Class of 2018
Katie McCartney, Criminology and Social Policy student, QUB.
Employment Horizons - New Jersey
My time in Alabama was so fulfilling and enjoyable, not only did I get to help the Habitat for Humanity team transform and rebuild a home which was extremely challenging but I also made life long friends in the process. By the end of this tough week I learnt how to paint and lay flooring into a house but more importantly how amazing the rewards of hard work and dedication feel. I could not have survived the week of 40-degree heat without the amazing people I worked alongside, the craic was always 90, especially our day at the lake and nights by the campfire!
My internship was spent at a non-profit organisation ‘Employment Horizons’, that provides work for disabled individuals and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend my summer. It was such a rewarding experience, every day myself, Méabh and Ita were greeted by the biggest smiles from the clients and I was truly heart broken to leave them behind. Each day we were reminded by the most friendly and welcoming staff members about how much of difference that we were making to the clients lives, even though I felt that they had made a greater impact on me. During my internship I stayed with Carol Grant, who is such a wonderful and generous person. She made us feel so welcome and a part of the family. The Grant family have been hosting Irish interns for nearly 20 years and I feel so blessed to be one of them. I cannot thank Carol enough for her hospitality and this superb summer in USA.
Ita Savage, Law with Politics student, QUB
Employment Horizons - New Jersey
To say that summer 2018 would be an unforgettable one was an understatement. Upon hearing that before the internship myself and the other interns would be required to spend the week in the scorching Alabama heat completing work with habitat for humanity, for a fair skinned Irish redhead, this was quite daunting. I could have never expected what was to follow, not only the enjoyment I got from the work itself, but the lifelong friendships that blossomed and would continue to with the weeks to come. I remember when I first heard one of the locals saying that we were experiencing a heat wave which was the last thing I wanted to hear, luckily however, after starting the work on the site the excitement for the week ahead instantly made me forget. Whilst in Alabama one of the key things that stood out for me was the service we attended on Sunday morning. While my mother has been pressuring me to attend church on Sundays for the past few years and failed miserably, I was eager to experience how other denominations held services particularly in the deep south. Upon arriving to the service at 9am on Sunday morning we were greeted by friendly faces introducing themselves bringing coffee and donuts, it was then that I decided that perhaps this is religion for me! The charismatic pastor had me hooked from the second he began to talk while the singing and enthusiasm from the choir and the worshipers simply added to this already breath-taking service. The only negative I grasped from this experience was the thought of my phone call home breaking the news to my mum that I may be a born again Christian! For the week to follow we were greeted with hospitality from judge Cooglar and his wife, hosting us for a dinner and allowing us to explore his beautiful grounds and home, including his stables. To conclude about our time in Alabama it would be rude not to mention our trips to Wal-Mart, in fact the mere mention of the word sent the group into turmoil. To keep it short, we were like children let loose in a candy store, with us buying either tons of candy and potato chips or cheesy American themed shirts, we got them all!! I would like to thank Project Children for this invaluable trip, but mostly for all the friends I have met along the way whether it be the other Interns, the area-coordinators and volunteers, for making my experience so memorable and special.
Colleen McCleery, BEd Primary with History student, St Mary’s
Experience Ireland Summer Camps, New York
Having already formed strong bonds of friendship over airport games of Jack-Change-It and taking the hand out of each other’s accents, the prospect of spending a week building a house in Alabama with 21 strangers seemed slightly less daunting. It was an adventure from the start, with one half of the group landing early in Alabama after a relaxing flight from La Guardia, and the other half arriving hours later off a plane that sounded like it hadn’t had an MOT since the 1960s. We were eased in gently, with the first 2 days consisting of games of table tennis and exploring the wilderness around us; our only challenges being figuring out how to climb the top bunk without a ladder and how to navigate our way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. On Monday, the real work started as we arrived at Miss Sonia’s house. For many of us, having to assemble our Ikea flat-pack furniture at start of a new University year is a challenge, and so arriving to a building site littered with power tools and 3-story scaffolding was incredibly nerve-wracking. However, with the careful guidance and support of Barry, Brandon and Zach from the Habitat for Humanity Team, we quickly became immersed in our work and were ready to challenge ourselves. To say the work was hard would be an understatement, however the sense of pride and achievement that came with each cupboard installed, each piece of flooring laid down, every window caulked and every wall sided was indescribable. Undoubtedly the most eagerly anticipated moment of the day was lunch-break, where there was a swift sprint across the road to find the best shady spot on the grass to grab one of Gwen’s cheese and turkey toasties and a packet of Oreos. It was then back to work for the rest of the day, with a refueled determination to get as much work done as possible. We were further motivated to push ourselves after talking to Miss Sonia who told us about the hardships of life after Hurricane Sandy and showed us pictures of her house before Habitat for Humanity started their work, both of which made us realize the value of what we were doing. By the time 3pm came at the end of each blisteringly hot day, the promise of an air conditioned mini-bus and a cold shower was heaven to the ears of 22 sweaty, sun-burnt Irish students in the 37 degree heat, with talk of the “heatwave” back home in Ireland now sounding laughable. However, the phrase "all work, no play” certainly did not apply to our trip to Alabama, with our evenings consisting of swims in the river, eagerly anticipated trips to Wal-Mart (while saying hello to our cowboy friend along the way), relaxing around the campfire and a visit to the Innisfree. With such a fun-filled and packed week, our time in Alabama simply flew by. By the end of our 7 days we had so much to show for ourselves: new-found friends, a set of construction skills that we never imagined we could have developed, a greater sense of self-confidence and resilience, an amazing house to present to an amazing woman, and in my case, a bruised finger after some dodgy hammering work. All in all, it was the experience of a life time, and I feel so honored to have been a part of it.
