Class of 2017
Aisling McCarthy - Reach Rehab Chiropratic, Michigan
The first week spent in Alabama volunteering for Habitat for Humanity was one of the most rewarding weeks of my 2017 summer. Initially I had no idea what to expect; I had never volunteered with Habitat for Humanity before, I had never been to Alabama, I had never spent time with the other 22 Irish interns before, I had never roofed a house before, I had zero construction skills. The list goes on. The only thing I knew for sure was that making the world a better place whether on an individual or global level is something that I want to do with my life. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and that’s exactly what I was doing flying six and a half thousand miles from Dublin, Ireland to Tuscaloosa, Alabama with a group of strangers. Those strangers became my close friends during the intense week of construction under the 30 degree Celsius Alabama sun. I can compare Alabama to my home in Ireland in many ways. Alabama has a sense of community and it is filled with selfless people who want to help those who cannot help themselves. The group of interns I flew with and our American friends that we met over there made the trip what it was. The week was filled with early mornings, learning of new life skills, sharing of stories, good food, campfires, sunshine, trips to Walmart and lots laughter. I don’t think I could do it justice on paper describing my trip to Alabama, so I encourage others to experience it for themselves. As my new American friend Ritchie said, “Don’t walk away from a challenge, always push forward”.
Third Year Medical Student Studying at Queen’s University Belfast - MB BCH BAO HONOURS MEDICINE
Interning with Dr. Burr at Reach Rehab and Chiropractic Performance Clinic has been a beneficial experience not only for my professional self but also on a personal level. I have been observing Dr Burr interacting with patients for over a month and seeing how he runs his private healthcare practice. Unsurprisingly, it has been a lot more than cracking backs. I was involved in meeting American patients, as well as consulted on the hypothesis and diagnosis of their care. It is clear when a doctor has a passion for what he or she is doing, and when there is a genuine care for the patients. Dr. Burr is the epitome of good medical practice.
Having studied the musculoskeletal system and anatomy of the human body for the last two years I came to Dr. Burr’s clinic with a sound background of medical knowledge. Initially I was unsure of what to expect – I had never had a reason to visit a chiropractor back at home. I had the pleasure of observing the professional but personal rapport that Dr. Burr has for patients who come to him in pain. Dr Burr got the job done yet always found the time to ask about how his patient’s family were doing or even simply how their weekend was. He showed me that keeping a relaxed atmosphere is critical when a patient presents with debilitating neck, shoulder, arm, elbow, hand, hip, knee, leg or foot pain. I was in awe of Dr. Burr’s ability to empower his patients, and how he is able to help them to help themselves. He spoke to his patients at a level they could understand, no medical jargon was to be heard of. I realised the importance of getting creative and using different resources to communicate with your patients. I observed the professional practice that has been preached to us as essential by the medical school for being a good doctor.
Dr. Burr’s endless amount of analogies never failed to amaze me. He is able to adapt his style of treatment depending on the type of personality of the client that walked through his door– and there were many! I appreciated Dr. Burr checking in with me every so often to answer any questions that I had and to explain why he was going down a particular route of treatment. No two patients, their stories or their recommended treatment were the same, and I look forward to this variability when I graduate and begin my medical career as a physician in three years time. In September 2017 I begin full time clinical training in the various medical specialities and I look forward to comparing my 2017 summer’s experience in a private business with the care that we provide in our social National Health Service.
Beyond the healthcare aspect of my internship, I came to realise that providing the care is only half the battle when you also own the business. I had the opportunity to learn about marketing strategies, the importance of link building, and how you can even have “business meetings” at a bar on a Friday night when you are the boss. On a serious note one of my long-term goals is to own my own health care practice in the United States of America, and it was an invaluable experience to see how much dedication and work it takes.
Throughout my summer in America I have been meeting and networking with an incredible number of people, and the friendliness and willingness to help a foreign Irish medical student was heart warming. My ability to network and the kindness of my new American family allowed me access to observe and scrub in on the weekly autopsy morning at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office. This was an experience that is not currently on the medical curriculum at Queen’s University Belfast and I felt a deep privilege. I had the pleasure to meet family members and friends of friends of friends that I came in contact with. It will be a summer I will never forget.
I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that made my summer what it was. My American friends and “family” will always have a home in Ireland. Tim and Kitty Higgins opened their home to me and showed me American life. I had the opportunity to visit wineries, breweries, theme parks, art fairs, shopping malls, a baseball game, Chicago and other states outside of Michigan, and meet with the Irish community in Michigan. I was welcomed into Tim’s Rotary Volunteer club meetings, where I heard from speakers who volunteer in charities to help young girls who are being trafficked. Another speaker for a charity called Blessings in a Bag BIAB described how they volunteer to pack lunches for children in schools that come from families that can’t afford it and are hungry. Listening to these volunteers talk about the impact they are making has lit a fire inside of me. The beauty of the situation is that once the mind has been moulded by a new experience it cannot return to it’s original form. This summer I have grew professionally, personally and spiritually and I cannot thank the Project Children Intern Organisation enough for providing the opportunity for this to happen.
Andrew McFadden - Congressman Peter King, New York
On our second day in Alabama, we were invited to an outdoor reception by the Hon. Judge Scott Kugler of the U.S Federal District Court. This proved to be a great evening, and the hospitality which we enjoyed was incomparable. The lakeside setting was picturesque, and in addition to the fantastic food and a real taste of the American South, we were able to make the most of the speedboats, kayaks or in some cases, be rescued by pick up trucks! All in all, we were made to feel incredibly welcome, and the hospitality we received no doubt inspired us to give something back to the Tuscaloosa community during the week which followed.
I spent the majority of my time in the USA interning at the District Office of Rep. Peter King, a hugely prominent Irish American attorney and politician, and a key figure within the Irish peace process. The internship proved invaluable in certain regards, notably as it allowed me to gain a solid understanding of US politics, something which I had previously struggled to grasp. Furthermore, the staff at Pete's office were very accommodating in terms of allowing me attend Court and gain a legal as well as political understanding of the USA.
Outside of work, both my housemate Gavin and I had a fantastic time exploring New York and Washington D.C, whether alone, with the other interns, or with our host. We were extremely fortunate to be placed with Vinny McGreevy, one of the most hospitable people I have ever met. Vinny went out of his way on a daily basis to make our time in the USA amazing. In addition, the support of Tom, Jo-Jo and Ray, our area coordinators, was invaluable.
