Class of 2016

Aisling O'Doherty - Waterstone Inn, New York

Aisling O’Doherty Student at University of Limerick, studying Business, majoring in Marketing, interned at The Waterstone Inn, Greenwood Lake, New York.

Where do I start when I’m after the most amazing experience with Project Children! I’m so surprised to say that our week with Habitat in Alabama is undoubtedly one of the best weeks of my life! Getting the chance to help those who need it and doing it with 30 odd strangers made it all the better! We had no choice but to trust each other quickly, that was definitely the case for Maria and myself the day we were hanging doors a bit of trust and a line of communication was the only thing that prevented my fingers from ending up at one with the door frame! We learned a lot about ourselves down there, If I had been told the details of what I would’ve been doing in Tuscaloosa I would’ve said both physically and mentally I wouldn’t be able! However being down there and just getting stuck in we all surprised ourselves! A huge thanks to Peter and everyone with Habitat, the week couldn’t have been any more challenging, fun and memorable all in one! I’d do it all again in the morning

After Alabama came my internship in the Waterstone Inn of Greenwood Lake, a place that became a home from home all thanks to the Mulcahy family. From the get go I was made feel welcome and included in anything they did. My Internship at the inn was a very enjoyable one. It involved a lot of interacting with the guests on check in and departure and advising them with acticities to do during their trip. This will help me a lot with my degree as I am studying marketing which is all about positive interactions with your customers. I helped out with the breakfast, the cleaning of the rooms and the laundry I was up early in the morning and free to explore in the evenings. My time here has flown by quicker than I ever thought it would! I have loved every second of it and I am so Grateful to Pat , Denis and everyone involved in Project Children for allowing me to be part of such an amazing experience! I have learned so much through this program and that will stick with me forever, I will never forget this summer. A huge thank you to Una & Sam Gormley for taking me places and inviting me to events they were all great fun! I cannot thank everyone involved enough, I am forever grateful for this experience, for the people I’ve gotten to meet and for the memories that will last forever. An opportunity of a lifetime that surpassed all of my expectations!

Amy Rice - Bubb Grogan and Cocca LLP, New Jersey

Amy Rice a University of Ulster Law with Criminology Graduate. Interning at Bubb Grogan and Cocca LLP New Jersey.

I spent my summer interning at a law firm called Bubb, Grogan and Cocca LLP Law in Morristown, New Jersey. I chose this internship as it offered me an invaluable insight into how the American legal system operated; a once in a lifetime opportunity that no other internship could have given me. Over the course of the 6 weeks I learnt how to use 'Time Matters', I dabbled with summations of depositions and I also attended multiple court sessions in the Municipal courts of both Madison and Dover.

Through the first week spent at Habitat for Humanity, I met many people who I've been lucky enough to have forged long-term friendships with. During the weekends, I travelled with several other interns into New York, where we experienced the 4th of July holiday, visited the Statue of Liberty, experienced both the MET and the American Natural History museums, shopped till we dropped and experienced a whole different way of life.

I stayed with the Kostyak family in Morristown, without whom I would not have had such an amazing experience so I would just like to thank Anne and Bill for their hospitality and kindness over the course of the 7 weeks. This was such an amazing experience which has given me memories and friendships for life. I'd like to thank Project Children and all those behind the scenes who made this amazing experience possible, as well as all those at Bubb, Grogan and Cocca LLP who gave me such a fantastic insight and also the Grant and Milliken families for their generosity.

Caolin Grant - Bruno, Gerbino and Soriano Law office, New Jersey

Caolin Grant a Graduate from University of Ulster, studied Law, interned at Bruno, Gerbino and Soriano Law office, New Jersey.

I stayed with Matt and Michelle Smith, and their two sons, Brendan and Matthew. I worked with Matt and I travelled to and from work with him each day to the office in New Jersey. Bruno, Gerbino and Soriano specialises in investigating fraudulent insurance claims. They have a significant clientele, including some of the biggest insurance companies in the United States. It was a great experience to see the more practical application of my legal studies in an unfamiliar jurisdiction.

During my internship I was involved in a number of different legal activities including depositions, arbitrations and even attending a number of different courts throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I also had a number of office duties including learning and organising the filing system, helping others with projects, as well as my own project of creating a document for the firms clients containing a list of common medical treatments they may have to asses. For this project I had to make a list of the most common treatments insurance companies had to asses, conduct medical research to learn what symptoms would require such treatments, how doctors would administer these treatments and what the health risks and benefits of each would be. This had the twofold benefit of informing the employees of our clients about medical care they would be assessing, which was useful as usually they would not be medically educated. The second benefit to creating this document was that it would be offered as a complimentary service from the firm, showing the firm would go above and beyond for their clients improving relations and maybe leading to further business.

Overall, the days were long and the work was hard but it was a most rewarding experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. I would like to thank everyone at Bruno, Gerbino and Soriano, Project Children and to my host family for giving met his opportunity and making it one of the best summers of my life.