This summer, I was given the amazing opportunity to spend 7 weeks on an internship in Greenwood Lake. Being such a home-bird, the prospect of leaving home for almost 2 months was initially very daunting, however, after talking to previous interns who spoke so fondly of their time in Greenwood Lake, this apprehension soon turned to excitement. I am currently completing a degree in Primary Teaching in St Mary's University College and so my internship involved teaching Irish music, song and dance at the Experience Ireland Summer Camps. This was such a fun and rewarding experience as it was great to see how much the children enjoyed developing new skills and embracing the Irish culture, with the closing concert in the local library proving to be a proud moment in displaying the culmination of the children's hard work over the Summer. On a professional note, this was also such a beneficial experience to me as a student teacher as it really allowed me to grow in confidence and will undoubtedly help me in the rest of my studies. However, while we put a great deal of effort into our work, we were also treated to plenty of day trips and evenings out. I was fortunate enough to be placed with the Gormley family along side 2 other interns; Ailbhe and Rachael. It was like a home away from home, as living with a Tyrone man meant that a plate of spuds and gravy was never too far away (thank God). We made frequent trips into the City, visiting: the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Brooklyn Bridge, the Rockerfeller Centre, the Irish Consulate, the Famine Memorial, Times Square and much more, while even finding time to squeeze in a Broadway show. If we weren't roaming the city or squealing our heads off at the Mountain Creek Water Park; we were swimming at the beach or having fun on the paddleboards and kayaks while taking in the amazing scenery of Greenwood Lake. Our host Una-Teresa is also in charge of the New York Rose of Tralee and so a highlight of the trip was going to Don O'Neill's studio in NYC to help the New York Rose pick out her dresses; an experience I will never forget. All in all, this has honestly been the trip of a lifetime and has given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people who I know will be lifelong friends. I would like to say a massive thank you to the Gormley Family for making us feel so welcome, to our Co-ordinator Denis Mulcahy who was always there to leave us in awe with his amazing stories, and to all of the Project Children Team for giving me such an unforgettable summer.
Anna Monteith, Textiles, Design and Fashion student, UUB.
Aisling Irish Community Center, New York
During my first night in Alabama I had never felt so close to a bunch of strangers in my entire life. It’s safe to say that after our week spent in Tuscaloosa we all became best friends. Without the pals i made there that week would probably have been the toughest i had ever endured due to the melting heat and hard work on the construction site. Yet thanks to the group’s amazing personalities and humour your spirits were never down and your cheeks were always hurting from endless laughter. I’ll never forget the girls that I shared a room with and will continue to keep friendships with them after this amazing journey has ended. It was great fun getting to know everybody in the camp, you’re honestly with these people every minute that it becomes natural and you almost feel like family. We all became so close as you eat, sleep and brush your teeth together but I’d say the inside jokes, a lot of snoring and many awful dance moves were the reasons we bounded so tightly. It felt like we were a bunch of kids at summer camp and I’d give anything to go back. I can’t thank Project Children enough for this experience of a life time and for the friends I’ve made along the way.
I’ve spent my summer Interning at the Aisling Irish Community Centre on McLean avenue in Yonkers and what a summer it has been! I have made so many happy memories and shared amazing moments and none of it would have been possible without the friends I have met working there, from Feeding the homeless in New York City to working with younger children in the Summer Camp. I have met hundreds of lovely people that have walked through the door and shared their stories with me and I will never forget how accommodating everyone has been to me on this incredible journey. I’m having so much fun working with the kids in the summer camp that it doesn’t feel like a job. It has really opened my eyes to a career working with children which I hadn’t seriously considered before. When the opportunity came up to help some of the volunteers in the city hand out sandwiches to the homeless, I didn’t have to think twice about it. I am happy I didn’t as it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I spoke to many of the men and women living on the harsh streets of the city and I could not believe how polite and appreciative they were for a cup of juice and a turkey sandwich. It really opens your eyes and shines a light into another world I hadn’t given enough thought. It sounds cliché but you do change after seeing poverty face to face. You can sit, talk and listen to what these people want to say and they were nothing but positive which was a pleasant surprise. It makes you think of everything we take for granted in everyday life. I would definitely consider working with the homeless again. I have loved my time working in New York with the team at the Aisling centre and will definitely return in the future.
Michael Crowe, Politics, Philosophy and Economics student, QUB.
Congressman Peter King, New York
When we arrived in Birmingham it was clear that most people were oblivious to what the week ahead had in store, whether that be the extremely early starts, blistering heat or the mosquito's. The working day in Alabama started with an early wake up call and a lot of grumpy Irish. The first day on the site was tough, learning about the tools we would have to use and the safety instructions that accompanied them. This resulted in the first day being more of a feeling out process with second day being the first day where real progress was seen, this despite the 37°C plus heat. After a few days of working hard on the construction site in Alabama, the house was really starting to come together and it was starting to sink in why we were putting in all this hard work. The daily visits from miss Sonia, the owner of the house, made the project even more personal, resulting in bolstered efforts from everyone as the week went on. For the majority of the week I was working on the porch, putting up the pillars, building the fencing and painting the area, along with other bits and bobs. The feeling of pride I felt upon seeing the final product was a feeling I’ll remember for a long time, a feeling I’m sure was reciprocated by everyone working on the house. This really sunk in during the blessing of the house and seeing the appreciation miss Sonia felt for all our work. Alabama wasn’t all work either, the lack of internet connectivity forced people to get to know each other to an extent which would seem inconceivable back home. This in conjunction with our trips to the lake, swimming pool and Judge Coogler’s house resulted in friendships being formed quickly leading to a tough but extremely enjoyable week. I would like to that Dennis, Dennis Jr., Al, Brendan, Gwen and Ritchie for putting together a week I'm sure that no one that was there will forget.
Once I returned to New York from Alabama I lived with Vinny McGreevy in Wantagh, Long Island. Vinny couldn’t have been a better host to Conall and me, even taking me and a few of the other interns down to Washington for a weekend. While I will miss Vinny and his dry humour, I will also miss his dogs and cats, however, not their barking at four in the morning. For the six weeks I was in New York I worked at the district office of Congressman Peter King. King, who was a key player in the peace process in Northern Ireland also becoming an extremely influential member of the House of Representatives. This became only too clear due to the fact that he was constantly on local and national news. Work mainly consisted of taking calls from constituents, helping them out with the issues they were having with federal agencies while also taking any concerns that they had. In my time working at his office I was able to receive an in-depth knowledge of American politics, especially in relation to constituency issues, understanding the local dynamics that are in play in American politics. The other staff were also extremely accommodating, constantly buying me their favourite food to try. During the rest of my time in New York, the rest of the interns and I explored the city, even going to football and baseball games. I would like to thank Vinny for being such a great host and Congressman King for giving me the opportunity to work in his office. The time I had in America was a once in a life time experience and id like to thank everyone from project children for giving me this opportunity.