Anna McLaughlin - Turning Stone Resort, New York
Arriving in Tuscaloosa, Alabama we would have never expected how much we would do and how much fun we would have. When we first arrived, we settled in to camp and went to Walmart to buy some essentials. On Sunday we went to a BBQ right on the lake which involved boat trips, watersports and fabulous food. Monday was our first day at the building site, the group was divided into 2 groups both working on rehabs; one group was roofing a house and the other was painting another house. I was in the group that roofed the house. On our first day we spent the day assembling scaffolding and removing the old shingles off the roof. We spent the next few days removing the shingles and replacing parts of the roof that had rotted away. Our next step was to put down ‘elephant paper’ on top of the wood to ensure that it was waterproof.
We had camp fires most nights at the camp after work. On Tuesday after work we went to the University of Alabama’s swimming pool and on Thursday after work we had a tour around the University of Alabama Stadium. On Thursday we also went to a showing of the documentary ‘How to Defuse a Bomb: The Project Children Story’. This was great as we all were reminded about how important the programme was and it was great to hear Denis talk about it at the end, we finished off the night by going to the InnisFree – an Irish Bar.
Throughout the week it was so rewarding to see the progress of the roof, everyday we finished another part of the roof. On Wednesday we started to put the new shingles up onto the roof. This was really fun as we got to use the nail guns and worked in smaller groups to ensure that we would complete the roof before our last day. The house we were working was owned by a woman called Patricia, she was great craic and loved having us in to chat. She even made all the interns and workers lunch on our second last day. The week was so much fun and a brilliant way for all the interns and coordinators to meet and get to know each other and was definitely a highlight of my trip.
I spent my 6 week summer work programme at The Turning Stone Resort & Casino in upstate NY. This is owned by the Onedia Indian Nation and is based on 17,000 acres of land. We spent the first 2 days of the internship in orientation and that was a great way to learn about the Nation. We spent the first day at their culture centre and learned about the history of the 3 tribes and then we spent the second day learning about their mission statements.
My first week was spent with the marketing and graphic design department. I spent the week sitting with all the designers and helping them think of concepts for their designs and learning new skills on Photoshop. I also attended a photoshoot for a new restaurant opening at the casino called Noodle Noodle.
The next 2 weeks of my internship were spent in Events & Player Development. This was so fun as the events team work at a fast pace and had lots of events for us to help out at. Zoe and I worked at the 24th anniversary dinner and weekend, gift giveaways and the Baseball Hall of Fame weekend. We learned a lot about how the Player Development team used analytics to target certain users.
My last 2 weeks of my internship was spent in Nightlife and Promotions. This involved me working closely with the nightlife promoters in thinking of new ideas for events, working on their social media and booking entertainers. I was really interested in their social media so I was asked to put together an interactive report of their social media analytics and the spending.
We lived with Tony and Carol Mandour in New Hartford and they were so generous. They took us on a hike to Bald Mountain in the Adirondacks and let us explore the surrounding cities. We also spent a week with Romano’s and their intern Brendan, they also ensured we had the best experience while we were here and took us to concerts and the Boilermaker. We also worked at the Great Irish American Festival which was so much fun.
This summer has been a once in a lifetime opportunity, I have been able to experience 3 different areas of a massive organisation and develop my interpersonal skills. But it has also allowed me to make new friends for all over Ireland and network with individuals I would have never met otherwise.
Brendan O’Grady - The Fountainhead Group , New York
On the afternoon of the Saturday we flew into Birmingham airport. Between the tiredness from travelling halfway across the world the day before and with everyone still getting to know each other I remember the journey from the airport in Birmingham to the YMCA camp in Tuscaloosa being a very quiet one. After what felt like hours of driving through the Alabama countryside we arrived at the camp. Everybody got settled in quickly, claiming their bunk and power socket. We ended up going to Walmart that evening to get some supplies; snacks, sunscreen, toothpaste, sunscreen, bug spray and even more sun cream. We knew we would be in for a week of torture from the sun and bugs. On the Sunday we introduced ourselves to the whole group and we met Peter Salemme for the first time and listened to his story of coming to work with Habitat for Humanity. I think this inspired a lot of us for the coming week to go to work each day and put in the effort to get the results at the end of the week. Each day we would wake at 5 a.m. and have breakfast prepared by Maureen and JoJo, the two of them pretty much kept us all going for the whole week with breakfast lunch and dinner, every day adding some bit of variety to our meals. Work was tough but rewarding; we were split into two groups, the roofing crew and the painting crew. We would spend hours upon hours out in the baking sun painting walls, tearing up old shingles, fitting window borders and reroofing the house. Working with Habitat for Humanity was a chance to really make an effort to change somebody's life; it never felt like a chore to get up in the morning, put in an eight hour day and come home to the camp, sore and sweaty. Before we started the week we were told that the time spent in Alabama has always been the best experience for every group that has come through this programme; once we heard that, I think we all looked at each other and thought “yeah right!” but honestly it is safe to say that the week building houses and getting to know everybody that we traveled to America with for the summer truly was the highlight of my time here. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to volunteer for such an excellent organization in a part of the world that I probably would never have thought to travel to if it were not for Project Children, and I am very grateful for that. ROLL TIDE Y’ALL!
For my internship I was working with The Fountainhead Group, Inc. in Utica, New York. During my time I got the opportunity to work with engineers on projects involving an insect repellent product that they make at the company. My work involved research, testing, taking measurement, recording results and graphing data. I worked both as a group with the other engineers and on my own as we tried to find solutions to issues the company was having with product development. My time with the company was very successful and I feel that I have learned a lot from spending my summer there. While on my internship, I lived with the Romano’s, the owners of The Fountainhead Group. To say that this family was fun to live with is an understatement. I got the chance to go jet skiing, watched the 4th of July fireworks at a private golf club, went to an endless amount of events and concerts including a Kings of Leon concert and met many interesting people along the way. I couldn’t imagine being with a better host family than the Romano’s and I am very grateful to them for putting me up in their beautiful home for the summer.
Cathal McVeigh - Michael Stapleton Associates, New York
So its day four on site and we are nearing completion of the roof. Everything is now water tight and we just need to make one last push tomorrow to get things wrapped up. Who would have thought, at the start of the week that we would have made such a good job of it? I don’t think any of us had any previous roofing experience, yet, with a little guidance from Brian from Habitat, we have been able to completely strip the entire roof, replace rafters, change the pitch of the roof and re felt it in just a week. I felt a real sense of accomplishment standing back and looking at the front of the house when it was finished and the scaffolding had been taken down. Also, I think I may have been the only one not to stand on a nail. That was the biggest accomplishment! Turns out cheap Walmart trainers are the best footwear for the job!
Cathal Mc Veigh, student at Ulster University, studying Business Economics with Marketing, Interned at MSA Security, Manhattan, New York.
My internship was at MSA security New York. I was placed within the finance department at their headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Located just around the corner from the site of the World Trade Centre and close to Wall Street, I felt that I was really at the heart of a bustling metropolitan area.