Christina Cousins - Employment Horizons, New Jersey

Christina Cousins student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Biomedical Science, interned at Employment Horizons New Jersey.

When the day finally came to set off for America, I could not have been more excited. I had no idea what to expect, but it has been an absolute joy. I interned at Employment Horizons in New Jersey which is a non-profit organisation, providing jobs for those with mental or physical disabilities. I can say wholeheartedly that it was the best experience I’ve had in a long time. Each client is so individual with incredibly diverse personalities and each day was so different which made me excited to get started and see what the day would bring! The members of staff were so incredibly kind and friendly that I immediately felt at-ease and settled straight into the work, bonding instantly with the clients and staff alike. It was a strange feeling waking up and being excited for work, and so this experience has helped me to solidify what I want to do with the rest of my life. I will miss everyone in Employment Horizons dearly and hope to return some day.

Carol and Artie Grant were myself and Megan’s host family and ‘second parents’ and we’ve loved having the opportunity to stay with them. They were so kind to us and constantly went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed our time in America. We were able to travel to New York numerous times and even went to Broadway – a bucket-list event for me! With Artie’s sarcastic wit and Carol’s nurturing ways, going back home to my student house will feel like something’s missing for sure. I am forever grateful to Project Children for providing me with this experience for the summer and for the Grant family for hosting us as though we were part of their family and making it one of the best summers ever.

Cliona McFarline - Department of Persons with Disabilities, New Jersey

Cliona McFarline student at University of Ulster, studying Occupational Therapy, interned at Department of Person with Disabilities, New Jersey.

My experience with Project Children was amazing start to finish! I interned with DPD , a non profit organisation which provides a range of services to help individuals and families with disabilities by 'providing help and creating hope.' I can not express into words how wonderful this organisation is, the staff are passionate about their cause and allowed me to see every programme offered! I spent time with the special needs group at the day centre, engaging clients in meaningful occupational and activities aimed to enhance their fine motor skills. Within the group homes, the nurses and I provided advice to staff on care for the clients. Through daily interactions and fund raising, I was able to get to know the clients and their personalities. I also has the chance to participate in the daily running of Straight and Narrow programmes (run by Catholic Charities also), experiencing first hand how the programmes help those with alcohol and substance abuse get back on their feet and make positive changes. These opportunities have enhanced my skills as a communicator and professional by attending to the clients individual needs. It has emphasised the importance of teamwork and how everyone's job has a positive impact on another.

Being able to experience the American healthcare system and compare to the Uk, allowed me to identity gaps in both services and think of ways that these gaps could be filled. I would like to thank project children and everyone involved in bringing us safely here and home, I will be forever in our debt for this amazing opportunity. To my host family; Scott, Mary, Julia, kaitlyn and Shannon Milliken, I can not express into words how much I am grateful for meeting you all!! Thank you so much for welcoming into your home and making me part of your family. I will cherish the memories we have made together and hope to see you all again soon. For those thinking of applying for the next Project Children internship - do it, it's the best decision you'll ever make!

Cormac Quinn - MSA Security, New York

Cormac Quinn a student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Computer Science, interned at MSA Security, Manhattan, New York.

My internship this summer was with MSA Security in downtown Manhattan, NY. I was extremely lucky to have been placed in such a great location with a prestigious organisation. Less than a five-minute walk from the World Trade Centre and the Hudson River, I was never bored during lunch or after work. I worked on multiple software engineering projects throughout the 7 weeks I was with MSA, which allowed me to build my skills in Python and Web Development. Reporting to the director, I had full control over the technologies used which allowed me to gain useful architectural experience. My co-workers were fantastic and there was never a dull moment with them during (or after) work. One of them even invited us to his beach house in Jersey Shore for a weekend and I’ve already planned on meeting him back in Ireland.

Building houses for Habitat for Humanity in Alabama was a great way to start the summer with all of the other interns. It was extremely rewarding and is something I’ll never forget.I want to thank Vinny for all that he’s done for James and I this summer, we’ve been treated extremely well and are very lucky to have had him as our host.

There are far too many highlights of the summer to name them all but some notable ones include Habit, the water park, Fire Island, Washington D.C., the 4th July street party and all of the sights I managed to visit in New York City. It was definitely an unforgettable summer and I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of applying. I’ve made lifelong memories and friendships, for which I can’t thank Project Children enough.

Dara Kilcullen - USG Performing Arts, New York

Dara Kilcullen a student from Maynooth University studying Arts, interning at USG Performing Arts, Greenwood Lake, New York.

Spending seven weeks away from home with people you have never met before can be tough to adjust and settle into. Not with the people I have met all thanks to Project Children and Habitat for Humanity for giving me the chance to make a family happy and give back to them what they had lost in unfortunate events. I really did not know what to expect getting on that plane in Dublin and meeting everyone for the first time but I was glad these were the people I would be spending every minute with for the first week in Alabama. Being for that week in Alabama I don’t think I would have settled in so comfortably with my fellow interns and co-ordinators. The week in Alabama really helped everyone get to know each other and even themselves. Hard labour work really pays off in the end and we really felt such pride when we seen the faces of the families that were being given their new house.