Kathryn Geraghty, Primary Education student, St. Mary’s University College.
University of Colorado, Denver
Our first week in the United States was spent in the hot Alabama sun. We were travelling in a large group yet we were all complete strangers and Alabama changed that. I was initially terrified, not having any sort of idea of what to expect and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. We were told that it was going to be a tough week, the hardest week of our whole experience but despite this, it’ll be the best week and they were right, it was. Stripped back to the basics, our camp had no Wi-Fi, our showers didn’t work properly, we slept in log cabins and the irritating mosquitoes and stifling humid air were frustrating to say the least. Getting up each morning at 6 o’clock wasn’t all that easy either. Being a red head, the sun cream bottle was never far from my hands; in fact, I went through an entire bottle in a week, which is definitely a new record for me. Nevertheless, it was incredible and something I am privileged to have been able to experience. I was able to learn so many new skills such as how to paint a house, varnish cabinets and put down a floor. I learnt how to persevere even though at times, it seemed impossible with the sun beaming down on you. I really discovered the importance of teamwork while in Alabama. I got the chance to build a home with my new friends for life, both catholic and protestant and both north and south of the border for someone who couldn’t have been more deserving and we had an absolute laugh doing it. Some of my favourite memories include the dinnertime chats, the Wal-Mart visits, days by the lake, laughing around the campfire and of course, our big night out in the town. I had the best time in Alabama and feel privileged to have been able to work alongside our team and Habitat for Humanity. It was a week I will never, ever forget.
My six week internship was based in Denver, Colorado. I was given the opportunity to work alongside Professor Jim Walsh in the political science department focusing on the mountainous mining town of Leadville. My challenge was to focus on exploring the miners of Leadville and in particular, exploring many of the people who died there, a great deal of whom were originally from Ireland and whose bodies now lie in the graves in Evergreen Cemetery without any sort of marker to identify them or tell their story. After the famine in Ireland in the 1840’s, many Irish people were forced to flee for a better life and most of them saw this in America. From the research I have been carrying out in the Denver Public Library, many young men came searching for work and they saw Leadville as a town that offered this in abundance. However, many of the Irish people who worked in the mines were often treated poorly, paid very little and heavily discriminated against. They had to survive and work in horrid conditions in the mines, particularly in the winter where it could grow to be as cold as -20 degrees. Many of the Irish people who died in Leadville can be found in the catholic free section of this cemetery. They died young with the average life expectancy found to be around 23 years old Jim has discovered. My research has proven this to be true and I have found records of many children having died at birth or in the months and years following. It is a tragic story and one not told often of what happened to these people. So many people left Ireland with little other choice at this time and simply disappeared without much trace, their families back home never hearing from them again. These Irish immigrants were hard working, persistent and resilient. I visited Leadville and saw the cemetery myself on the 13th of July and it was a day I will never forget. The sunken ground, the silence in the land and the trees that go on for what seems like miles, there is so much history within the cemetery. To think that so many of the graves lie unmarked and unrecognized is truly heart-breaking. The research I have been doing is going towards helping to create a list of names that will go on the memorial in this cemetery to finally have each individual recognised. The memorial will commemorate all those Irish Immigrants who died trying to provide a better life for themselves and for their families. Their story deserves to be told and I am so grateful to have been given an internship with such importance and value that help me to do this. It has been truly incredible learning about these individuals and finally giving them a voice. It has been challenging going through the birth, death, marriage and immigration records for each individual buried there but highly rewarding and worthwhile. I thoroughly enjoyed the work I was involved in during my internship and have met so many fantastic people on my journey here. This internship really evolved to mean more to me than just working in America for 6 weeks. The work I did here will follow me for the rest of my life. I truly feel like I have been able to become involved in something incredible that will remain with me forever and I am so grateful to Anthony, Darlene, Jim, Susan and Eddie for making my internship experience in Colorado one I will hold close to my heart for a long time. Colorado is a truly beautiful place surrounded by the mountains and I can easily say looking back, there is nowhere else I would have rather completed my internship. We have been able to experience so many incredible things such as getting to see a baseball game, going to a rodeo and hiking up an 8, 461 feet mountain, which I am extremely proud of. I can’t say thank you to Denis and thank you to Project Children enough; it’s been an amazing adventure.
Paul Shevlin, History student, QUB.
Molly Brown House and Museum, Denver
There has always been this myth about America being a great-untamed wilderness. We’ve all heard the stories in countless westerns and stories of explorers and pioneers who carried babies on their backs, but I was always more than a bit sceptical. That is until we landed in Alabama. On the flight we saw snippets of what would come in the future, mountains and rivers and great-untamed forests, but it was only when we landed that it all hit me. A cabin on the outskirts of the woods was probably the best place for a city boy like myself to be introduced to nature on an American scale. Near the camp there was a creek and it didn’t take more than 5 steps along any trail to feel like you were somewhere else, in another time, exploring a new continent. A few days after work we went to a river, felt more like a sea to me but everyone called it a river. It was impressive, framed on both sides by mountains that would put the Mourns to shame, wide enough that not even the most reckless joked about swimming to the other side and warm enough that no one flinched from dipping their shoulders under. It was some river. But not all of nature was as enjoyable as this swim. The weather was unpredictable, every night there was rain and every day there was thunder. This wasn’t Irish rain that would chill your bones. You were grateful for this rain; it cooled you down and washed the sweat from you. One night we were sitting on the steps outside, talking about nothing in particular. We saw the sky split into two by lightning, the one flash but a blanket instead of a bolt. So wide we could see nothing else for a second and half thought there was a war in heaven. Quickly retreating back inside we felt thunder in our hearts rather than hearing it. Denver is a city in tune with nature. Hiker, skiers and explorers are not seen as a seen as oddballs here, instead they’re the norm. Anthony, my host has climbed all 53 14,000 feet mountains in Colorado. If you don’t know how high 14,000 feet is, Croagh Patrick is the tallest mountain in Ireland and is only 2,500 feet, so it’s pretty high. I couldn’t leave Colorado without experiencing a hike for myself. We decided to go up Bear Peak, a relatively short, easy climb to ease us into it. Fortunately there were no bears on it so I really shouldn’t have been as worried as I was of running into one, although we did see a few snakes. The hardest part of the climb was the start, telling your body that this is what we’re doing and we’re going to finish it. There was no chance I was giving up even if I did see a grizzly on the path in front of us. After we got into a rhythm things got easier, even if we were being overtaken by joggers, children and dogs. Eventually the tree started to thin and we were left with stunning views of the Rockies and Denver and we happened upon wild raspberry bushes. The berries were small, but I’ve never tasted sweeter. After a little over 2 hours of hiking we reached the summit, expecting the views to be jaw dropping, we were amazed by something else entirely. At that moment clouds began to descend on the summit and we were engulfed. We saw the cloud curve around boulders like they were rocks dropped in a stream and we felt the damp of the cloud on our skin. Still it didn’t take away from the feeling that we had summited a mountain, the adrenaline coursed through me and I simply had to stand on the highest rock. Actually stand in the sky and feel the achievement. The descent was just as challenging and eventful but Bear Peak will not be the last mountain that I climb.