My colleagues in the finance department where very welcoming and made me feel that I was part of the team. The first few tasks I was asked to carry out were quite simple and I was able to complete these in a short time. I was keen to show the team that I was competent enough to complete work that would be useful within the department and I was soon charged with assignments that were a little more taxing. I loved that the work was varied as I often had several different projects to work on simultaneously. Some of the work I carried out involved processing employee checks and reconciling expenses. I processed purchase orders and invoices, billed clients and processed their payments. I created monthly reports for the each of the department heads and updated the company’s fixed asset records for their annual tax audit. These tasks allowed me to develop many practical skills that will no doubt be very useful to me in my future career.
Often I felt challenged but welcomed the opportunity to learn. For example, I was asked to analyse the selection of investment funds that the company currently offers to their employees, as opportunities for investment of their 401k retirement fund. Despite having little experience in investment banking I was able to recommend a number of alternative funds which were outperforming some in their current portfolio. I identified funds that would offer a greater potential for return whilst maintaining the current cost level and reducing the risk.
The internship at MSA has offered me an opportunity to gain real world experience with accounting practices and develop my skills with a number of software packages. I have networked with like minded individuals and could envisage doing the job as a permanent role which made MSA a perfect internship position.
Christopher Kenny - Biddy Murphy Celtic Goods, Michigan
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”
A simple yet accurate quote by famous figure Winnie the Pooh, and this was definitely the case on Saturday 1st of July when I stood in floods of tears having to bid farewell to my friends and fellow interns in Detroit International Airport. If you had told me a week previous that I was going to feel this way about perfect strangers I would’ve laughed and rolled my eyes in disbelief, but during that week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama we all grew so close and created such fun memories that forged great friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime.
Being thrown into the outskirts of nowhere in Alabama, in a camp site with no internet or connection to the outside world forced us to spend time with each other, feeling like a 1950s family sat round playing games such as Monopoly or Jenga! When put to work on Monday morning, we all had something in common – none of us really knew what we were doing!! This forced us all to work together and support each other to ensure we got the task at hand complete. Throughout the week we all got to know each other - Evenings were spent sitting around campfires singing songs and eating s’mores, while we chatted about everything and anything. Not having our phones was probably a blessing as it increased our bond and we realized we didn’t really need them!
Leaving Alabama was a tough step for everyone as we said our goodbyes, but we all kept in contact throughout our internships until we met again in New York, and I’m sure we will all keep in contact for many years to come. Project Children and Habitat gave us the chance to bond like a family 6000 km across the water while creating some incredible memories, and for that we are all truly grateful!
Christopher Kenny a student at Ulster University, studying Business, Interned at Biddy Murphy Irish Gifts, South Haven 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 tasked with retail and digital marketing aspects of the business, including store merchandising, customer service and creating online content, along with a few marketing projects. The internship allowed me to put the marketing theory I had learned during my degree into practice in a real- life business environment. The internship allowed me to go behind the scenes of an online retailer with the help of new programs such as Basecamp, Channel Advisor and Google Suites. Along with my daily tasks I also wrote a blog about my time in America and the experiences I had, which was a big draw on their website. The team at Biddy Murphy was extremely pleasant and welcoming, always keen to help with any queries I had, ensuring I got the most out of my internship.
While interning in South Haven I stayed with the owners of Biddy Murphy, Mary and Ward Gahan, who were extremely hospitable and for that I am very grateful. Their beautiful home is located right on Lake Michigan so I was able to enjoy the beach and water in my free time, along with gorgeous sunrises and sunsets daily.
Throughout my stay I had the opportunity to travel with other interns to Chicago, Cedar Point theme park in Ohio and Detroit while also exploring the beautiful lake-side towns near to South Haven with my host family. I am forever grateful to Project Children for affording me the opportunity to travel to America and enjoy this wonderful experience while meeting some amazing people that I can now call close friends.
Christopher McMenamy - Superior Court Hon. David P. Sullivan, New York
After 4 days of hard work in humid conditions in Tuscaloosa, the final day of our week of work with Habitat was upon us. On Thursday evening, after a viewing of the excellent documentary about the Project at Capstone Church, we walked round to The Innisfree Pub, a very hospitable Irish bar on University Boulevard where we all met up with some of the volunteers from Habitat for a few drinks and a chance to get to know each other on a personal level. After a great evening, we then returned to camp for some well earned rest ahead of the final day of the two projects we had been working on.
On Friday morning we added the finishing touches to both houses and prepared to dedicate the site at the Wells-Swain Center for Ms Zelpha Wells, a remarkable lady who has offered free piano lessons to the children of Tuscaloosa for over 50 years. At the dedication many local luminaries, representatives and members of the Wells family spoke along with our esteemed chairman Denis Mulcahy who thanked both the Wells family and Habitat for Humanity for allowing us all the opportunity to give back and learn what I certainly consider to be extremely important skills in terms of home repair and construction. Local news were there to film the dedication and the Wells Foundation's generous donation to Habitat. It was a very special occasion in which Habitat and Project Children shone brightly, further enhancing a glowing reputation in Tuscaloosa for their help to the community, especially those affected by the storm that destroyed homes in 2011 in the area.
Chris McMenamy a student at Queen’s University Belfast, studying Law, interned at The Supreme Court of Nassau County, Long Island.
For my internship, I was placed with Judge David Sullivan, a criminal court judge in the Nassau County Supreme Court, part of the State of New York Court system. During my time I was able to witness various different criminal proceedings relating to murder, drug trafficking, sex offences and matrimonial trials. I also had the chance to participate in conferences between the prosecution and defence attorneys regarding the cases they were trying. This invaluable experience allowed me to learn much of the New York justice system and its difference from our own system at home.
As a huge sports fan, I had the opportunity to spectate various sporting events from attending the New York Giants to the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather World Tour event in Brooklyn being a few of the highlights along with days of sightseeing in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
I also had the opportunity to attend an Irish-American Bar Association event in Manhattan where I met attorneys and judges and made priceless contacts that will surely enhance my future career prospects. My hosts Ray and Joanne Gallagher deserve a thank you of gigantic proportions for taking Domhnall, Cathal and myself in for the summer and taking us to Fire Island and a 4th July party to name but a few experiences, their hospitality, advice on how to make the most of our time stateside and their wonderful cooking went a long way to making our time in Long Island so enjoyable.
Ciaran Mohan - Pinnacale Investments , New York
Clodagh Cooke - Employment Horizons, New Jersey
After our long flight and quick sleep in our new home stays we had to all get up very early to leave for Alabama, which was also a very long day we had two flights and an hour car journey we finally arrived at camp in Alabama. Our home for the next week would be at the YMCA Y’s Acres Camp in Tuscaloosa AL, it was a very dull day (not like being from Ireland we weren't use to this) and we seen our little log cabins that would be our home for the first week, it looked like a real classic American summer camp like something out of a film, I was actually thinking to myself what have I got myself into!