After the week in Alabama I had begun my Internship with USG Performing Arts in Greenwood Lake, which is involved in mainly the international Rose of Tralee which I had no idea of prior coming to the States but I loved every second of it seeing as I am a man and seeing plenty of gorgeous women on a daily basis did make my life any much easier. For my first task I was to set up social media accounts for the Irish Summer Camp that was being held following month along with going to a few nearby towns to hand out fliers. After I had set up the social media accounts my next and main project was to set up a donate-to-vote campaign for the Florida Rose of Tralee which was only launched on my arrival so I was starting the Florida centre on fresh ground and I believe I helped it grow massively for the six weeks I was here. The campaign was a great success with emails and calls coming in from all around the states and Ireland to congratulate us on our achievement.

To conclude my whole seven weeks that I have spent in America on behalf of the wonderful organisation that is Project Children I would say do it. The best seven weeks you could ever possibly have at this time in your life. The people you meet the connections you make over here will follow you in your life and will be a great asset to you. I cannot thank the Gormley Family for putting up with my behaviour all the six weeks but they did and I really could not have asked for a better welcoming family like theirs. Also I would love to thank not just Project Children but Denis Mulcahy and all the Co-ordinators that make this summer possible every year for students like myself to be given a chance like I’ve had this summer and it will be forever in my heart.

David Long - Pinnacle Investments LLC, Syracuse

David Long student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Maths and Finance, interned at Pinnacle Investments LLC, Syracuse New York.

I was fortunate to spend 6 weeks interning at Pinnacle Investments LLC in Syracuse which has been a valuable opportunity and will definitely benefit me in my future career. I worked alongside Jeremy, one of the newer advisors within the team of Financial Advisors , everyone in the office welcomed me from day one which made it so easy to settle in and ensured this experience was worthwhile. Pinnacle is very client based and I got to take part in all different aspects of the job, such as joining orientation presentations to try and attract new clients, sitting in on client meetings to observe how they manage their difference accounts relative to the client’s goals and reviewing different mutual funds performances to identify any low performing funds.

I only get to do a small amount of Finance in my course so this has been a great experience for me as it has given me the opportunity to see what this field of work is like first-hand. I have learned that you can’t learn everything you need to know for this business out of a book, there are so many different skills required to be a financial advisor and every advisor is unique in their methods.

I am very thankful to my host John who looked after me very well during my stay, he was always up for going places and getting to know the other interns in the Syracuse area. Highlights of my trip would have to be getting to see three corners of New York State – from Niagara Falls, to Plattsburg and Lake Placid, and then to Wall Street. John introduced me to his family, many of his friends and clients, through this I have made many new friends and connections that I will never forget. Overall this has been a fantastic experience for me and I thank everyone at Pinnacle for this opportunity and making me feel like part of the team.

Emma McAleer - Turning Stone Resort and Casino, New York

Emma McAleer a student from Queens University Belfast, Studying Accounting, interned at Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Verona, New York.

This summer in Central New York, I was interning at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in 3 separate departments: Accounts Payable, Events and the Spa& Fitness Centre. This unique experience has guided me through a variety of different career options. Spending most of my time in Accounts Payable, I was entrusted with various projects: entering invoices onto their system to ensure they were paid on time; stuffing cheques; and statement of reconciliations. Accounts Payable not only dealt with the Turning Stone Resort & Casino's expenditure but also the Oneida Nation's expenditure, through other enterprises, such as their Savon Gas stations, health centres, police departments and so on.

For my 4th week of my internship, I was given the opportunity of being in the events departments, where I overshadowed events coordinators for a show girl shift and a RV One show. This gave me an insight into how much time and effort events required and also, showed me a different career option. For my final week of my internship, I observed front of house operations within the Spa and Fitness Centre of Turning Stone. With being front of house, you need excellent customer interaction skills, to ensure they have the best experience.

Whilst on my time in Central New York, I had two host families: the Matts and the Crawfords. They both lived on Oneida Lake and we got to experience boat trips, floating in tubes and the calming feeling a lake brings. On top of the lake experience, I got to travel to the wonderful Niagara Falls! The Maid of the Mist illumination tour was a breathtaking experience, with being so close to the Falls. Another trip was completed to the Adirondack mountains, up to Old Forge. We seen breathtaking views, which added to the ?adventure. Also, we went to Utica's brewery's Saranac festival and the Great American Irish Festival.

I can't thank my host families and my area coordinator, Pat Costello, enough for providing a top class experience. I have made lifelong friends and can now add this unique internship to my CV, and not many people will have endured this experience.

Gerard Finnegan - International Minute Press, Plymouth, Michigan

Gerard Finnegan student at University of Ulster, studying Business Studies, Interned at International Minute Press, Plymouth, Michigan.