Colm Kelly-Ryan, Law student.
Finance & Development Department, Community Food Share, Colorado
Nervous excitement describes best my feelings at the very beginning, filled with American dreams about the summer ahead. Following flights from New York to Atlanta and on to Birmingham and despite heat and humidity, the atmosphere amongst the Project Children interns was incredible - we bonded quicker than you can say ‘Tuscaloosa’. After settling in at base camp, our first night in Alabama was spent watching the Project Children documentary ‘How to Defuse a Bomb’. Pastor Jeremy opened the doors of his church in Capstone and graciously accommodated us to watch the movie. We learned how Denis Mulcahy and the Gaelic Cultural Society in Greenwood Lake took Protestant and Catholic Children out of Northern Ireland during ‘The Troubles’ and placed them with host families. The movie was perfectly balanced between humour and heartbreak, through the lenses of human stories. The film serves as an honest reflection of a difficult period in history, predominantly in Ulster. Filled with awe and a greater appreciation of Project Children, I returned to camp ready to embrace the challenge of working with Habitat for Humanity in Alabama for the week.
Upon arrival in Denver, we were greeted in the airport by Project Children Colorado coordinator Anthony Massey and my host family, the McCarthy’s. After six weeks of bonding and social activities, I am so thankful to consider them friends and family. They made me feel right at home and I can’t wait to see them in future. Martin Luther King once said that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. While America evokes thoughts of the Manhattan skyline, there is also a great inequality in America. My eyes were widened to this in my internship at the Community Food Share, a non-profit member of Feeding America, which is full of amazing people. My summer was spent fighting hunger and food insecurity in Boulder and Broomfield Counties, working to transform the lives of the most vulnerable. Hunger can be ended in the United States and food shortage isn’t the problem, it’s getting food to those in need that is the issue. The population in our service area of Boulder and Broomfield Counties is roughly 390,000 people. Startlingly, 1 in 8 experience food insecurity: almost 49,000 people in such a small pocket of American and in what is considered a relatively affluent area. I’ve gained experience working with philanthropies, writing grant applications and fundraising. Out of the office, I’ve been able to fight hunger on the frontline by serving on mobile pantries, assisting in the Feeding Families program, engaging in food rescue missions, gleaning in the fields, aiding pensioners in Elder Share and working with partner agencies. A massive thanks to Dina and Michelle for always believing in me and to all of the team at Community Food Share. I can’t imagine what the men, women, elders and children in need in the service area would do without them. Life is like a hike, things can be unstable, challenging and sometimes complicated. At the end, when you stand at 12,000 feet elevation on top of the Rocky Mountains, you realize even if we take different paths, our destination and similarities overcome. The beauty of Project Children is it taught me to accept people of different views, backgrounds and experiences. Thank you to Denis and Pat for this unforgettable summer and your longstanding commitment to peace through breaking down barriers and mutual understanding.
Ciaran Keenan, Business IT student, QUB.
MSA Security, Manhattan, New York
The week spent in Tuscaloosa with all the other interns was one I will never forget. Due to the fact there was no wifi available at the camp, we were all able to bond as a group quite quickly. It was refreshing to be able to get to know everyone without having our heads buried in our phones and social media 24/7. On site with Habitat, I was given the task of working on the porch area of the house with Brendan (a habitat volunteer) and two other interns. It was the first time any of us had ever worked with power tools but with Brendans help we were able to get into the swing of things. By the end of the week we had built and painted the porch. We were all filled with a great sense of achievement and pride when the house was finally presented to the owner. It made all the hard work in the scorching Alabama heat truly worthwhile. Over the course of one week, I managed to learn valuable life lessons, lend a helping hand to those in need and gain lifelong friends. I can safely say it was one of the best and most rewarding experiences I have ever had.
For my internship I was placed in the IT department of MSA security in New York. The firm’s headquarters was situated in lower Manhattan, right next to the World Trade Centre and Brooklyn Bridge. This gave me the opportunity to visit many of the sights and attractions on my lunch break and after work. I was extremely fortunate to be able to experience the hustle and bustle of the city on a daily basis and always took advantage of my time there. In IT I worked on a variety of different projects and tasks each day which kept the job interesting and challenging. In the office, I would assist my colleagues in resolving tickets that were submitted to our helpdesk. These tickets consisted of issues ranging from software installations, software troubleshooting, image deployment, machine building and inventory management. Other duties included the manipulation of databases using sharepoint in order to improve the companies IT support and customer service. I also had the chance to work on jobs out of office in locations such as the Empire State Building, Lincoln Square and various hotels across the city. In these duties I was required to install metal detectors and x-ray machines for movie premieres and security checkpoints. This was an extremely rewarding part of the job and gave me a hands on opportunity to see how the companies SmartTech software worked on site to secure high profile venues.