It had bunk beds, Boys and Girls dorms, Bathroom which weren't overly the greatest, but we thought it’s a bit of craic and all character building and then there was a Kitchen and dining area. We all had different roles and chores to do in the camp whether you were on kitchen duty or lighting the campfire everyone played their part. It was quite a muggy evening and at first me and the rest of the interns were told it was going to be a hot week and we did end up having a few really great sunny nights.
When we weren’t venturing out to evening activities such as the BBQ, the pool, the lake or Walmart the highlights of the evening included gathering around the campfire and playing card games or silly games or having a singsong. We went from being one big group of random people to being close friends and laughing our heads off within hours, one of my favourite things about camp was the fact that majority of our phones were not working, nor were the straighteners or hair dryers may I add. But without the mobile phones everyone actually communicated and got to know each other. All in all it was an amazing experience, we all bonded and got on well with each other. I think every person that took part gained something from this experience and learned something new about themselves whether it was positive or negative but something that they could develop on.
Clodagh Cooke a student at the University of Ulster studying Community Youth Work degree, interned at Employment Horizons in New Jersey.
Having the opportunity to be part of project children for the past 8 weeks has been an amazing experience. From starting of working in Alabama repairing homes which were affected from natural disasters to interning at Employment Horizons in New Jersey. I gained a lot of experience from my summer work programme. I couldn't have asked for a more positive, enthusiastic and educated team. I learned a lot with working with adults with special needs and I have improved greatly on my communication skills and my ability to transfer knowledge gained across a wide variety of service users. The aim of this organization is to encourage, supervise and motivate all clients to work to the best of their ability, carrying out different tasks and reaching individual goals. This increases their self-esteem and allows them to develop multiple skills in a working environment. My time at Employment Horizons has given me valuable experience which I will be able to apply to my future career within other community groups and staff teams.
Each day brought something different; all the clients had their own personalities, which made them all interesting in their own individual way. Every day in placement I always had a big smile on my face, I felt so appreciated from each client and staff member.
During my stay in New jersey, I had the pleasure to live with Carol Grant, a truly amazing woman, who is so caring, considerate and kind hearted who made me and the other girl Orlaith feel so welcome. Carol treated us like her own daughters and we had many evenings together socialising and simply chilling out with a bowl of ice cream.
On the weekends we were busy at all times, we travelled to New York and got to explore all parts of the city, Jersey shore and Greenwood Lake. Thanks to Project Children and everyone else involved who made it possible for me to have an unforgettable eight weeks in the States- a summer that I will never forget.
Domhnall Boyle - Michael Stapleton Associates, New York
On the third day of Habitat for Humanity, it was another early rise for everyone. There was no time to waste as breakfast was waiting in the ‘Mess Hall’ and within 30 minutes, we were loading the vans and heading off to the building sites. On the house I was working on, water was gathering on a very flat portion of the roof and this needed to be raised to a greater incline. This was done with the help of Barry, Steve, Brendan and Sam.
Maureen Mulcahy, who was extremely generous throughout the week, prepared and brought a lunch to the building site to replenish our energy levels. At the first sight of her car pulling into the driveway, we couldn’t get off the roof quick enough.
As it turned out, this was the hottest day of the week and the heat became almost unbearable on the roof. It had also forecast rain for the next day so there was a rush to complete as much as possible. It was a tough battle but we eventually got the roof prepared for shingling the following day.
I felt working together towards a common goal allowed everyone to bond with each other and as a result, we were becoming quite a tight-knit group. At the end of the day, we met up with the other work crew and we were treated to a swim in a nearby lake to cool down. Dinner was prepared by Maureen and the kitchen staff and this was followed by more socialising around the campfire before heading to bed in preparation for another day.
I found the experience to be extremely rewarding, especially when we got the opportunity to meet the owner of the house we were working on. I would like to thank all the Project Children/Habitat for Humanity coordinators and volunteers for all their hard work throughout the week and for making it such an unforgettable experience.
MSA IT Internship, Manhattan, New York:
After the first week volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, I spent seven weeks interning at MSA Security in Manhattan. During this time, I worked mainly with the technologies AutoIT and SQL to create a registration form for their main SmartTech product. Having studied Database Systems in University, this allowed me to put my knowledge to the test. It is really worthwhile knowing something I worked on will be used by the company.
MSA Security is located in Downtown Manhattan and I would often go sightseeing during lunch or after work. The One World Trade Centre, Brooklyn Bridge and Hudson River are all located within a 10 minute walking radius from the company. My coworkers were extremely kind and supporting throughout my time here and they really made me feel as part of the team.
During my internship, I stayed with Raymond and Jo-Anne Gallagher on Long Island as well as two other interns, Cathal and Chris. Cathal also worked at MSA and we commuted to work together, sometimes getting lost along the way. The journey into Manhattan took an hour each way by train and subway but it was well worth the travelling. During the weekends, we would also meet up with other interns and visit more tourist attractions in the city.
Highlights of my time include Habitat for Humanity, various sports events, getting to see a Broadway musical and visiting all the sights in the city. I would like to thank Raymond and Jo-Anne for your kindness and generosity throughout the seven weeks. You really contributed to a brilliant experience and I have made so many lifelong memories along the way.
Overall, the experience was very rewarding and it has provided me with an invaluable opportunity to enhance my future career prospects. I am privileged to have met so many amazing people during my time and I feel I have made lifelong friendships as a result. I would like to thank Denis Mulcahy and all the Project Children coordinators/volunteers from both the USA and Ireland for making my summer such an unforgettable experience.
Emer Smyth - U.S. Circuit Court, Western Division, Alabama
A college major in music, Mrs Wells became a public school music teacher. In 1975, she left her position and began giving free music lessons to children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who were unable to afford private lessons. Mrs Wells felt that God wanted children to have the opportunity to develop their musical gifts and talents and that music was an experience that everyone should have, especially children. A year later, Zelpha’s Cultural Development Corporation (ZCDC) was founded in Tuscaloosa (Alabama) and continues to enrich the lives of children to this day with the help of Zelda’s daughters as co-founders and small private donations. The ethos behind the corporation is one of faith, citizenship and building character so that wherever her pupils go, they go on to become good people.
During our week at Habitat for Humanity, we had the opportunity to work on Mrs Wells’ house. From painting, to construction, to scaffolding, to plastering, to roofing… we all pulled together from Monday morning until we could present the renovations to Mrs Wells on the Friday. For a lady that has given so much to her community, it was incredibly rewarding to see her smile.
I was incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity of interning with L. Scott Coogler, a U.S. District Judge at the Federal Courthouse in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Throughout my time here, I’ve had an incredible insight into the workings of the American legal system and how it differs to that of the UK and N.I. From the very first week it was hands on, informative and challenging.