Over the course of the 7 weeks that I have been located in Michigan I have learned and been involved in many things. Things I have been involved in from my time spent here includes Plymouth AM Rotary Club, Business Network International (BNI) and Boys n Brews. Rotary meetings were scheduled for 7am every Tuesday morning. This is when members of the community join together holding weekly meetings to better the community and help charities internationally. Within my time here I was involved in public speaking and presenting. I also volunteered for their motorcycle charity run on a Sunday afternoon.

Business Networking International would normally be on a Thursday morning at 7am however, sometimes we subbed for another friend on a Wednesday. This was a great chance for networking. People (around 20) from all different professions such as Lawyers, Accountants, Real Estate Agents, Financial Advisors etc. They discussed business ideas they have for their profession. This also got me involved with a lot of public speaking.

Boys n Brews, was also another great networking event. People ranging from lawyers to managers of guardian industries (2nd largest glass maker in the world) and so on. I met lots of great contacts through this. When first coming to International Minute Press in Plymouth, Michigan the role I was supposed to carry out didn’t go to plan as they were unaware I had design experience. So while interning here I was actually more involved than initially thought. Designing business cards, flyers, brochures etc and dealing with my own customers through requirements they set, problems they had etc. I also was involved in the printing processes out back such as padding, perforation, lamination etc.

Grace Rivers - The Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York

Grace Rivers a student from University of Ulster studying Law, interning at The Supreme Court of the State of New York.

For my internship I spent my summer in New York at the Supreme Court of the state of New York in Nassau County interning with honourable David P Sullivan. During the 6 weeks between 27th June and 5th August 2016, I participated in conferences in chambers, assisted with the administrative responsibilities of the part, and observed a full range of proceedings in the courthouse, including jury selection, pleas, hearings, trails and sentences. Interning with a judge within the Supreme Court was a privilege. Judge Sullivan put aside time to talk one on one about what he does which is specialising in the drug diversion course allowing addicts to get a second chance in their lives, instead of going to prison they are enrolled in a course to give them the support they need to fight their addiction. Over the internship I was able to observe the graduation day of the people on these programme which was an extremely rewarding experience. Over the course of the internship I visited other court rooms dealing with cases such as various sex crimes, assault, manslaughter and murder. Judge Sullivan introduced me to other judges, giving me the opportunity to have an insight into the difference of approaches judges take on particular cases they deal with.

Interning in America allowed me to develop my knowledge of the Amercian legal system through hands on experience which I could not have achieve anywhere else. The courts have a wonderful internship program with lectures on various topics such as crime scene investigation and civil law. This fantastic opportunity was a once in a life time experience which I could not have obtained without the dedicated team involved in project children. When I was not working I went to the city to do sightseeing including the high line, ground zero, the 9/11 museum and many more. On the weekend I spent time with my host family Ray and Joanna Gallagher, who are the coordinators for Long Island. We visited the beach and watched firework displays together including visiting their friends and family. Ray and Joanna were very accommodating and made me feel part of their family taking myself and other interns out to dinner, family barques and? to shopping centres.

Overall my time in America has been unforgettably rewarding and I recommend it highly to everyone. I have had the privilege to meet some amazing people include the staff who work with judge Sullivan and the other interns at the court. The time I spent in habitat with the other interns from Ireland, has allowed me to form friendships with various people and develop my skills in teamwork which will benefit me in my career. My internship has enabled me to make connections with people in America, this gives me an addition benefit to allow me to further my future career in law. I would like to thank the whole team of project children and my host family for making my summer internship a truly unforgettable experience.

James Kane - MSA Security, New York

James Kane a student from Queen’s University Belfast, studying Finance, interned at MSA Security Long Island, New York.

I spent my internship working in the finance department of MSA Security in New York City. Everyone within the company was very friendly and they made me feel like part of the team from the very beginning. The work I completed was relevant to my degree and this therefore allowed me to use my financial knowledge and transfer it into the real world. I also got the chance to develop some skills, such as IT, which I will be able to implement in my work back home. The team always kept me busy and I am thankful that they allowed me to be a member of their team for the summer, it really was a great experience and one I will never forget.

Working in NYC was a surreal experience. I was used to seeing all these landmarks in movies so to see them in person every day was incredible. I would meet up with a few of the other New York interns after work and there was always something new for us to do every day. From going up the Empire State Building to walking around Central Park, we always made the most of the evenings in the City.

During my internship in New York, I stayed with Vinny in Long Island. Vinny is honestly one of the nicest and kindest people I have ever met. He was very welcoming and made me feel at home from the start. He was extremely generous and gave me us the independence to do whatever we wanted so I can’t thank him enough. He really was a great host!

I will look back at my 7 weeks with Project Children with great fondness. I made so many great friends and it truly was the best experience of my life.

Jessica O'Connor - USG Performing Arts, New York

Maria McCrory - Voxx International, New York

Maria McCrory a student from Queen’s University Belfast, studying Finance, interned at Voxx International, Long Island, New York.