Sophie McLaughlin, Drama and English student, QUB.
Turning Stone Resort and Casino, New York
Heading onto the bus at Queens Student Union I was definitely nervous about the group of people I would be spending every minute of the next week with, but by the time we all had to split off to our separate gates at Birmingham Airport I didn’t want them to go! Never did I think I could miss a group of people I’d only known for 7 days this much. Starting off our summer with the week in Alabama was honestly the best idea because not only did I get the opportunity to work for such a great cause like Habitat for Humanity but I got to get to know the greatest bunch of people, both interns and coordinators. Being thrown into one big cabin, sharing bunk beds, clothes and trips over to the bathroom block together really made all the girls so much closer and by the end of our trip I felt like I had known them all my life. Working on different projects and areas of the house allowed me to get to know so much about all the other interns because nothing bonds people better than sweating it out in the warmest heat we’d ever experienced. This program has allowed me to meet people from all over Ireland, from different universities and colleges and different countries who I otherwise would have never come across and now couldn’t imagine not knowing. Alabama was one of the most fun weeks I’ve ever had, whether we were playing pool or ping pong in the dining hall or being the only Irish in the Irish bar, we were always laughing and having a good time and it is something that I will never forget. After the absolutely amazing week in Alabama I was sad to be leaving all the people I had met there but was excited to get going in the next stage of my summer.
I flew into Syracuse in Upstate New York to complete my internship with Turning Stone Resort and Casino, a company ran by the Oneida Indian Nation with over 5,000 employees across their three casinos. My internship was with the events department where I worked closely with the events coordinators who were preparing for their 25-year anniversary celebrations. Our first few days were spent in orientation where we made to feel very welcomed and prepared for the upcoming weeks. In our six weeks there we were exposed to a wide range of events and opportunities and prepared for them at various different levels. For the anniversary we were involved in Gimmie Gimmie Gift promotions and employee and VIP events where we were given the chance to organize and distribute gifts, giving me a great opportunity to gain experience in a whole new type of international customer service. In the office we were included in meetings and daily team talks and saw how events develop from initial plans of actions and running orders to the actual event. Turning Stone is not only a casino and resort, but has a showroom and events center, which has many concerts and performers coming through the doors regularly. For these shows we got to work with the performers’ showgirls, getting them ready and helping them with guest interaction, which was an interesting experience far from anything I had done before! This amazing opportunity with Turning Stone would have not been possible without the generosity of my two host families, Julie and Christine Matt and Kevin and Georgette Crawford, and our coordinator Pat. We stayed on Oneida Lake and it was honestly like a world away from life in the Holylands (Holylands is the most common area for student accommodation in Belfast) with daily boat rides, paddle boarding, swimming and chilling on the deck. I’d like to thank Denis and all at Project Children for an amazing summer and the valuable opportunity.
Méabh Doherty, Pharmaceutical Science student, QUB.
Employment Horizons, New Jersey
Employment Horizons is a workshop that provides employment for adults with disabilities that may struggle to find “normal” jobs and also supports those who do find jobs out in their communities. Having had no previous experience working with disabled adults I wasn’t sure what to expect but can honestly say I had an amazing time, as Sharon, one of the supervisors said “they show us how we’re all supposed to live everyday, they live in the moment always laughing with no worries”, and they really did make me smile every day. Ford, the director, threw us into the deep end on the very first week having Katie and I cover for Marge, another supervisor, who was on vacation that week. We hadn’t a clue what we were doing but quickly learnt as the week went on, it can be a lot of pressure but teaches you so much in such a short space of time. It’s taught me how to run a workshop and developed so many of my skills, I’ll miss all the amazing people I met in Employment Horizons but I am so thankful for the experience!
Rachael Loughran, Film & Drama student, QUB.
USGLLC/International The Arts & Sports Division, New York
For my internship, I worked in the marketing and advertising field with my host mother, Unateresa Gormley. As she runs multiple different businesses, I was kept busy every day with the promotion and organising of events. Being from a media and film based education, I was as well as developing new skills at the same time. I learnt more about the business side of companies than I ever deemed possible and found how powerful my skillset was within this industry. I stayed in Greenwood Lake with my host family and two other interns, Ailbhe and Colleen. We also lived across the road from another intern, Kathryn who done everything with us. The village was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and exceeded all of my expectations. If we were bored, we could simply walk less than two minutes to get to the beach. My host family: Una, Sam and their son Shea, treated us like their own and we all got along like an actual family. They were more than kind and took us anywhere that we wanted. Among the two months that I stayed here, we went to many different places that I have never been before, including: A Drive-in movie theatre and a waterpark. We even saw sights in New York City that you only see in movies and pictures. There was always something new to do and we were always excited for what the day brought. The experience that my host family gave me was one that I could have never imagined and I would like to thank them all individually for accommodating myself, Ailbhe and Colleen for the summer as well as Project Children for giving me an opportunity of a lifetime.
Ailbhe O’Connor, Nursing student, University College of Cork.