There were a few other interns from various universities and we each were given a real case to work on and complete. I was working on a petition for writ of habeas corpus on a capital murder/death row case, which although very complex, was incredibly interesting as we don’t have the death penalty at home. We observed trials, sat in on conferences, learned how to shoot, visited a jail and engaged with FBI agents and criminal defence lawyers.
Over the course of my internship I met some incredible people and new friends. I’d like to thank everyone at Project Children and Habitat for such an incredible opportunity, my host family for welcoming me into their home, the other interns for being the best group, my new friends for showing me the Southern way and everyone at the courthouse who pointed me the right way when I found myself lost in the building several times!
Gavin Gribben - BHC Architects, New York
Arriving in Alabama and moving to the campsite, I thought how the hell will I be fit to deal with this place for a week, but soon for various reasons my attitude changed and by the end of the week I really did not want to leave.During habitat I worked alongside Sam, Brendan and the team on the rehab roofing project. Sam and Brendan were great teachers and both took the time and patience to teach each of us in the group something new. The construction based skills that we learned and picked up from both men over the course of the week will be easily carried and transfer to other walks of life. The Alabama habit for humanity project would not have been successful without the food and meals prepared by Maureen and Jojo, so a special thanks is in order for both ladies. One of the greatest things I am going to take away from habitat is how quickly I got to know new people and develop friendships. Then due to the various demanding activities required on site, these new bonds and relationships were then put to the extreme test. Overall the week in Alabama was challenging filled with its highs and lows, mainly due to the shear amount of manual labour in the excruciating heat, but on the home dedication day to the ‘Piano Lady’ all this effort and involvement into the project just made it so much more rewarding.
My summer with BHC architects was a very hands-on experience where I crammed a lot into a short period of time, the project I was predominantly working on was a residential building in Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York alongside architect Janice kirschenbaum. I was brought up to speed on the project by initially revising some of the detailed Drawings for the looming client meeting which was scheduled a few days after arriving.
During my time I got to create 1:1 models and mock up for client approval, select fixtures and fittings, and generally see all the small workings in a construction project that will eventually come together to form the bigger picture. My site visit to Port Jefferson was a very rewarding experience, being able to walk through the construction site and seeing the many phases of the project and the problems needing resolved, I got the opportunity to helping to develop first hand solutions. It truly was an amazing experience to see the drawings, see the process and then to see the project progressing towards a reality.
During my time in New York I stayed with Vinny and the man honestly was one in a million. Neither Andrew or I could have wanted for a thing during our trip. I honestly can't thank Vinny, Sal, Denis and all the coordinators with project children enough for giving me a fantastic summer, Jammed packed with fun, excitement, and the experience of a lifetime.
Georgia Jackson - Office of the Nassau County Clerk, New Jersey
My internship was based in Long Island, New York, where I worked at the Nassau County Clerk's office. This is the office which deals with public records and court documents. My main duties were to assist the admin department where I worked on a number of different projects throughout the weeks. During my time there I also had the opportunity to work on a project for the accounting department which allowed me to vastly improve my skills on excel. This was particularly useful as my degree was in Business with Accounting and allowed me to use the knowledge I had gained from my degree and also get a feel for what it is like to do accounting in a professional environment.
Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and feel that it will really help to enhance my CV and further my employment opportunities in the future. I am very thankful to the team I worked with for being very welcoming and helping me along the way.
I felt particularly lucky to be living and working so close to the city which allowed me to do a lot of sight-seeing, meeting up with other interns and easy access to other parts of New York. Some of the highlights of my stay were attending Panorama music festival in the city, the McGregor vs Mayweather Press Conference in Brooklyn, Kings of Leon concert at Jones Beach, and a weekend spent at Greenwood Lake.
Helen Byrne - NJ State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, New Jersey
Katherine Devlin - Parjana Distribution, LLC, Michigan
As we arrived in Alabama, we were all initially very shocked - many of us are reliant on our home comforts, mammy's daily cooked dinners and access to WiFi none of which we were evidently going to have in Tuscaloosa. We were thrown in the deep end and told to start swimming - looking back this was the best thing to coordinators could have done for us, I personally believe it helped us settle in quicker and helped us to bond as a team.
The weather in Alabama was fantastic compared to the weather back home – it made everyone have a more positive mindset. I never in my life thought I would get to build and refurbish a house never mind enjoy doing it!
The opportunities that the local community of Tuscaloosa granted us with the past week have been unbelievable, the stadium tour of University of Alabama was brilliant and it was interesting to get to meet everyone at the BBQ that Judge Couglar invited us to at the Yacht Club!
I had the most amazing week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama working alongside the Habitat for Humanity Team! It was both challenging yet rewarding and friendships for life have been made!! It is amazing what a group of 35 people can do when they put their mind to it!
After spending 23 days so far working alongside the dedicated team at Parjana® I have learned so many new skills and further developed skills that I already had! The team at Parjana® is quite small and intimate which helped me feel welcome straight away by every member of staff, I have been able to connect with everyone not only on a professional level but also as friends. Every single person at Parjana has taught me something different and valuable from Lisa (Operations) teaching me Project Management skills and how to do basic administrative tasks, to Ian (Engineering) showing me the visuals behind the actual company to help me get a better understanding! I got the chance to work directly with all four partners in the company who each taught me valuable lessons about the business world and provided funny stories about Parjana and its history so far. I have met many people from the marketing industry while here which has really opened my eyes to the international opportunities that are available after I complete my degree program in Ireland!
In my last 12 days at Parjana® I hope to continue to make a difference to their marketing strategy and meet lots of new people!
While working at Parjana and living with Lisa Marshall I have had the opportunity to submerse myself in the American culture and meet all kinds of people from every walk of life– I have been in seven states so far and I think that is quite impressive for my first trip to the USA.
Laura O’Sullivan - The Waterstone Inn, New York
After another hard day of replacing the roof and painting the house it was time to see what the University of Alabama had to offer. I especially remember the drive through the university, there was so much to see, the massive frat houses and the amazing football fields. The university was so clean and tidy and had vibrant colored flowers everywhere. It’s a lot different to our universities at home that’s for sure! Their football pitch would be the size of our whole university! We all received our passes and proceeded to the pool area. It was extremely hot that day so we could not wait to dive in, the water was amazing, there was ring floats to use and also a basketball ring to shoot into. Within the swimming pool was a big slide we had great fun going up and down it. There was sunbathing chairs where we chilled for awhile too. All in all it was a memorable experience; it was a great chance for us all to bond. Our time was up so we gathered everyone and headed back for camp where we had a dinner I certainly won’t forget! After our long day of work and enjoying ourselves at the pool we were starving, Maureen cooked pulled pork, pasta and we had apple pie for dessert what more could we have asked for. It was amazing !!! After that delicious meal Denis and the lads set up the campfire where we all sat around singing songs and making s’mores. It was then time for us to hit the hay as we were up again early in the morning for another days work. We had an unforgettable day to say the least.
