currently do not have the draft, or conscription, therefore, there is not currently the need to have Quakers involved in wartime activities.  But, she encouraged the Interns to understand that by working for peace, actively practicing peace building, Quakers are, and view themselves as, supporting the United States.

 

After this part of the discussion, and as Fifteenth Street is also a Mennonite Meeting House, Ms. Millican discussed the role of Mennonites in peace building.  One area which has had a profound effect on conflict resolution is that of the Mennonite dedication to making peace building and conflict resolution part of academia and offering degrees in conflict resolution.  According to Ms. Millican, schools such as Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), in Harrisonburg, Virginia, have dedicated centers for conflict resolution.  She stated that EMU’s Center for Justice and Peace building has educated peace builders from all over the world.  And, like the Quakers, the Mennonites do not discriminate in their education.  People of all faiths have attended EMU’s peace building programs, most notably their program for Conflict Transformation.  Several of the Interns continued the discussions, with particular interest on peace building as an academic study, with Ms. Millican as they made their way back to the hotel following the site visit and formal discussion.

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NYPD Emergency Service Unit - Truck 1: Workshop & Talk

The highlight of the weekend for many of the interns was the demonstration and talk given by two detectives from New York's Emergency Service Unit. Over the intern's stay in America, they had undergone a slow progress in conflict resolution from first talks about where the conflict in Northern Ireland lies at the minute, progressing to ways in which future generations can be brought together by education. The most striking and memorable of all workshops has been that of negotiation and how two of New York's finest detectives Sean Mulcahy and Jimmy Coll have responded to emergency and high-risk situations. Also, how they have helped to create the feeling of law and order within such a multicultural metropolitan city as New York. Even before they left their truck it was evident to all the interns the big cultural difference between the police service in New York City and that of Northern Ireland. As both detectives stepped out onto the street, they received a great reaction of graditude and admiration from the people of New York a reaction far from that felt by police officers in Northern Ireland, who for many years have been at the forefront of controversial issues and events.


Witnessing at first hand, how the police can bring people together and are the pillars of law and justice seen interns brought together with questions and interest in the work that these officers do. A huge learning outcome of this particular workshop was that of negotiation. Often used by both detectives in hostage situations, it was brought through on a day to day level and how important it is for the negotiation as well as compromise of both the Catholic and Protestant people in Northern Ireland to create a lasting peace. Both Sean and Jimmy gave an in depth talk of what they do, explaining what their job entails. Responding to emergency and high risk situations and being part of what we know as a SWAT team as well as being responsible for tactical operations, are a few of many different situations they get involved in every year, on both land and water. Their experience as being part of an Emergency Service Unit ranges from being in charge at emergency incidents to providing tactical and rescue support for the New York Police Department.

They related to how diverse and detailed their job is explaining that they were there for the police when they needed someone to call. The interactive nature of their talk reached out to the interns to see their equipment and ask questions about their role in keeping the peace in New York City. But as one intern asked, who is there for them to call? A question which was answered by both officers.


Jimmy began to answer the question, "We would self dispatch if the job was big enough and assist other units. Out of those 40 thats all we have, unless the job gets big enough lets say a 9/11 guys would be coming in from home because we don't have any more man power or resources larger than what we have, unless the military, we would be calling in the United States Military to come in over us."


Sean follows, "Basically if a tree fell into the street a cop would have to sit there until it was cleaned up. We have chain saws we would come in and cut it up and then they would go back to patrol. So there is nobody we call, like Jimmy said, accept for the military, if it gets bad enough. A smaller job that we would give an example off, is do you remember the plane that went down on the Hudson River, Jimmy was one of the divers that went into the plane."


An intern responds "Sully's plane"


Jimmy replied "Sully calls it Jimmy's Plane"


As the interns laughed Detective Sean Mulcahy continued to detail what happened that day, "We responded to that immediately by boat, we asked the captain can we jump on. We all had our scuba equipment. Jimmy and another guy were able to jump in, I had him on a line. That job then, because we didn't know how many people were dead, how many were alive, swimming around or trapped. We didn't know what was going on, the Brooklyn Trucks came over and they mobilised in a different location on 23rd Street because the current was coming South Bound and the plan was moving South. So they went to 23rd Street incase they had to go in from there. While officers from other trucks mobilised all over the city. It turned out everyone lived."


The workshop went to different levels and seen both officers give emotional, yet detailed accounts of different situations including where they were the day of 9/11 and the aftermath, as well as how both detectives went to Haiti to lend their professional skills in structural collapse rescue to recover victims from the debris of the earthquake. What touched the hearts of the interns the most was the passion both officers had to protect and serve the American people, no matter what their religion was. That the police service in America had no political or religious affiliation other than to protect and serve the people of America, a concept often widely debated and neglected at home. Interns left not only learning, but experiencing a huge difference in the police culture in America. They left with a feeling that one person can make a difference, one person can help to create peace and that the stories of both Jimmy and Sean's actions during the crash on the Hudson River and in Haiti where only 2 events in a long history of ways in which they continued to do so.