USGLLC/International The Arts & Sports Division, New York
Little did I know stepping onto the flight in Shannon was going to change my life forever. I was both nervous and excited heading off to the States for the summer, I had never been to America so I was looking forward to seeing what the beautiful country had to offer. After taking the flight I knew I was in for a great summer having met two of the other interns Colm and Conor, after just a 6 hour flight it felt like the 4 of us had been friends for ages, I knew if all the interns were like them there would be no fear of me for the summer! We arrived in JFK on Friday evening at about 16:30 where we were greeted by the man himself Denis Mulcahy and Sam Gormley. We also met 3 other interns, Colleen, Rachael and Anna we set off for GWL for what was going to be a summer of a life time. After a long 4 hours of being stuck in traffic in the city we finally made it to Greenwood Lake at 22:30, to say we were shattered was an understatement. We were kindly welcomed to a BBQ at the Waterstone Inn where we met the Mulcahy family, The Gormleys and more of the locals. We went home and got organised for Alabama and we set off at 5am on Saturday morning. We travelled to Newark airport to start the journey to Tusculoosca Alabama to work with Habitat for Humanity. We met the notorious Al de Benedictis and 3 more interns, Ita, Meabh and Katie. We set off for a long days travelling and finally reached Alabama at 3. We stayed in YMCA camp with Habitat for Humanity. We were the first bus to arrive and a few hours later a bus with the rest of the interns arrived, we all introduced ourselves and started to get to know each other. On the Saturday evening we had a BBQ and went to a local church to watch the Project Children documentary "How to defuse a bomb". On Sunday morning we had the option to go to a Catholic Church or non-denominational church. I chose to go to the non-denominational one for the experience, and I wasn't sorry I did. We were greeted at the church with coffee and donuts, which immediately was a bonus! From the beginning of the ceremony to the end it was both fun and interesting, there was singing for the whole ceremony and the whole congregation was included. After mass we went to Wal-Mart to get snacks and clothes to work in for the week, unsurprisingly the majority of us came out having spent our first week’s stipend. We were brought to a local river, which was more like a lake, where we spent the afternoon cooling down and getting to know each other some more. In the evening after dinner we met with some of the workers from Habitat for Humanity and they gave us some information about the organisation and what work we would be doing for the week. On Monday morning we set off for the site and went to Mrs Sonia's house for the first time. We met the construction crew, Zach, Barry and Brandon who gave us an introduction and safety demo. We were then split into groups of different jobs to do on site. I was part of the siding crew where we had to screw planks of fibre cement into the sides of the house. I had never done work like this before so I was excited to get stuck into it. It was tough at the start but after a while I was a natural. After a tough week with stifling heat and 20 drained interns the results of the house was amazing. I was honoured to have been part of the experience and help contribute to Mrs. Sonia who had been so unfortunate in the past having had to spend rainy days in her car because her house was leaking throughout. It's safe to say I will be forever grateful to Denis and Pat Mulcahy and everyone involved with Project children as I feel this week in Alabama has made me appreciate life more and be grateful for what I have. I feel been given this opportunity has helped shape me as a person and change my perspective and outlook on life forever.
Katie Dysart, Law student, QUB.
Nassau County Clerks Office, Supreme Court of the State of New
The past seven weeks spent with Project Children have been beyond anything I could have imagined. From the outset I knew this would be an excellent opportunity for both personal and professional development. Only upon reflection of my time in the States have I come to realise the extent that Project Children has positively had on my life. It was not until I became a part of Project Children that I understood the strong sense of belonging that thrives among the Project Children community. It truly has been such an honor to cross paths with such generous, selfless and admirable individuals during my time. Our time spent in Alabama with Habitat for Humanity was not only highly rewarding and humbling, but a tremendous social watershed for many. The camp and work site became the epicentre for all the interns and coordinators from a variety of different cultures and ages to bond and develop friendships. From the outset, the interns quickly became aware of the intense workload and effort required on site. Jetlagged and apprehensive, we embarked on construction of Mrs. Sonya’s home in Tuscaloosa following a horrific tornado that totally devastated her home in 2011. Realising the severity of the conditions that Mrs. Sonya had been living in for several years, this spurred us on to give all of our effort to help improve her situation. Despite the 6am wake up calls and blistering heat, spirits always continued to remain high - this certainly contributes to the fact that Alabama remains one of my favourite experiences. When work was completed for the day, everyone continued to thrive and remain full of energy. The trips to The University of Alabama, dinner with the Judge and trips to the picturesque lake with golden sand certainly was a great reward and a great way to unwind after a tough morning on the site. The combination of hard work and play allowed each intern to develop a sense of confidence and self-esteem. For me, it certainly gave me a sense of independence and pride to be able to look at the house and see the difference our work made. There was an incredible amount of planning involved in Alabama, but it was certainly worth the trip. From Alabama I was able to forge friendships with wonderful interns and Project Children volunteers, and experience the beautiful south and its warm hospitality. Alabama is certainly an experience I will never forget. Finally, I would like to offer a huge thank you to The Habitat and Project Children coordinators and volunteers, who instilled in us a sense of confidence through their relentless encouragement and support.
For my internship I had an incredible opportunity to intern with both Maureen O’Connell from the Nassau County Clerks Office and with Supreme Court Judges David P. Sullivan and Robert A. McDonald from the Nassau County Court and New York State Supreme Court. I found both internships to be thoroughly interesting and intellectually stimulating, which has endowed me with a multitude of skills that will surely aid me immeasurably in my future career. Before beginning my internship I was somewhat concerned about being confronted with issues outside my depth. Employees and both Judges were always happy to explain any questions I had, which massively contributed to my learning experience. I thought I would be dealing exclusively with run of the mill issues, however that could not have been further from the truth. Both Judges dealt with a myriad of enthralling cases, and it was to these cases that I devoted most of my time. For instance, I was able to see a murder trial, whereby the defendant wished to self represent, which gave rise to several complex legal issues. At the clerks office I was actively involved in filing papers for the Supreme Court on the new NYC electronic filing system. It was hugely rewarding to see that the work I was doing was of value. I regularly had to carry out research in order to solve any legal issues that arose within the different cases. This really honed my research skills and made me appreciate the value of such skills in the legal profession. It was excellent to gain exposure to a different legal jurisdiction and be able to compare and contrast with Northern Ireland’s domestic legal system. While witnessing trials, it was admirable to experience both Judges’ vehement support and loyalty towards the legal system and determination to serve justice rightly and fairly. I hope in the future I can follow a career that allows my legal expertise to help those less fortunate and protect the vulnerable. Firstly, at the Clerks office I was able to act as an agent for the state and federal US governments. My primary objective as an intern here was to promote and facilitate access to official government records and assist members of the public and legal professionals with obtaining and recording court documents. Overall, I have only positive experiences from my internship. It certainly made my future career path much clearer and certain. Many thanks must be contributed to Project Children, The Nassau County Court and Clerks Office for allowing me such a brilliant opportunity and learning experience. Saving the best for last, I must offer a huge thanks to my host family, Tom and Terry Kinirons. Their kindness and generosity has been unimaginable. Having been blessed with such a wonderful couple to live with, it was always a delight to come home to the comfort and safety of their home in Long Island. It was only through their selflessness that I have been granted the opportunity to participate on the programme – without people like them, the programme would cease to exist. They have been involved with the programme for around 40 years – a true testament to their altruistic manner towards others. They kindly took me under their wing, introduced me to their incredible children and grandchildren and brought me to countless family parties. Spending time over drinks and the BBQ at their RV on the beach during the evening will always remain a highlight. Tom and Terry have been extremely supportive and understanding from the beginning, and I can only hope to see them again soon in the future!