I study Finance at Queen's university Belfast and I interned in the accountancy department of Voxx International in Happauge, NY. I worked mainly on Microsoft excel updating the company's budgets for the current fiscal period. My boss Perry always made sure I understood why I was doing what I was doing and he showed me exactly what he wanted me to do before leaving me to complete the task. He was very approachable and I always felt I could ask him questions if I had an queries.

Throughout my internship my ability to use excel improved immensely and as well as that I learnt how to work independently in a professional environment. I now feel much more prepared for my placement year beginning in September. I stayed in Bohemia, NY with the Ostermann family and I couldn't have asked for a better host family. They were incredibly friendly and welcoming and treated me like a member of their own family for my entire stay.

I worked at the same company as my host mum so we spent a lot of time together and grew close over the 6 weeks. The Ostermann's have a 19 year old daughter and a 17 year old son so it was nice to have company my own age too. Their daughter Alexa was even kind enough to invite me to spend time with her and her friends. The family have a very busy social life so I always had plenty of fun things to do in my spare time and I got to meet so many interesting and friendly people. I had the most amazing summer ever and I am truly inspired by the kindness and generosity that was shown to me. I am extremely thankful to project children and to everyone who had a role in making my summer so enjoyable and memorable.

Mark McTeggart - Sullivan Superior Court, New York

Mark Mc Teggart a student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Law with Politics, interned at Sullivan Superior Court, Long Island.

The opportunity to partake in an internship within the judicial sector in Nassau County was an unforgettable and very informative experience. My time with Judge Sullivan allowed me to gain exposure to many aspects of American Criminal Law and provided me with the chance to distinguish the American system with the courts back home. Having sat in on various aspects of the trial procedure, including pre-trial conferences, jury selection and sentencings, I have been able to make first hand use of the knowledge I have developed from my degree. Alongside our time in court, the interns partook in lectures every week ranging from talks with attorneys in different sectors of law to classes on the work of crime scene investigators. It was outstanding to intern within such an interesting and busy court and the internship has provided me with great understanding of the courts for the future.

Beyond my internship, the chance to experience life in New York is something I will remember for years to come. Having visited many of the world renowned sites and watch the famous New York Yankees with fellow interns, I have definitely been persuaded that America is somewhere I will visit and perhaps, live again. The hospitality of Raymond and Jo-Anne Gallagher to myself and my two fellow interns was exceptional and I would like to thank them for their generosity to us throughout the two months. Ultimately, Project Children has provided me with an invaluable opportunity for my future career development and a great insight into life in America.

Matt Crowe - BHC Architects, New York

Matt Crowe student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Architecture interned at BHC Architects Manhattan.

Having spent the week with Jojo in habitat, I wasn't nervous at all about my first few days with my hosts. They made us feel welcome from the start and made my summer in New York the best it could have possibly been. I was interning with BHC Architects in their Manhattan office. I worked alongside their senior designer on a residential project for Long Island. I was drawing plans which gave me great practical experience for the future and I can definitely see a huge amount of progress in myself over the summer as I learnt so much and gained so much confidence. This will be invaluable experience for when I apply for my year out placements next year and I have no worries about walking into an office now. It was also great to work in such a big city. I feel like it helped my general confidence in meeting new people and communicating with people of very diverse cultures. It was also amazing to be amongst so many famous buildings and to see the Brooklyn Bridge at night was a personal highlight.

My hosts made all this possible. I felt at home all summer and this made me relaxed going to the city and helped me do my best in my internship. They brought us to a relatives block party over the fourth of July weekend which was really fun, and very interesting to see that side of suburban American culture. They also were very accommodating helping us organise and get to things we wanted to do. We went to the beach and a water park which were both really fun ways to relax and get away from the busy city at the weekends. Jojo ad Ray are two of the most generous people I have met, and I am so thankful to them for giving me this opportunity which will have a lasting effect on my future.

Meabh McManus - NJ State Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association, New Jersey

Meabh McManus graduate from Queen’s University Belfast, studied Law, interned at NJFMBA, New Jersey.

Thanks to Project Children, I enjoyed the summer of a life time! I interned at the New Jersey Firefighters Municipal Benevolent association (FMBA) which was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I worked with the esteemed in house Attorney and the legal professional in their admiral work, advocating for the social labour rights of these Firefighters in the state of New Jersey. I learnt a lot from my position and gained invaluable legal skills which I will carry on as I further my career and also learnt a lot about the substantial labour law of the US, which fascinated me after having studied European labour law and seeing how the two systems differed. I think my work experience in this position was particularly special and exciting in this Presidential Election year as I engaged in many different debates on how our campaign for fair social freedoms would be hindered or encouraged under particular administrations. A specific example of a controversial case was the current case of the fight for pension rights against a Conservative New Jersey Governor. The dedicated team at the FMBA are passionate and devoted to their cause, and it was an honour to be a part of this endeavour for civil and social development in the USA for these firefighters, in a legal respect or through PR projects I was given.