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Interns Take Part in a Negotiation Exercise with Deirdre O’Brien and Amy Millican


 

Ms. O’Brien started the session by discussing with the Interns her training in negotiation as an attorney.  She talked about the importance of being able to have a position, yet attempt to understand the other’s point of view.  She also discussed the importance in negotiation of keeping privately held information to oneself.  She stressed the importance of being polite, yet understanding that part of negotiation is to help you or your side come out with a favorable solution.

 

After the group was divided into two, each side was given part of a negotiation exercise.  The purpose of this exercise was to build on the work the Interns had begun as a group during the Washington, DC Conflict Resolution Symposium. Based on an employer/employee model, this exercise is designed for the novice negotiator, who has not had formal training, to be a practical, role-playing exercise to begin to develop negotiating skills.  The reason this exercise works so well for the beginner is that it is designed to have multiple win-win solutions, wherein each negotiator should begin to grasp the importance of listening and understanding the point of view of the person they are negotiating with. 

 

After about 20 minutes of negotiating the groups were brought back together, with each “employer” tasked with reporting on the negotiations.  The first “surprise” outcome was that all the teams were able to come-up with some sort agreement, except for one, who gave what they had agreed upon, but said they were still in negotiation.  One of the ways that the Interns did fall into the “usual” outcome of this exercise is that almost all financial agreements were approximately $10,000 below the ability of the employer to pay. 

 

This part of the exercise is designed to teach individuals to value their negotiation position. By having a financial amount added to the negotiation, it gives a clear, solid example of an idea that is often hard to see when negotiating values or deeply held beliefs. The Interns were able on their own to come-up with ways to create win-win situations, such as giving perks that helped the company gain the employee they wanted and the employee gain the position they wanted.  For instance, the Interns negotiated health insurance, flights for family members, free tickets, transportation, meals, lodging, and reduced work schedules.

 

All of the Interns agreed that this was a difficult exercise, as they had not been placed in the position of negotiating. Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Millican closed the session by discussing the importance of learning listening and compromising skills in conflict resolution. 

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Interns Meet Deirdre O'Brien, Human Rights Attorney for a Symposium as they relived their summer and reflected on what they had learnt

Ms. O'Brien  opened  the  morning  by  giving  her  biography and an overview of her work in Northern Ireland at the Pat Finucane Centre. That morning, prior to her introduction, Ms. O'Brien had Amy Millican ask that the Interns prepare a brief introduction of themselves.  This was not only for Ms. O'Brien to get to know the Interns, but to set the tone for the symposium as interactive, wherein the Interns were expected to be participatory and engaged.  The interns each introduced themselves, talked about their Internships, what they learned from their Internships and where they expected to be after the Internships or where they wanted to go.

 

Not surprising, a large number of the Interns said the program had made them want to travel and see more of the world. The interns noted that the program had helped them to develop a diverse set of skills such as organization, communication, social growth, independence, and public speaking and their ability to immerse themselves into life in the United States.  The immersion of living with a host family, going to a job from 9 to 5, changed their perceptions.

 

Many of the Interns spoke about learning to express themselves.  One Kids Camp Intern said she learnt firsthand about "Black and White issues, how people aren't all getting along here." She continued that she was saddened by seeing so many black children living in urban environments without parks or fresh air. She said this made her work with the children's camp even more rewarding.  Several of the Interns went back to their experiences with what they called the "Mississippi Build" from their week of participating in Habitat for Humanity.  One of the last Interns to speak said, "I think what we are all trying to say is that we gained something we could never have gained at home." The last Intern to speak made everyone laugh as he said he had fun "getting to know the 'Northies'," as he affectionately called the Interns from Northern Ireland as he was from the South.

 

Following the break, Ms. O'Brien talked about non-violence in conflict resolution.  She tied her work with Pat Finucane Centre to the issues addressed by and beliefs held by Martin Luther King, Jr.  She referenced the Intern's statement about race relations and the work the United States still has to do with the idea that Northern Ireland, as well, has work ahead.  She challenged those in the room to see what they could do to work toward peace and understanding.

 

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Interns Visit the Glucksman Ireland House

The interns came together on Saturday 7th August 2010 at Glucksman Ireland House, owned by New York University NYU. Located in the renowned Greenwich Village in Manhattan, the interns were given an all access pass to a historical site. They were given an overview of Glucksman Ireland House including the history and importance of the studies in the New York University (NYU) and NYC historical significance which was given by a member of the House Staff.  She talked with the Interns about the renovation which took place in 1992 and pointed out that each of the houses on Washington Mews, including Glucksman Ireland House, were originally stables.  The Glucksman Ireland House is central to NYU’s Irish Studies Program it houses the “Archives of Irish America” and, sponsors not only events but research and publications.  She told the Interns that the Glucksman Ireland House is part of a larger commitment by NYU to international studies, as is evidenced by the University houses in the Washington Mews. It was a great place to conduct conflict resolution talks and have discussions.

 

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Interns Travel to Washington DC for the 4th of July

Jamie Sweeney, interning at USC LLC/ International described her feelings about going to Washington DC not knowing anyone and her overview of the weekend.