Laura O’Sullivan- Student at Cork Institute of Technology studying Culinary arts, interned at the Waterstone Inn, Greenwood Lake.
After our amazing week in Alabama, our group split up and we all went our separate ways. My next seven weeks was spent living a working with the Mulcahy family in The Waterstone Inn. It really was a home away from home, I looked forward every evening to Miriam’s unbelievable mash and gravy! I cannot speak highly enough of the Mulcahy family, they looked after me so well, I felt like one of their own. My internship involved cooking breakfast for the guests, cleaning the rooms and checking in the guests. I’m studying Culinary Arts in college so working at the inn improved my culinary skills, along with learning the business side of running a bed and breakfast. My evenings consisted of going out on the kayaks and paddle boards on the lake, meeting up with the lads at Sam’s and Una’s or going for walks/cycles around the lake taking in the beautiful scenery. Huge thanks to Una for putting up with me for one and taking us to all the Irish events in the city. Massive thank you to Pat and Denis for making it all happen, I know some day I will return to the lake. An experience I will treasure forever and one I most certainly won’t forget.
Martina Gallagher - Aisling Center, New York
After traveling over 4000 miles, three flights in two days we arrived at the base camp of the habitat site. Having to deal with the humidity, no wifi and being out of our comfort zones there was no choice but to make friends. We had a BBQ on sunday night and it was clear to see that life long friendships had been made. Some of us experiencing the Alabama red neck experience more than others, getting stranded on a boat and having to get a lift back in the back of a pickup truck. As an eventful sunday night drew to a close we were all nervous about the week to come. From a weekend of relaxation and settling into southern life the hard work was now about to start.
On Monday we were all split up into our groups and we set off for Mrs Wells house or as we became to know her the piano ladies house. Miss Well’s gave piano lessons for free to children in the area for over 50 years and now the house has gone into ruins. We had Painters, Caulkers , Carpenters, Scaffolders and Roofers all formerly known as Project Children Interns. Time was against us as and we had to have the house finished by friday for the rededication.
We found Wednesday to be the toughest day the humidity was very hard to deal with, even though the locals were telling us that this weather was mild compared to their normal summer.The final push was on as we had to have all the construction work completed. Everyone was working very hard trying to get all the sites finished in time for friday. At half one on friday everyone tidied up and downed tools the roof was finished on site one and the work was finished at the cabin site. Everyone gathered round miss wells house and the rededication started at two.
It was a week filled with sunburn, bug bites, pasta and building lifelong friendships. Needless to say Standing at the airport in Birmingham there was tears hugs and goodbyes from a group of people who didn't know eachother one week previous. A group of individuals now set off on a summers adventure for 6 weeks as friends.
After spending a grueling week in alabama we were sent our separate ways I was on my way to the Aisling Center. I was shocked when I was walking up the street to hear a kerry accent along with a derry one. From going to Gaelic Park to watch the Ladies Semi Finals matches to pucking about in paddy's field. I will never forget the people that I have met while staying here in woodlawn. From Tayto crisps to Barry's tea bags it was all here on McLean. Being here was just like being at home. It is amazing for such a small country on the west coast of europe to make such a big impact on New York. The Aisling Center is known all over the city for its outstanding work and support that it gives to the Irish people overseas. The Aisling Irish Center is the heart of the irish community in Yonkers and Woodlawn. Providing many services such as helping the hopeless running programs for seniors such as the Young at Heart program while also providing a space for classes such as yoga,computer classes, singing , irish dancing and much more.From the get go I felt I was a very valued member of staff from helping to organise the summer camps in the first two weeks to sitting at the front desk in the latter weeks. I have learned valuable information which I will carry on into later life. I was privileged enough to go into the city and help the homeless with the other regular volunteers. Doing this made me realise how lucky I was to be in America on such a renowned and outstanding program with Project Children.
Orlaigh Bradley - Employment Horizons, New Jersey
We arrived in Alabama Saturday afternoon after a long 2 days of travel between leaving Ireland, arriving in New York and spending the night, leaving New York and catching flights and connecting flights to Alabama, although tired, everybody was excited at what lay ahead this week. The campsite was everything we could have imagined, log cabins to sleep in, toilets and showering blocks, tire swings and camp fires surrounded by trees and nature. When we arrived at camp we all made a dash to the dorms to claim our bunk for the next week and get the beds ready.
Due to the connecting flights and travel routes there were 2 different loads of interns arriving at different times. Once everybody had arrived and got ‘settled’ we headed out to Walmart to get some necessities and stock up for the week.
We then all headed for some dinner in the local diner and spent some time getting to know the other interns and the project children volunteers who we would be spending the next week with.
When we arrived back at camp everybody was busted with jet-lag and tiredness from travelling so not long after arriving back at camp and a few card games it was bed time for most.
I will be forever thankful for the opportunity I had from Project Children to spend the summer in America. Our first week in Alabama allowed us all to bond as a team. We had an incredible week being able to give back to the people in the Tuscaloosa Community whilst having fun and enjoying getting to know the students also on the programme. We worked with Habitat for Humanity restoring houses and fixing up homes that were wrecked by storms and tornados.
After Alabama, I headed to New Jersey along with Clodagh to stay with Carol Grant in Morris Plains. Carol Grant is one of the kindest people you could ever meet. I will be forever grateful for her opening her home for us and welcoming us in. We felt like we were at home the whole time. Carol’s nurturing encouragement and support for us to learn and experience all that America has was motivating for Clodagh and myself.
We headed to work with Carol in Employment Horizons and it was an amazing experience. It’s a non-profit organisation that provides jobs, training and support services for people with disabilities. I had the opportunity to work as part of the production team in the work-shop. Each client is tasked with individual jobs suited to their ability. The staff in Employment horizons were amazing! From our first day after being introduced by Ford and meeting all the production team and the vocational rehabilitation team we felt so welcomed and part of the team. The staff provide so much motivation for the clients as they are inspiring, supportive and encouraging. They want the clients to be the best they can be and it was amazing to work in this environment. Throughout my time in Employment Horizons I had the chance to supervise my own groups of clients in the work-shop. I was given the opportunity to develop my own communication and use my initiative to get over the barriers and situations we faced. I know I am going to greatly miss Employment Horizons and all the staff and clients, but I am forever thankful and grateful for the opportunity I had to work in this organisation and be part of this amazing team.