The Donnelly family are the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. I appreciated them opening up their home to me and helping me to experience real American culture, and in particular the unique culture of “Jersey”! I can now officially call myself an honorary Jersey girl as I am a baseball aficionado (go Cougars!) and have spent many a weekend relaxing along the Jersey Shore. They are like family to me now and the kids especially will have a special place in my heart. They shared every experience with me and ones in particular that I will never forget were the Yankees baseball game in Yankee stadium; The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island; 4th of July Fireworks in Jersey City and front row at the Village People, and my final week spent at their beautiful home in Long Beach Island and the unforgettable experience of Atlantic City! I am forever thankful to them and hope to see them soon in the future in Ireland or back again in the US.

Meabh Ryan - Congressman Peter King’s Office, New York

Meabh Ryan a Graduate from The National University of Ireland, studied History, Sociology and Politics, interned at Congressman Peter King’s office, Long Island.

After a week of working together with Habitat for Humanity, we as interns all went our separate ways to begin work experience in various fields. My internship would be in Congressman Peter King’s district office in Massapequa Park, Long Island, as a student of History and Politics I had experience of being in a political office before however this opportunity was still a complete change from everything I knew. From just being in the office I immediately began to expand my knowledge of how American politics worked. In addition to this I gained skills that included responding to constituents regarding various issues and following up on various cases. It was amazing to work in the office of a man who played a very important role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process and it reminded me of the progress and good that Project Children has achieved over the years and how amazing a program it really was.

My host family Kevin and Mary Farrell made my experience all the more enjoyable as they looked out for me and allowed me to grow and experience America for the first time in a safe but independent way. I will be grateful to them always for providing me with a home for 2 months, like I am grateful to all the contributors to this wonderful program. As many know Project Children began in 1975 by bringing 6 children of different backgrounds from an unstable and violent Northern Ireland at the time, to spend their summer in Greenwood Lake New York, after the initial success of this, the practice of bringing a few children to America for the summer grew strong and expanded to locations all over the U.S with more and more children being given the opportunity this year. One of these children included my Mother who at just 10 years old left a divided Belfast city in the 1980’s. My Mother credits this experience as truly changing her life for the better, it not only provided her with new opportunity and a new perspective of the world, it allowed her to meet lifelong friends and a family that she still keeps in contact with to this day. Although she was just a child I like to think in a way I’m continuing her legacy in creating hopes for a better world at home as well as further afield, and in that way I hope I’ve made her proud.

I’d additionally like to add a special thanks to all the coordinators, fundraisers and those involved for helping make our experience so incredible and of course Mr. Denis Mulcahy for making it all possible. In my first week of starting in the congressman’s office I began to learn the nature of how a constituency office works and its role in a district, as a politics student I had an idea of how U.S politics worked yet seeing a congressional office in person and actually working in a political environment was a completely different experience. Compared with the week in habitat the week in New York was a much more fast paced and formal atmosphere but I quickly adapted to the new environment as I had done before. After gradually being introduced to how things in the office worked I was soon answering phones and speaking directly with constituents. By week two I had learned how to write case summaries and respond to minor issues faced by constituents. There are so many useful skills to be learned in the office that you can take into many jobs.

Megan McGlinchey - Employment Horizons, New Jersey

Megan McGlinchey a student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Psychology, interned at Employment Horizons, New Jersey.

I am very appreciative to have had the opportunity being apart of Project Children. In Alabama we were working in very hot conditions and helped build houses which was a completely new experience for me there were a few challenges, however it was very enjoyable and rewarding. This was a brilliant team bonding experience and for the majority of the group fixing up houses was all very new. After Alabama we all went to our separate destinations, I stayed in New Jersey with the Grant Family with another girl Christina. The Grant's are two of the kindest people I have?met, they opened up their home and would have done anything for us, for that I am so grateful.

Working at Employment Horizons for the summer was truly an amazing experience. It is a non-profit organization and it involves working with adults with special needs. Employment horizons is workshop-based and each of the clients have their individual job to fulfill. The staff at employment horizons were so welcoming and friendly from the beginning, they are in inspiration alone as they encourage and motivate each of the clients to do their very best each day. This organization benefits the clients not only improving on their self-esteem and social skills, but for a lot of them it builds work ethic and develops other qualities to be able to work for a job in the community. Each day there was something new, some good days with the clients and very few bad days but it allowed me to put into practice using my initiative and dealing with any given situation. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to look after my own group, I was able to get to know some of the clients a lot more and I will definitely miss working with them a lot I hope I have influenced a positive impact on their lives. It is has been a memorable summer and the experience I have gained from working at Employment Horizons will benefit me for my future studies.

Peter Kidd - Michael Arcuri’s Law office and District Attorney’s office, New York

Peter Kidd Graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, studied Law, interned at Michael Arcuri’s Law office, Utica New York and DA’s office, Madison County.

Spending the summer of 2016 in America after a stressful final year of law at UUJ was one of the best experiences of my life. From my first night in Long Island with strangers to our last with friends in Manhattan, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Following our time at Habitat in Alabama, five of us interns were sent to the Syracuse area where we were coordinated by the honourable, Mr Patrick J Costello. I struck gold, staying on a beautiful lake with Brian and Theresa Matt. They were awesome people and we quickly bonded over wine and cheese.