Laura Dagens, Social Work student, University Ulster, Magee.
New York Labour council and Thea Bowman house
The first week of our trip was spent in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This was one of the most memorable weeks of the whole trip for various reasons, firstly this is where we all got to know each other very well and really where we all became friends. The craic that we had at the camp was unbelievable with going for little adventure walks in the surrounding area or the pure excitement of getting to go to Wal-Mart. Although these are all great things the best was getting to work on the house. I’ll just say this before coming to project children I never believed I’d be up on a scaffolding and soffiting a house, mostly because I’m scared of heights and not particularly good with tools. However, Katie, Kathryn, Chris and myself managed to learn how to do it and also how to best dodge the sun, which was brutal. After the work was done a lot of the day we went up to a Lake to cool of and one day was even spent at Alabama university swimming pool, which was more like a water park than a pool. As the week went on Colleen, Katelin and I started doing the siding of the house, the craic was great and we decided the group needed a name so we settled on the side chicks, I think the name is a product of heat stroke but we ended up loving it. The most exciting thing on the building site was when we seen the car pull up that had lunch in it, the toasties every day were great! Overall this week was an amazing experience not only did we bond as a group but we all got to help out someone in need.
I was lucky because I got two internships, on Mondays I was at the labour council and the rest of he week was spent at Thea Bowman house. Firstly the labour council, I had no idea what to expect but I know I was not expecting to have quite as much fun. The only other person in the office was Enesa and we literally couldn’t have got on better! Not only was it quality craic I learned how to work in an office environment, which I’d never done before and it has help to take away some of the worry about doing my own placement for my social work degree. For the rest of the week I was at the Thea Bowman house, which I loved as well. I got to do a range of jobs between the two centres. The first one that I was in for the longest was the centre with the younger children, my class the bears where from 3-5 years old and the teacher Ms Kim was incredible with the kids. The kids where hilarious even if there was a temper tantrum in every once and a while! The next centre I spent about a week at and this was mostly spent with the kindergarten kids, although I did get to work with the social worker on site Mrs Darleen, who all the kids loved. Each day we brought the kids to the pool and I went into the pool with them, they loved learning how to float and kick their leafs and our favourite game had to be tag. I’m very grateful for this experience and the 6 weeks flew by so quick between loving both the places where I worked and also the family I’m staying with!
Matthew Madill, Maths student, University of Bath.
MSA Security, Accountancy, New York.
Out of all of the weeks of the trip I'd have to say my time in Alabama was definitely up there as one of my favourites. The entire experience was completely unique and unlike anything I had ever done in the past. First of all getting to meet and get to know everyone taking part in the program was so easy, as everyone was just so friendly and dead on, including the coordinators from both Project Children and Habitat. The work was just as hard as I'd heard from previous years and the excessive heat and humidity definitely didn't help, however it was still very enjoyable and fulfilling knowing that all of our hard work was helping someone who was in desperate need. When we weren't on the site we all got to chill out together at the campsite or on some days by the lake. I could certainly see myself taking part in a similar program back in Belfast and I'm sure that won't be the last time I visit Alabama, as it made such a great impression on me.
I've really enjoyed everything that my internship at MSA has had to offer, working in downtown Manhattan, in New York city for a company like MSA is a once in a life in time experience. Everyone in the finance department has been very welcoming and friendly and there's no work question I can't ask. I've really gotten a flavour for all the day to day work the accountants here do, getting to work through a range of tasks from the internal staff accounting, going through shift payments and Amex receipts to larger problems including the reconciliation of sales tax to name but a few. My time here has also allowed me to improve my skills with excel, learning to write scripts in VBA to increase the efficiency of my work, as well as giving me insight into industry standard tools such as Netsuite and Avalara. Then because of the excellent location during my lunches and after work I get to go out and explore the downtown area going to see the sites and trying new foods, looking for the best slice of pizza New York has to offer. Overall my internship at MSA has given me an essential piece of experience in the Finance sector and taught me vital skills. The whole experience is one that I'll never forget.
Conall Casey, Masters in Architecture, QUB.
BHC Architects, Hauppauge, Long Island
Our initial week began in Tuscalossa, Alabama. Upon arrival it was vividly clear how everyone on the program had no prior relationship with each other. The nerves and soft-spoken nature of the group were extremely apparent, however with the lack of wi-fi, social media and other technological distractions, it was amazing how everyone’s attitudes began to change throughout the week. Each of us got to know one another as both a group and as individuals. The demanding activities of the worksite for the Habitat for Humanity program encouraged team work and social interaction which quickly allowed for personal friendships to develop. The on-site coordinator for our team was Sam and Brendan, whose patience and knowledge allowed us to quickly learn new skills and experience how different the construction methods and style of design are in a much harsher climate than Irelands. As an architecture student there is nothing more beneficial than being able to obtain international construction experience first-hand. The workdays started early, however there was still no escape from the heat. Everyone struggled in their mission to hide from the sun under the scaffolding or indoors. Although despite the heat, as the project continued to progress to the final stages everyone developed a great sense of pride and ownership in the work they had done. Also, the fact that this project was for the benefit of a person who had been affected by a natural disaster was simply just so rewarding as a person and an architect.