"Project Children interns went to Washington D.C. for the weekend to experience Independence Day. As I didn’t go to New Orleans to the Habitat for Humanity program, where many friendships had already formed that week, I was slightly hesitant and nervous. Before going to Washington I had only met the interns a few times and therefore did not know them very well. However, the minute we got on the bus, everyone got along really well and made an effort to get to know each other. The accommodations were four to a room, which I think encouraged everyone to come together and mix with each other, outside their usual friendship circles. A lot of socializing was done as we had many activities planned for the weekend, such as visiting museums, sightseeing and the 4th July fireworks and celebrations.


We had to attend two conferences on ‘Conflict Resolution’ along with other interns on the Washington Ireland Program. As the Project Children interns had all bonded through the other activities of the weekend, initially, there was a “them and us” divide to the approach of the conflict resolution debates. However, this did not last long as soon everyone got properly acquainted. After, we attended a baseball game, which was a great experience. And, by the end of the trip, many friendships were formed."



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Interns Celebrate with U.S History and Culture

Grainne Keogh an Architecture student from Queen's University Belfast relived how celebrating with History and Culture of the togetherness of the American people brought the interns together.


"For the past 64 years, the National Smithsonian in Washington has stood as a beacon of American knowledge, innovation and military prowess. Most of what is displayed in the museum is an original, and for all the objects too delicate, a copy from the same period is used. When entering, jets and planes sweep above your head- all of them once active military equipment. With a head angled in awe, objects that had only ever been seen on a pixelated screen soar above you, captured in an imagined motion of their previous life.


The congress passed a bill to begin a national aeronautical museum in 1946 and they did so with an optimistic idealism. The Smithsonian was opened to inspire and compel all people to the wonders of science. All people, regardless of colour, creed or class. When you stand spell bound by the Apollo 11 shuttle, you can't help but be throttled back to childhood dreams of astronauts and extra- terrestrial exploration. However if you look to either side of you, you may see every nationality, starring up, with the same nostalgic expectations. We all stand together as one day-dreaming kid.


Only a block away, sits piece of beautiful urban architecture, the museum of Native Americans. Its sliding facade, moves in the same mesmerising way that the landscape of the American desserts. The diversity and contrast of culture and beliefs of the Native Americans and the founding fathers of America is an intriguing and relevant idea. The Native american plight is an essential lesson that was greatly appreciated by everyone on our trip that entered. 


Traveling to Washington turned the spotlight back on to us and how we as individuals were to learn and help in our own situations. It focused on our development and how we may administer and help innovation and change within our own country."

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Project Children Interns Meet With the Washington Ireland Program Interns to Discuss the Idea of Conflict Reosolution

Numerous experts in the field of conflict resolution joined together to participate in the symposium. Azita Ranjbar is a Program Specialist for Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and a 2010-2011 scholar for Tajikistan. She spoke about access to justice in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. She specifically identified and focused on the challenges of access to justice for women as well as rural populations, and spoke about transitional justice initiatives in both countries.


Azita, was then followed by Michael D. English, a doctoral student at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University who spoke about his recent research trip to Turkey that focused on issues dealing with the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Michael discussed in detail how non-violent and diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict are perceived as opposed to military solutions. After the speeches, the interns were encouraged to get involved in a debate around their table about conflict in Ireland and Northern Ireland with regards to ways in which the conflict could be resolved with reference to education and sport. At the end, each table elected a team representative to express the views or outcomes that each table produced.


Eamonn Morgan, a Teaching student interning in Kid’s Camp, New Jersey began the talks by giving his table’s view. “Growing up in Northern Ireland, like in Belfast, children lead very parallel lives. They grow up learning about their culture. If you’re Catholic you lead that life and if you’re Protestant you lead that life. With living around peace walls and segregation, grows sectarianism because you are not learning other cultures. If you’re Catholic, you’re Catholic, if you’re Protestant, you’re Protestant and you don’t normally mix. Maybe through the school system it could be more integrated instead of one and the other, them and us. The solution is to start with education.”


Eamonn was then followed by Olivia Downey, Law student, interning in Morris County’s Prosecutor’s Office, “We were lucky that we didn't have to suffer through what our parents went through during the troubles. A solution with a shift in focus towards the future should be implemented rather than dwelling on past conflict. Building a proper future for all of us and jobs that we can have when we are older is key.”


Leigh Ferris, a Law student interning in Binghamton City Court changed the debate by addressing sport as well as education within Ireland and Northern Ireland. “Giving a response to all those from the Republic talking about integration, as much as all of us would like to see all Ireland sporting groups, a lot of our community would be really put off by that. So I think the first thing we need to do is sort out the North. The thing I would concentrate on is history. Instead of letting kids be educated by their parents, as a lot of us were, we would like it to be brought together in the schools from the youngest age possible. Get everything out in the open, ‘this is what happened before’ and to explain at a later date why it is now all finished. We would like the kids to be pro-active, maybe get together with all parents and have an evening, where the kids put on a presentation about what they thought happened in the 80's, 90's and why they think conflict is now finished. Let the kids come up with for themselves examples of how they have now integrated society and can now come together.”