I became Brian and Theresa’s unofficial adopted son. Whether it was slagging off each other’s accent or talking politics, they were always up for a joke about! But when I wasn’t chilling on the boat or trying my hand at water skiing, I was very fortunate to intern with Mr Michael Arcuri in Utica, a former Democratic Congressman and District Attorney. With him, I learned much of the local area and helped him in his political campaign to become Oneida County Court Judge, as well as manning his legal office. By parading in Rome, NY, to promote the campaign or going door-to-door in an attempt to get petitions signed, Mr Arcuri expanded my knowledge of the US political system and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I was able to combine my experience in Utica along with my work in Wampsville, where I worked in the District Attorney’s Office of Madison County. It was extremely rewarding working in my view having the chance to work on the prosecution observing the courts in cases ranging from child support payments to the most serious of sexual offences. While it was a brief opportunity for me to learn the US Justice System, it was humbling to see the ‘real life law’ affecting lives for the better.

All in all, I can’t thank Denis and everyone at Project Children enough for a great summer.

Richard Macqueen - Pocono Medical Centre

Roisin Murray - Biddy Murphy Irish Gifts, Michigan

Róisín Murray a student at University College Dublin, studying Business and Law, Interned at Biddy Murphy Irish Gifts, Michigan.

Thanks to Project Children, I had the privilege of interning at Biddy Murphy Irish Gifts in South Haven, Michigan. Biddy Murphy is a global retailer for premium Irish goods, primarily selling online although there is a sales outlet in South Haven where I was based. Throughout the duration of my internship I was predominately concerned with the retail and digital marketing aspects of the business, and by the end of the six weeks, I was an expert in these fields! I enhanced my knowledge of marketing and had the opportunity to implement ideas and concepts that I had learned in college to a real life business. I worked with programs such as Buzzstream, Blogger and Feedburner which gave me a practical insight into the demands of digital marketing. I was also tasked with writing a daily blog on Shopify to enhance the authenticity of the business, promote the business on numerous virtual platforms and to increase domain authority. My daily tasks included general customer service and retail duties, including dealing with clients, processing orders and refunds and keeping the store in order, whilst updating social media with interesting Irish related articles to engage potential customers. I also had the privilege of sitting in on business meetings which gave me an understanding and broad insight into the functions carried out by the other departments and the business as a whole.

However, it wasn’t all work and no play as my host family, Mary and Ward Gahan went out of their way to accommodate and coordinate activities that allowed me to experience all the benefits Midwestern life has to offer. Luckily for me, Ward is a Tipperary man, meaning Irish accents were the majority in the house and GAA Sundays were a guarantee every week! I was fortunate enough to visit many iconic and notable destinations throughout my time in the States, including Chicago, Washington D.C., Cedar Point theme park in Ohio and Notre Dame University to name a few. I really appreciate the kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness that the Gahan family showed me, they treated me like their daughter, which I will never forget and added to the internship experience as a whole.

Overall, I had a fantastic experience with both my internship and my host family. The whole Summer, including both Habitat for Humanity and my internship has been an unforgettable experience with unforgettable people. I am forever indebted to Project Children for granting me this opportunity. I will carry the skills I have gained forward to the next chapter of my educational and business life.

Samantha Gault - United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica area and Limelight Event Company, Utica, New York

Samantha Gault student at Liverpool Hope University, studying Psychology, interned at United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica area and Limelight Event Company, Utica, New York.

After a week in Alabama, living with 30 other people in such a small space, I arrived at my host families home and it was bigger than any house I had ever seen. Over the next few days I would learn that bigger than their home, was their hearts. They looked after me, made me feel right at home and treated me like they had known me their whole life. Nothing was too much for them to do for me, and when they weren't making me laugh uncontrollably they were showing me what hard work and success looked like. I was fortunate to spend one day a week interning for Jackie Romano at Limelight Event Company, and the rest of the time at United Way. Both of these companies taught me a lot about myself and my career plans. I got to work with my host Mom at her event company, helping to organise and run various events, build a database of connections and help design leaflets for the company. I got to go to meetings and learn how to run a successful event. As well as working every Monday I got to attend events in the evenings and weekends and got to be a part of the small team that makes Limelight such a success.

I then got to work at United away doing event management and a lot of community work. I was welcomed with open arms and instantly felt part of the team. I got to organise and supervise volunteers at the weekly Saranac concert, I was able to begin the process for one of their yearly campaigns, putting together some leaflets and a website to inform the public. Within my job I was able to spend time in each department, learning about finance and campaigns, I also was able to sit in on interviews, go to meetings and attend conferences. I got to network with psychologists and social workers, and talk to all of the professionals within the career path I would like to pursue. The most enjoyable part of this internship was helping the community, not only did I get to do the back work off the facts and figures and how to move forward in Utica, I got to go and fix murals that had graffiti on, go on the radio and be a part of live webcasts. It was a very active summer, I got to both work hard at something I enjoyed as well as do lots of other fun stuff. I got to go to Niagara Falls and Ocean City. I was able to volunteer for one of America’s biggest road races, amongst some other amazing things and I got to do all of this surrounded by some of the funniest, most caring people I have ever met.