Project Children has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to experience a summer I will never forget. From the support provided by Paul, Monica etc back in Belfast to the check-ins and visits from coordinators in our areas I felt so supported and encouraged on this trip. Without a doubt this experience has aided me for the future and helped me to cement my own desire to work with people with additional needs and provided me with opportunities I could never have had at home.
Padraig O’Donnell - Sweeney Insurance Agency, New York
The week in Alabama was by far one of the most interesting and rewarding things I’ve done during the programme. A week spent in dead heat with complete strangers repairing and restoring houses for people I’ve never met, I don’t know if I’ll ever get that experience again. But it was unbelievable worthwhile and gave all of us a sense of responsibility and camaraderie. On the Tuesday morning, we rose at what was fast becoming our normal waking hour of seven, had breakfast and left for our site actually knowing this morning what we were doing and getting into losing the sense of uncertainty surrounding the previous day's van ride to our sites. On the roofing site which was where I was working I noticed that we had improved even from the first day. We had established a system and able to work with a certain degree of independence, saving us asking the habitat people for constant directions and help. I also noticed that amongst ourselves where developing a bond and helping each other out on the site. We were becoming for familiar and comfortable around each other and getting to know everyone. the work was by no means easy but it was good fun and good experience for all of us involved. I don’t believe any of us could deny that once we settled down into the work we became very productive and we all left in the Tuesday from the worksites with a feeling we had accomplished something worthwhile.
My name is Padraig O’Donnell and I’m studying English and History in University College Cork. My internship was with the Windermere Agency in Greenwood Lake in New York.
The Project Intern Programme has left me with a great deal. A sense of Independence, Knowing I was able to survive a summer in the United States. A sense of pride in myself for working with Habitat for Humanity for a week. A sense of accomplishment, from my internship at the Windermere Agency. The Agency is run by Mr Kevin Sweeney who has faithfully helped the locals of Greenwood Lake with their Insurance issues and queries for years. He is a well-respected and liked member of the community. I saw first hand the work he accomplished in his steadfast dedication to his customers. In the office, my duties were to help in whatever way I could with the clients, I was also responsible for the transfer of documents from a physical copy to a virtual copy. I spent many hours preparing …. My other duties involve meeting and greeting customer, creating and maintaining an online presence and general office and reception work. I can safely say I was never kept idle anyway It was also my pleasure to assist Mr Sweeney for a few weeks with his radio show. I was very kindly, and undeservedly given the title co-host even though on my first show I believe I spoke less than 20 words. I was assured I got better as the weeks progressed. We interviewed a wide range of people from local activists to hikers on the Appalachian trail. It was an experience in itself and that I found incredibly enjoyable and gave me the opportunity to try something new. Overall I found that working in the office helped me develop communication skills and valuable office experience which will undoubtable come in handy in years to come. I couldn’t be happier with the Project Children Programme and all I’ve taken from it. I know I will return to Ireland a better person for it it’s just an added benefit I had such a great time while over here as well.
Ryan Young - USG Performing Arts, New York
After we finished our first night at habitat we were all very tired and hungry after a hard first day at work. However, it didn’t stop some of us as we went and played a few American sports such as baseball and American football in the field to get us in the American Spirit! After a great meal cooked up by Maureen and Jojo we decided not to leave the site, instead we decided to sit around the campfire and sing camp songs. It was great fun, and since we didn’t know everyone very well at this stage, it was a good opportunity to get to socialise and we all felt more comfortable around each other after it.
Ryan Young a student from Ulster University studying Business with Marketing, interning at USG Performing Arts, Greenwood Lake, New York.
Getting onto the plane in Dublin was a very strange feeling with a lot of mixed emotions, I was very scared as I away from home for a very time and I didn’t really know any of the other interns I was going with. However, I was also very excited to visit America for my first time and was really looking forward to seeing what America had in store for me. The first week in Alabama was a great way for us to get to know all the other interns and all the co-ordinators. My nerves that I first had had all gone and I was just really excited to see all what we were going to do in Alabama. Working with Habitat for the 5 days was very satisfying and gave you a real sense of accomplishment when we finished on the Friday. It was great to give back to the community considering everyone in Alabama were always so nice to us. I was gutted that my great week in Alabama was over but was excited to arrive in New York and spend the next 6 weeks in one of the most renowned places in the world.
When I arrived in Greenwood Lake I met my host family, Sam and Unateresa Gormley, from the first day to the last they couldn’t have been more welcoming to Padraig, Sinead and myself. We all felt so comfortable from day one. I began my internship by monitoring their social Media accounts and creating marketing material for any events that the USG may have had. I then built a website for the Irish American Young Leaders program, the internship gave me a real insight to what it is like to work in the marketing industry and showed me how to use programs I hadn’t used before.
On my down time I was always busy exploring the things that New York had to offer. I went to an Ed Sheeran Concert, watched an American Football game, went to a Waterpark and viewed all of the great sites that NYC is so renowned for. Project Children supplied me with the trip of a lifetime and I would like to thank Sam & Unateresa, all the coordinators and the interns for a trip that I will never forget and I would recommend Project Children to anyone.
Sinead Nix - USG Performing Arts, New York
On the first day working in Alabama, there was no time for jet lag to kick in we were up at the crack of dawn! We all horsed down our breakfast, put on some light clothing and layered ourselves in sunblock and my new best friend bug spray. We all hopped into the vans and set sail for the habitat work site. We got to the first work site there we were introduced to the habitat crew shout out to Peter, Barry and all the rest of the team ye know who ye are. We were then told things to watch out for onsite like no jumping off the scaffolding, running with power tools and hammering our hands to wood they just told us things we wouldn’t know already. Barry then showed how to use the tools correctly and safely. We were then split into two groups, the group I was in stayed on the site where we were and the other group went to another house that habitat was rehabbing. Before the other team left we bowed our heads and prayed. There was no messing around we got straight into the work. Barry picked people that wanted to go up on the roof and root up all the shingles and moved them onto the scaffolding were Padraig and I then moved the shingles from the scaffolding with bushes to the wheelbarrows below where rest of the team had the worst job picking up and deposing these tiny bits of shingles that were everywhere. Working in the heat was tough as it was a big adjustment but we took water breaks when we felt we needed and we all looked out for each other.
After the week spent in Alabama working with habitat for humanity which was one of the most rewarding things I have done, I spent the next seven weeks in Greenwood Lake and I did my Internship with USG Performing Arts, they mainly run the New York and Florida International Rose of Tralee and Irish American young leaders. In my internship, I Designed t-shirts for fusion fighter’s boot camp and logos this was the first time I have got to design something outside of college it was challenging but so rewarding to see what I visualized be greatly appreciated. The work I did with the Rose of Tralee I went with the 2017 New York Rose to Manhattan to Fashion designer Don O'Neill and we picked out dresses for her time at the festival. I also designed posters for events for the Rose and helped organise her going away event. For a week of my internship got to help teach the kids at the local GAA cul camps it was so fun working with the children of St. Brendan's GAA club they were all so ready to learn Gaelic football and hurling and by the end of the week they were nearly running rings around me. I also took part in networking events for Irish American young leaders. Part of the work I did with USG Performing Arts I made promotion videos for the Irish American young leaders. While in greenwood lake I also worked with the Waterstone Inn taking pictures for their website.