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Coordinator Tom Kinirons Believes the Interns are the Next Leaders

Tom Kinirons, Project Children coordinator for Long Island played a significant role during the weekend the interns spent in Washington DC, in getting the interns to open up about their thoughts and feelings on the conflict at home, as well as, gave his views on the matter. He led the discussion at one of the tables and noted the importance of Project Children in its role in bringing the conflict to an end. He also addressed the importance of the American people in helping us create a lasting peace and taking away the fear of the people in Ireland and Northern Ireland.


“Back in ‘75 we started bringing children over whose parents were in jail, because of the troubles. We started with six cross community children, and from there it is our 36th summer bringing children over. At the height of things we were bringing 900 children over each summer for a 6-week stay, and what they would do is just blend in with the family. They were just another smiley face at the breakfast table, saying what are we doing today ma? They would just see how we get along. If you go three doors to your left, three doors to your right, then cross the street and comeback, who is Catholic, who is Protestant, who knows and who cares.


The interns are the young leaders. With the peace process being about 12 years old, progress has been made, but must continue. Know we are reaching out to the interns to say, you are the next leaders. We all get what we are talking about here and you are it. So hopefully you will be the ones to make the changes, see how things can be.

We also have the Habitat program and this is a way of Project Children and the people of Northern Ireland, giving back to the American families, who raised the money to bring them over and opened their homes to them. Our group of interns built a house in 5 days, that’s their way of saying thank you to America.”

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Importance of the Host Family

Ciaran O’Shiel, Law student, interning with Harry Kutner, Esq took Project Children as the idea behind conflict resolution. “Basically the idea of the host family, if that was implemented as a form of conflict resolution would be a solution. Host families were, and continue to be, the foundation of Project Children. During the troubles, as well as now, it’s the families that lead by example by demonstrating American ideals and teaching children to overcome adversity through their daily life. 

 

Maybe conflicts such as in Afghanistan and Cyprus would benefit by focusing on the children and embracing the idea of the host family.  By exposing a child to another culture at an early age, it has a lasting effect. They learn to understand and respect people of differing backgrounds and bring that mentality home with them. This model has been successful for Project Children and could be adopted by other countries.

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The Washington Nationals Baseball Game

 

After conflict resolution talks the interns embarked on a trip to watch a baseball game. They became involved in all aspects of American culture. During the game, they watched the Washington Nationals against the New York Mets and carried the Project Children banner, which they proudly waved and cheered, all together. Putting the talks about the conflict at home to one side they ate American food and waved American giant hands whilst getting ready for the 4th of July celebrations.

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Interns Talk Northern Ireland Independence and Freedom

Before going home we got back to business and returned to our talks about conflict resolution after celebrating the importance of independence and freedom with the American people. We now sat down to talk about our own independence and freedom that both sides of the divide have been fighting, arguing and debating for so long.

 

We began with Donald Tighe an intriguing and interesting speaker who had a greater understanding of the conflict at home than any other speaker we had came across. A Ph.D. candidate in international relations he has a broad knowledge and understanding of conflict resolution, reconciliation, and recovery. His current research examines the intersection in the United States of domestic politics and foreign policy actions, focusing on the case study of U.S. engagement in the Northern Ireland peace process. He led a discussion on how differences in partisan politics and economic perspectives can impact the process of public policy cooperation and collaboration

 

“One thing that struck me and is unique in my experience of being in Northern Ireland, is that during this conference every single speaker began their remarks by introducing themselves and saying where they are coming from and what their perspective is. Not that they came with an agenda, but I asked them why they did that, and they said well there is so much contentiousness between the two communities in Northern Ireland that if you don’t say it right upfront you can just tell in someone’s eyes that they are trying to figure it out for themselves the whole time.

 

Donald continues “Have you guys ever thought why are you here? Why do the people here care?”

Lee Ferris, “the ideal that the American people got caught up on, the American citizens think they can help us in Northern Ireland.”

 

“How does that play over there, do you and your friends feel like, get out of our business or we need your help or even something in the middle?”

 

“It is something in the middle, there are people who make a joke of it and there are other people that just don’t want to talk about it. There are different problems back home. The whole racial thing here is something we would never run into back home because of religious issues. There is gonna be some differences and we have to approach it in a different way, most of it will be transferal but a lot of it is gonna be a bit different."

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Two Interns From Opposite Sides of the Community Live Together for the Summer and Talk About Personal Experiences and Religious Beliefs

Two interns expressed their views after a few days reflection on the talks in Washington. Each intern from a different side documented what the talks had meant to them both on a personal and on a religious level.

 

             Sarah Grant a Law student interning in Morris County’s Prosecutor’s Office writes her view


When the Good Friday Agreement was implemented in 1998, I was 10 years old and as a result the majority of my life has been focused around a peaceful and restorative period within Northern Ireland. It’s a far cry from the conflict and hostility experienced by my parent’s generation, which still has its problems. However, due to this new era, coupled with the Christian ethos and education bestowed on me through my schooling, the fact that I am a Catholic has never been something that has defined me solely, nor has it branded or labeled me in a negative way with my Protestant friends.