When they tell you your time in America will fly by, they aren’t joking, and when they say you will have the summer of your life believe them. Not only did I get experience in my field of study, I made friends for life and made memories worth gold. I would like to thank Denis, for being the humblest man I know and looking after us, all of the Area co-ordinators, especially Pat Costello, for being so dedicated to making this programme such a success, the four other interns and their families from Syracuse, thanks for an amazing summer. And last but not least my host family, the Romano’s, I will never forget what you have done for me you’re all amazing and no words will ever thank you enough.

Saoirse McKinney - The Aisling Irish Cultural Centre, New York

Saoirse McKinney student at St Mary’s University College, Belfast, studying Primary Education, interned at The Aisling Irish Cultural Centre, The Bronx, New York.

Project Children has been the most amazing experience, beginning with the week spent in Alabama helping build homes for Habitat for Humanity! We had all just met one another, we were jet lagged and already not able to deal with the forty degree heat, and yet somehow, we were able to work with one another on three different homes in Tuscaloosa. We were doing tasks we never expected we would be able to do such as putting down wooden floors, fitting kitchen cabinets and doorframes. It was so rewarding to attend dedication of a home to the new owner and it reminded us of how important the work that we were doing was to the local community. We had the opportunity to get to know one another as well as get to know the Project Children team who travelled with us, including Denis Mulcahy. We heard some amazing stories of the work that they have done over the years for thousands of children and students from Ireland.

When I arrived in the Bronx the next week in order to start my internship in the Aisling Irish Community Centre on McLean Avenue, I felt at home straight away. The Irish community there is amazing in the way that they support one another and keep the Irish culture alive for the next generation. I was surprised to meet so many people from home who I would meet on the streets around Woodlawn- it really is a small world! The Aisling Centre is a wonderful centre which supports people looking for accommodation, jobs and plays a huge role in mental health support in the community. I was blessed to be able to meet the senior group several times during the week. It was amazing to hear their stories of life in Ireland and of immigration to New York. They gave me advice and support throughout the six weeks. The summer camp was a wonderful experience, working alongside Aoife and Sharon. We had great fun teaching the local children about their Irish heritage through song, story, music and drama. It was great to gain more experience working with children and I learned a lot from the two other teachers. I also had the opportunity to assist with the feeding of the homeless. It was humbling to play a small role in helping so many people with nothing in New York City. The team at the Aisling Centre truly made my experience unforgettable. I felt a part of the centre immediately and they could not have done enough to help me and make sure that I enjoying my internship.

A special thank you to Clara Heggarty who I stayed with- it was great staying with you and getting to know you. Thank you to everyone involved in Project Children, especially everyone up in Greenwood Lake. Without Denis, I would not have had this opportunity to spend an incredible summer working and travelling in New York!

Sharon O'Sullivan - Turning Stone Resort and Casino, New York

Sharon O’Sullivan a Graduate from University College Cork, studied Commerce (international) with French, interned at Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Verona, New York.

Upon arriving in Syracuse airport after our week working for Habitat for Humanity in Alabama, I was excited to embark on the next stage of the programme. I interned at Turning Stone Resort and Casino which is owned by the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York. It is a large organisation, with over 4500 employees, and was an exceptional environment in which to learn and expand my work experiences. I was rotated around three departments. In accounts payable I entered invoice data, did statement reconciliations and did filing amongst other tasks - I was given great responsibility and was kept very busy. In the events department I worked on events such as the RV One show, and assisted in preparing showgirls. I learnt exactly how events were planned and implemented within the Casino, and got a fantastic insight into the events sector. Finally I worked in the spa and fitness centre, where I gained invaluable experience within the hospitality sector. The internship was extremely interesting, and I am positive that it will aid me in my future career. My managers and co-workers were very warm and helpful, and gave me every opportunity to learn.

Project children would not be what it is today without the host families, and I had the opportunity to stay in two extremely kind, welcoming and accommodating households. Pete, Emma and I firstly stayed with Brian and Theresa Matt who live near Sylvan Beach right on the lake. I then stayed with Georgette and Kevin Crawford who live nearby, also by the lakeside. I had such great experiences with both families such as boating, visiting a water park in Old Forge, block parties, trying traditional American games like Cornhole, kayaking, visiting the huge nearby mall (Destiny USA), sitting around the fire by the lake in the evenings and even trying shooting - the list goes on! The other host families in the area were also extremely generous to us, and even took us on a trip to Niagara Falls. Our coordinator Pat Costello could never do enough to help us, and I am extremely grateful to him, the families, Turning Stone, and Project Children for allowing me to have this unforgettable and life-changing experience – I will definitely return to America in the future and would like to work there again some day - hopefully sooner rather than later!