The summer I have had and the people I have met I will remember forever. From working with Project Children and Habitat for Humanity I have never experienced so much kindness and generosity and wanting nothing in return. I have learned so much from my internship and take everything I know now and bring it into my practise every day. I can’t thank Project Children enough for this amazing opportunity, I will be forever grateful.
Tomas Boyd - Superior Court Hon. David P. Sullivan, New York
Whilst in Alabama participating in Habitat for Humanity, we were lucky enough to visit the Bryant Denny Stadium for a guided tour. The most interesting aspect I found in relation to the tour was the fact that the the visitors' locker room was officially named "The Fail Room", after James M. Fail. The tour guide had no difficulty in telling us the famous quote from Fail. Commenting once when he saw the visitors' locker room, he felt that “it was the most appropriate opportunity I would ever have to use my name."
Walking through the 101,821 seats within the stadium will always be extremely memorable for me, although I always concurred with the thought within my mind that it was "no Croke Park”. However, that will never take away the fact the this stadium happens to be the fourth-largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference, the seventh largest stadium in the United States and the eighth largest stadium in the world. The presidential skybox was also an extremely interesting aspect of the tour, allowing me and the other interns to experience what it would be like to be watching a game in one of the greatest areas within the stadium.
Interning with both Hon. McDonald and Hon. Sullivan in the Nassau County Supreme Court of New York this summer has been enjoyable and an unforgettable experience. It would be an understatement to say that, through the judges collective efforts in involving me in their courtrooms in an inclusive manner, alongside their efforts guiding me through specific differences and nuances within American Law as opposed to the law back home, both judges and their staff have provided me with an opportunity to develop countless skills that I can honestly state I didn't have prior to taking part in Project Children.
Whilst interning with both judges during my time in New York, I had the opportunity to observe a large variety of trails, sentences, hearings, pleas, and also jury selections. These observations proved to be extremely useful as it enabled me to familiarise myself with different components of New York State legislation and also gave me the opportunity to form my own opinions on the specific proceedings and cases, which I would then later discuss with both judges and attorneys. Hon. Sullivan specialises in a diversion course involving drugs, whilst Hon. McDonald specialises in other aspects of criminal law such as sexual offences, assaults, manslaughter, and murder. Participating in conferences in both of the judge's chambers was immensely educational, enabling me to become more involved and informed with the cases at hand. It also helped me develop networking skills with many of the prosecution and defence attorneys that came through the chambers every day.
Getting the opportunity to see Manhattan was nothing more than an experience within itself. At times, I found myself absolutely lost just taking everything in whilst in the city. Everything about it was exhilarating. Staying with Jeff and Maureen Clark made me feel like I had never stepped foot out of Ireland, bringing me to different Irish cultural events and doing everything they could to ensure I was enjoying my summer 1,000 miles away from home. The past eight weeks have been nothing more than unforgettable and they have provided me with an experience that any university student growing up in West Belfast could ever dream of. During this time I’ve met some immensely committed and humble people within both the Courts and also within Project Children, all whom deserve endless credit for the work they carry out, be that in America or in Ireland itself. Working in the Nassau County Supreme Court of New York has brought home with me a massive platform of experience that will further help my employability back here in Ireland, and I would just like to personally thank all those involved for an experience I will never forget.
Zoe Riddles - Turning Stone Resort, New York
Jojo , Al and Rodger, met Us at the airport and we stayed at Rodgers house with his wife Diane and sons Ryan and Patrick and their daughter Erin they were so nice. Once we got our bags at their house we went to Joanne's where we met the others and we had pizza and beer for a while then we went home and had a good night's sleep. Early morning tomorrow alarm set for 7 o'clock to go to the airport for Alabama. Diane and Rodger made us a lovely breakfast and we then went to the airport where we got lost, we were dropped off at the wrong terminal and a pilot helped us to find the right one and we got checked in and boarded and as we took off we could see all of New York City from the air! I have a window seat and got amazing pictures of Central Park! Finally got to Alabama where we all came together and worked on 2 projects for habitat for humanity. Our accommodation was up close and personal as we had to sleep in the same room in bunk beds. On our first day on site we got straight down to work, we have a briefing and then got our hard hats and gloves on and got to work stripping the roof and building the scaffolding and clean up the homes of people who could not be more deserving of the help we were giving them and this I think helped us all to bond in the scorching heat making sure we all drank enough water and had plenty of sun cream on. Everyone enjoyed each other's company and made efforts to get to know everyone and not just get to know a few people. At the airport leaving to go on our internships everyone was sad to be leaving each other! The four interns flying to Syracuse flew to Philly where we were delayed for a few hours so it was nice to sit and get to know them a bit better. Myself and Ann stayed with the same host family and this really helped us bond and we will be friends for life as we spent lunch together at worked spent our free time with each other when we had time off. Our internships were broken up into different departments giving us the opportunity to work with as many different people as possible giving us experience in 3 different areas. Our host families were amazing they helped us all stay in as close contact with each other as possible so we got to explore Utica and Syracuse with Brendan's host family took us to a kings of Leon concert as a group and it was one of the highlights of our trip and it was nice to share it with the other interns. As a whole the experience was unforgettable and I have made friends that I will be sad to leave and will keep in contact with once we are home.
At the turning stone in Verona, NY I worked in three departments within the casino. The first week I was there I worked with Finance and accounts payable where I learned how the turning stone was tax exempt as they are a sovereign nation. I then worked in the eve state department for 2 weeks where I got to meet with heads of departments and managers and talk to them about their role within the company in the events sector as well as helping with giveaways for VIP players and showgirls. My final 2 weeks I worked with the HR department firstly going to the recruitment department where I got to assist with interviews, fingerprinting and drug testing which was an interesting experience. The second week in HR I spent time with HRIS and benefits seeing how the data about employees is collected and utilised as well as how the company offers health insurance to their employees for a discounted price and this really made me appreciate our health care system at home. My final few days I spent in training and development where I learnt about adult learning and how they use it to develop training programs. Overall is was an amazing experience seeing how different departments work together.
My host family were so lovely they really made us feel like myself and Anna where their daughters involving us in their family parties and taking us and showing us local places that they enjoyed spending time in like old forge lake. We also went with another host family to two concerts as well as the boiler maker which is a big running race in Utica. We got to experience So much of upstate New York and I had an amazing time.
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!