 

This is testament truly to how far Northern Ireland has developed regarding the conflict and the younger generation’s emerging perspective. This rising viewpoint has undoubtedly been aided by the fantastic work of Project Children in building bridges between both communities and the political, economic and social commitments that the United States has contributed to solving the issues within our communities.

 

The fresh approach of our generation was demonstrated when the Project Children interns, accompanied by some of the Washington Ireland Program Interns, attended a Symposium in Washington D.C. Here, we listened to Donald Tighe, a Ph.D candidate whose case study focused on U.S. engagement within the Northern Ireland peace process. Here, all interns were invited to share their views on how they feel Northern Ireland could continue to unite communities.

 

Interns suggested emphasis on an integrated education system with similar syllabuses taught within schools, a north south sports team and a youth run media publication expressing young people’s perspectives on united causes affecting both communities such as university fees and the environment. All opinions were focused on forward thinking resolutions from both communities.

 

                        Catrina Hollran, a student interning in Employment Horizons in New Jersey

 

“In the USA it is interesting to see how people in such a large diverse country interact with each other. There are many different nationalities and religions but they all co-exist under the identity of an American. This is refreshing to see, in Northern Ireland there is less conflict but there are still divisions and a lack of understanding between both communities. To me whether someone is Protestant or Catholic does not matter, but I do acknowledge that as a Protestant I know little about the Irish language, Gaelic sports or the Catholic religion. I have found that by being a part of Project Children I have learned more about the Catholic community and I hope that I continue to learn more.

  

At the symposium in Washington D.C. Azita Ranjbar and Michael D. English were talking about conflicts in Afghanistan and Turkey respectively, and how these conflicts mirrored that of Northern Ireland. When they asked us about conflict resolution within Northern Ireland, interns from both communities agreed that education and cross community work would be the best as it is a lack of understanding of the other community that causes the conflict. As leaders of the future it is good to see that we agree on the way forward.”

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Habitat for Humanity Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Mississippi

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Project Children in Association with Habitat for Humanity: Bay St Louis: The Chairman's Report

 

Project Children Chairman Denis Mulcahy tells his account of the week that Project Children Interns spent in Mississippi in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

 

Through Project Children's partnership with Habitat for Humanity 22 University students from Ireland and Northern Ireland traveled to Gulfport Mississippi on June 19, 2010. The students donated the first week of an 8 week internship in the U.S to help build housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

 

On Saturday, June 19th the group of interns traveled from New York to New Orleans via Delta Airlines. The group was transported to the Mission on the Bay located in Gulfport, we were greeted by Bob Johnson: Faith Relations, Erica Painter: Volunteer Coordinator and Lindsay Asker: co-coordinator of Mission on the Bay. The group was assigned to army type barracks, each with their own names, the male quarters were called Gulfport and the female quarters were called Waveland. Mission on the Bay is an ideal location for this type of project.

 

There were many mandatory duties that had to be carried out throughout the week. It required the group of interns to clean up after or prepare food for the entire Mission on the Bay. On Tuesday, June 22nd the group was required to report to the kitchen at 05:30 to prepare breakfast for approximately 150 volunteers. Throughout the week these duties included dining room duties and bathroom cleaning and often became tough, as it required the interns to be up early and pull together as a team even before a grueling day on site. This again was a fantastic opportunity for these young people to work side by side and experience first hand what volunteering is all about. This kind of commitment required good work ethics, as well as teamwork and resulted in great "hands on" learning experience.

 

Sunday morning was a non working day and therefore Mission on the Bay served breakfast, followed by a trip to the Gulf Islands Water Park where we were met by director of guest services Larry Ahlgren who made us feel very welcome and gave us a guided tour of the park. This was an opportunity for the group to interact and get to know each other. An afternoon barbeque was hosted by the local Methodist Church on Main Street Bay St. Louis where the interns talked with locals about their experiences of Hurricane Katrina, as well as, the problems and trouble that the current oil spill threatened them with. It was at this point that interns put aside their differences from home to work together for the sake of the Hurricane Katrina victims.

 

Monday, June 21st, we reported to the work site at 08:00 hrs at 705 Union St. at which time we were greeted by the director of Habitat for the area, Wendy McDonnell. She informed us that we were part of a housing blitz in which five houses would be simultaneously built in 5 days. Usually on projects such as these groups would be broken up and divided amongst the 5 houses but due to the ideas and goals of Project Children we requested that the group of interns worked along side each other. This had an underlying motive, as the interns are from separate communities and would not, under normal circumstances be subject to working alongside each other never mind working together as a team of friends. Project Children had hoped this would force them to work through their differences and prejudices of one another and leave Bay St. Louis with a different perspective on the "opposite side" of the community. While working on the site we were assigned two coordinators from Habitat, Stephen Scott and Dan Zordon, along with the owner of the house Monica Price.

 

On that first day we started the framing of the house. Everybody worked up to their expectations and more. With good leadership, teamwork and dedication everyone did an excellent job, taken into account the extreme weather conditions. The work continued throughout the week and we brought the project in on time.

 

At 16:00 hrs on Friday, June 25th there was a dedication ceremony at which time the owner of the house had an opportunity to thank the students individually and rewarded them with a home cooked dinner. The future of our world is in the hands of the young people. The world will be a better place for all of us in the future if we invest in the youth of today, the leaders of tomorrow. Project Children has helped to lay the foundation for peace in Northern Ireland and we hope that this foundation is instilled in the next generation as they become the new leaders. For me as Chairman of Project Children, it was a great experience to have the opportunity to work with this incredible group of interns. The project was a huge success thanks to the hard work from all who took part. The partnership between Project Children and Habitat for Humanity is a natural one. Both organizations know the value of finding common ground, working together and making good things happen.

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Project Children Interns “Give Back” in Mississippi

Ryan Roberts a History and English student, interning in USG LLC / International, Greenwood Lake, NY

 

“In late August 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It ultimately damaged 70% of all housing in the Hancock County area. As a result of this severe devastation, the Bay Waveland Area affiliate of Habitat for Humanity was formed in 2006, with the aim of combating this severe housing issue. Since then, the affiliate has built approximately 145 homes in Hancock County, with the help of more than 3,500 volunteers.  This year, Habitat went even further with their ‘Blitz Build’ mission, successfully building five houses in five days with 130 volunteers. Building through volunteerism has always been a key part of the work of Habitat in the region, with many groups returning annually.

 

However, giving back to the community had particular resonance for one group, the 22 students involved with the Project Children Internship program. As Denis Mulcahy, Chairman of the organisation explained, their involvement “is perfect for the program because the American people have given so much by sponsoring young kids, it’s a way of giving back.” The Project Children program allows for a unique opportunity for over 40 students to spend seven weeks gaining work experience in their area
of study.

 

This program relies upon the generosity of American host families in opening their homes to these interns. As volunteers, we found that giving back to the Hancock community created a powerful feeling of contribution, which only intensified as the week continued. This was due to the opportunity to meet with the homeowner herself, which was a strong incentive. The ability to talk and work with Monica made us realise the impact that this program would have upon her life. Whilst thanks and praise were never the motivation for the work, which the interns took on, seeing her gratitude and how much our volunteering meant to her, made the trip worthwhile.

 

This gratitude was not only evident through the response of the homeowners themselves, but also those of the wider community. Much like the host families of the Project Children program, the people of Bay St. Louis also opened their community to all of the Habitat volunteers. Throughout the week we were brought into their homes and treated like family. The ease to which they opened their homes to relative strangers was, for many of the interns, an example of the appreciation of the work that has gone into rebuilding this community. This provided the impetus to work that much harder to achieve their goal. 

 

With the accomplishment of the ‘Blitz Build’ many of the interns felt a strong connection with the Bay Waveland Area. Whilst we were only there for a week, we became immersed in the culture of that region. We not only got to know the people, and community of that region, but more fully understood the deprivation and long term effects of Katrina, and future problems that the oil spill will cause. 

 

As a result of these major natural disasters, Mississippi will forever have connotations with impoverishment and hardship. Yet, programs like Project Children and Habitat remind us that through a commitment to giving back to the community, regions as disparate as Hancock County, Mississippi and Northern Ireland can be connected for generations to come, through Monica’s new home.”

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Laughter at The Idea of a “Bunch of Irish Kids” Building a House

Louise McCann a Commerce student, interning in USG LLC / International, Greenwood Lake, NY relives the thought of the possibility of a group of Irish Students building a house.

 

 “Through my internship with Project Children I was given the opportunity to participate in a Habitat build in Mississippi. After spending a couple of brief days with my host family I didn’t have much time to build up expectations for the week ahead, except from the laughs I got off anyone that heard a bunch of Irish people were going to attempt to build a house in 110 degree heat, which made me a little anxious! However, I can sincerely say that after a week, I was reluctant to leave our bunk house ‘home’.

 

It was a comfort to know that Sam from my host family was a leader on the trip, and as we later found out, a leader on the building site too! However it didn’t take us interns long to get to know each other. I was surprised at how quickly the group of interns and coordinators became friends, sharing everything from sun cream to trainers, thanks Eileen! The build itself was probably the most rewarding experience I have ever been apart of, and probably the reason we all made it out of bed for six in the morning.

 

On raising the first walls of the house, I had severe concerns as to whether we would meet our goal. But, being the competitive team we were, we got the job done with a few hitches here and there and a lot of help from Steve and Dan the Habitat builders. Throughout the build the gratitude and kindness that the volunteers received from our homeowners surpassed any preconceptions of southern hospitality and made the experience even more worthwhile.

 

Again, I can’t stress enough to anyone that asks about my time in Mississippi how grateful I am to both Project Children and the inhabitants of Bay St. Louis for making our Habitat build an unforgettable week. I think that the build enabled the interns to form bonds that I hope and believe will last much longer than our time in America together. Although, I doubt that friendships that make it past late nights, early mornings and buckets of sweat can be forgotten easily.”

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5 Days, 22 Interns, 1 House

Laura Carr a student interning at the Turning Stone Resort, Verona, New York talks about her life changing experiences in Mississippi.

 

“If I was to describe my week doing Habitat for Humanity with Project Children I would say it was unforgettable, life changing and a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the beginning of the week we had bonded as a group, met the builders who would be guiding us and were ready to work together in order to get the house completed in five days. Once we had been given the orientation and safety speech, we were introduced to Monica, who we would be building the house for. What I found inspiring was watching those (including myself) who had never held a hammer in their life getting stuck in straight away.

 

Day one was all about constructing the frames for the house, the team was broken into two, those doing the inside walls and those doing the outside. Day two we began doing the roof and putting the plywood over the frame of the house. Day two was a little frustrating for everyone as we weren't getting things done as fast as we would have liked, but with sheer determination leading into day three we caught up. 

 

By day three we were down three builders, one with a stomach bug and two others with insect bites. But the rest of the team picked up the slack and continued work on the roof and the external walls of the house and everyone, although exhausted, insisted on staying late in order to get ahead as fast as possible. As day four approached, with everyone back to full health, we began putting in windows, continued work on the roof and started painting the external walls. Our final day was a blur. Everyone worked flat out in order to get as much completed as possible. The rest of the windows were put in, holes were filled, painting was done, the roof was finished and scaffolding was taken down.

 

At 4.00 p.m. we were done, we were all in awe at the work we had done in such a short space of time. The most touching part of the week was the blessing of the house and the gratitude Monica showed to us during our time there. Not only did she help out as much as she could, she cooked for us at lunchtime on Friday. Finally, it can't go unmentioned our gratitude to everyone at Project Children for giving us the opportunity to be part of the Habitat for Humanity program, Mission on the Bay for providing us with accommodation and food as well as Steve & Dan, the builders who worked hard with us. We all worked hard and had great fun doing it.”

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Intern Defines Habitat as "A Difficult Experience"

Jason Gallagher a Politics and History student, interning at The Irish Examiner in New York City, Talks about taking part in Habitat for Humanity and how it wasn't always easy.

 

“As soon as you step off the plane and the 100 degree heat hits you, you know the your time there is going to be a ''different experience.'' Luckily though, the generosity and welcome that the Deep South is famous for overcomes the heat obstacle and leaves you with lasting memory, rather than just a sunburnt forehead. Working in New York City really does highlight the stark differences that are apparent in America. People in NYC always seem to be in a rush, or going somewhere, often leaving no time for others and even the politeness that every kid is brought up with.

 

In the South, there is no such thing, with experiences of families welcoming the interns to their house to show their appreciation for what we're doing with Habitat for Humanity and sharing honest experiences of Hurricane Katrina that would be tough for anyone affected to be talking about. The first time I belted up, fitted the helmet and grabbed the hammer, I knew that this house wasn't going to be built by just the Irish contingent. Without the help of the supervisor's, the organizers and the other groups that were building, the enjoyment and comradeship simply wouldn't have been the same.

 

While interacting with the Korean and American groups back at base, you soon learn that the geography that divides us does nothing to divide our personalities and personal interests, leading to an enjoyable experience for everyone and even the sharpening of our basketball skills that were non-existent the week before.”

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Interns Experience A Great Southern Welcome

Aidan Little an industrial electrical engineering student, interning at Neligan Construction, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, talks about the hospitality felt from the people of the South and how this helped the interns through a difficult and challenging  week.

 

“It was evident from our arrival in Mississippi to the Mission on the Bay in Bay St. Louis that the southern people were very welcoming. Upon getting a personal greeting from the staff, we met up with
all the other groups who, like ourselves, were working with Habitat for Humanity and all were
from different religious backgrounds. We instantly became friends and were working side by side the following day. 

 

After our first day of work, we were invited to John and Jane Ann Gleeson’s house who were old friends of Denis Mulcahy, for some southern style food.  John and Jane Ann were very hospitable and made us feel right at home. This meal we enjoyed was a classic southern jambalaya, which is a rice dish consisting of shrimp, bacon, ham with seasoning and peppers! It was delicious and flavourful and a true signature dish of the south.

 

When working at Habitat for Humanity we met our house owner, Monica Price, who was very appreciative of the work we had done.  Monica had been working with us on the house throughout, and she organized a feast for us on our day of completion.  The dish was called gumbo, a dish made with oysters, peppers, chicken onion and many seasonings. It was also an exciting exotic dish compared to our everyday cuisine! “

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The Feeling of Achievement

David Sproule an Industrial Electrical Engineering student, interning at McGowan Builders, New York expresses how he felt achievement at giving something back to the American community.

 

“I really enjoyed the week we spent in the Bay Waveland area of Mississippi, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. It was a great chance to give something back to the community and it was such an amazing experience. I know I’ll always look back on it and think of how great it was and wishing I could go back for the rest of the summer. I was a bit anxious about it because of how hot we thought it was going to be. But once the week was over we soon got adjusted to the new climate. Having grew up on a farm I am well used to a bit of hard work and I’m not afraid to get stuck in, but the hardest part was the heat.

 

Our first day there was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit which was such a shock to the system, a lot of sweating was done, so a lot of water had to be drunk to keep us hydrated. Working on the site was a great way of getting to know each other, and really broke the ice. I met some great characters, both in our own group and outsiders as well. I would recommend that anyone that has the opportunity to go, does because it is a lifetime experience and is a great feeling of achievement to see a house standing from what was just a pile of wood at the start of the week. You really feel like you’ve helped someone who deserves it.”

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A Very Emotional Moment as PC Interns Reveal House to New Owner

Andrew McMaster a Law student interning at the office of Peter King, Congressman, New York talks about handing over the house to the new owner in what turned out to be an emotional experience.

 

"It was a great experience for our whole group to meet the home owner Monica, because it was a reminder that those devastated by Hurricane Katrina were real people and real families that we could all relate to. It was a tremendous motivation for us to work hard throughout the week to build the house to the best of our abilities. Monica was heavily involved in the construction of the house; she was on site throughout each and every day and more than pulled her own weight in order to create her new home. However, her contribution to the project should be measured in more than the number of nails she hammered in: to hear her personal story and what a life changing week this would be for her was truly inspiring for our Project Children group. Seeing how she had remained so positive and optimistic following the aftermath of the hurricane was a great life lesson for us all. On the last day, as a sign of her gratitude, Monica cooked us a traditional Southern meal of 'gumbo'. None of us had ever tasted it before and most may choose to never do so again. Nevertheless, her kind gesture and hospitality was definitely appreciated!

 

On completion of the house our construction supervisor Stephen Scott led us in a blessing of the house. Following this there was an official presentation of the house made to Monica. She spoke of how grateful she was to each and every one of us from Project Children for what we had done for her. It was clearly a very emotional moment for her and we were all touched by her kind words.

 

The week had been a very draining one for all of us, the vast majority of our group had no real experience before the week began of working on a building site, let alone in record breaking temperatures unsuited to our blindingly pale Northern Irish complexion! However, in spite of all this the experience of representing the two communities of our country with Habitat for Humanity was a fantastic privilege for all of us. That we were able to help such a deserving person as Monica Price, made the experience all the more special. We from Project Children all wish Monica well in her new home and hopefully we will stay in contact with her for a long time to come."

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Interns Leave Mississippi Feeling Anything Is Possible

Christopher Currie a Business IT student, interning at Michael Stapleton Associates, New York City talks about the feeling he got from his time in Mississippi.

“Before heading out to take part in the Habitat for Humanity project I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was told in a number of words I was building a house in Mississippi and it was going to be very hot. In hindsight, looking back now, I’m grateful for the lack of knowledge about what exactly we would be doing. If someone was to describe to me what it was like beforehand I'm not to sure I would be as keen to take part and consequently I would have missed out on one of the best experiences of my life.

 

I will always remember at the house blessing, Monica the owner of the home, thanking us all from the bottom of her heart and getting very emotional at our act of kindness. This made the whole experience worthwhile and all the more rewarding for us. I have learned to not underestimate myself, or my capabilities, and that if I put effort into something anything is possible. I feel that from taking part in the Habitat for Humanity and working in a team with the other interns has allowed me to get to know them a lot better and form friendships which I will take away with me when I get back to Northern Ireland.”

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Building Much More Than A House

Stacey Dillon an Architecture student, interning at Durr Mechanical, Croton, New York talks about how much more than a house was built, that the changed views and friendships made were going to be as long lasting as Monica Price's new house

“The week spent in Mississippi allowed interns from both sides of the community to work together to help someone rebuild their life and move on, even years after Hurricane Katrina. The morale, togetherness and determination to give Monica Price not only a house but a home is representative of what Project Children has done for the past thirty five years in bringing the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland together. 

Habitat for Humanity in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi showed interns that there are much greater problems in the world other than the religious divide at home and encouraged them to work together for the greater good. Even after the troubles have ended, a fear remains amongst the people of Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, the interns faced extreme conditions, long and difficult days, roughing it at camp and the heat exhaustion, which was just a few of a long list of elements that were stacked against us. But we overcame religious prejudice and worked together, which helped to create equality amongst the group and a sense of pride and achievement.

In sharing such a life changing and testing experience it has helped us to broaden our minds to look past a religious divide and work towards a greater future for our country. The memories that we now share of working alongside one another, encouraging each other and helping one another is a true testament to the work of Project Children and the difference the organisation has made to the lives of over 22,000 children and interns in the 36 years in making a difference. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for such a unique experience.”

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A Pleasure Taking Part

Brendan Morgan, Project Children Volunteer reviews his week in Mississippi and the enjoyment in taking part

 

“It was a pleasure taking part in this endeavor to work for a smile, a hug or a thank you is something more enjoyable, that money can’t do!  Working in New Orleans along side the Project Children interns from Northern Ireland and Ireland let me experience how people can come together for a reason that will help build another person’s future.”