Internship - BHC Architects My time with BHC Architects was extremely beneficial. Being able to experience how an American architecture firm functions and be a part of its on-going projects will benefit my future career greatly. I had the privilege of working on several projects, mainly large scale residential/town master plans under the supervision of Michael Sargent. I was quickly brought up to speed with the current projects going on in the office and was even assisted in using new software’s. The work was fast paced and demanding as project deadlines were set each week. However, with detailed instruction and teamwork, all deadlines were constantly met. The other intern Michael and I could not have been luckier to have gotten Vinny as our host family for the duration of the program. We stayed with Vinny in Wantagh, Long Island approximately an hour outside of Manhattan. His generosity and humour made our trip an unforgettable experience and we are making sure he visits us In Ireland in the future. One of the greatest experiences we had was our trip to Washington DC. Vinny took six of the interns for the weekend and organized a personal tour of the Capital building and showed us the other points of interest which for me was amazing to experience the historical and architectural relevance of the Capital of the USA. Being able to submerse myself in American culture as well as work and volunteer in an entirely unique country has been a fantastic opportunity that I am truly thankful to have been a part of. You could come to New York yourself 100 times and not be able to get the same experiences that we did with Project Children and for that I will never forget.
Conor Cross, Liberal Arts student, Mary Immaculate College.
York Scaffold Equipment Corp, New York.
My name is Conor Cross, I am from Abbeyfeale in Limerick. I'm studying liberal arts in Mary Immaculate College. This year I got the chance to go on Project Children. I have loved every minute of it. Alabama was surprisingly one of the best experiences of the many I have had here. My experience in New York was also brilliant. I got the chance to experience the American way of life. At my host families house we would have a BBQ every night. I made many visits to beaches and also to Manhattan where I got the chance to go sightseeing. There's no doubt about it New York is the city that never sleeps and that's a fact. On this trip of a lifetime I have met many incredible, interesting and unique people, I have made friends for life and great memories that I will cherish forever. Thank you Denis Mulcahy and everyone involved.
Katelin Archer,Economics student, QUB.
Turning Stone Resort Casino, New York.
One of the best parts of the Alabama trip for me was the hard work and construction. I really enjoyed physically building a part of the house and working alongside our Project Children group and the habitat for humanity crew. The job I remained in throughout the week was the siding of the house- it was very hard work but, it was great to see the progress we made as days went by. It was an experience in itself to use power tools! We actually managed to complete the siding and it looked fantastic; the long hours in the sun had really paid off. By the end of the week, we were so exhausted, the majority of us turned to painting. Throughout our time there we got to know more about each other, bonding over campfires and games, however, this only made it harder to leave everyone for our internships at the end.
After the week of working at Habitat for Humanity, I began my internship at Turning Stone Resort Casino in the Events team. Throughout the weeks I was involved in various events such as volunteering at the annual employee picnic, helping to run casino slot tournaments and organizing guest parties. I was also fortunate to be there to help celebrate their 25th anniversary, assisting with VIP dinners, gift giveaways and cupcake distribution. I was amazed by the history of the Oneida Nation and its progression from a single bingo Hall in 1993 to a multi-million dollar organization employing 5000 25 years on. My experience overall gave me an insight into the American working culture and how much planning and preparation goes into running such events. Beyond my internship, Sophie and I had the honour of experiencing American life with two wonderful host families: Julie & Chris Matt and Georgette & Kevin Crawford. Our time was packed with trips to Destiny Mall, paddle boarding, Bloc and graduation parties and even bartending at On the Rocks bar. They all made us feel like we were home away from home. I am extremely grateful to my host families, the events team at Turning Stone and Project Children for a truly incredible experience.
Kathryn Culhane Early Years and ED, University College Cork.
Waterstone Inn, New York
Project Children Summer Work & Travel Program provides a once in a lifetime opportunity for students from Northern Ireland and Ireland. The seven-week 'cultural exchange' program runs each summer and gives us students the chance to immerse themselves in US culture by living, working and volunteering in the US. The first leg of my journey was a week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama doing volunteer work. On talking to previous interns who volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Alabama with the Project children program I had anticipated a brilliant, fun-filled adventure. As the week progressed I began to realise how much this experience would impact on my life and how it would change my perspective of what is truly important. When speaking to a woman who was affected by the tornado and shown the pictures of the shocking conditions she had had been living in we all felt a responsibility to work our hardest in order to complete our goal of building her a new house. Although none of us had any expertise in the building business we began to learn new life skills and we all had something different to bring to the table. Yes, we made mistakes, but we kept deliberating and working together until we finally figured out what was the best course of action. When the gruelling heat became too much, and we began to slack a bit all we needed to do was look at the 70-year olds who volunteer yearly up on the scaffolding putting us too shame. I never thought I would say that being in a secluded area with no phone service or Wi-Fi and a detox from all social media would be one of best weeks of my life ...but surprisingly it has been... Yes, we were forced to talk to each other! And support one another through this amazing and challenging experience. We learnt so much about ourselves and found talents we never knew that we possessed. I have made lifelong friends and have met inspirational selfless people who volunteer year after year with no desire for praise. I hope to have taken even some elements of guidance and wisdom from them and their example will stay with me and enrich my life regardless of which path I take in the future. We bade a fond farewell to my new friends in Alabama and now find myself in Greenwood Lake New York where I am working in The Waterstone Inn, a beautiful Bed and Breakfast, run by the Mulcahy family. The Mulcahy family have made me feel part of the family and I am enjoying the responsibility of helping out in the Inn for the next six weeks. Since I arrived I have experienced the 4th of July celebrations in this beautiful part of the world overlooking the spectacular view of the lake. I hope to experience American culture in all its forms over the next few weeks and to acquire valuable life skills in the process. I am really enjoying the experience given to me by project Children organisation and would recommend it to any 3rd level student looking for an authentic American experience.
Chris Leneghan, Law student, QUB.
Bruno, Gerbino & Soriano, New Jersey.
I have heard from previous interns how life changing this experience would be, but it was even more than I expected. The week in Alabama was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I have so many memories and friendships from that trip that I’ll cherish for life. The supervisors from both Project Children and Habitat for Humanity could not have set a better example for us all and we all look up to each one of them. I know we have all left with some more role models in our life. I never thought it was possible to miss a bunch of strangers so much after only a week of knowing them, or that a random collection of 21 young people from Ireland could come together to make such a great impact on someone’s life, but this program has shown me that both are possible. On the work site, everyone was roasting in the Alabama heat, all clothes were saturated with a combination of sweat and ice cold water, and faces were red from the sun and exhaustion. There was something extremely humbling about a group of strangers seeing you in your worst possible state on a daily basis. The bonds and friendships that were borne of these testing conditions were incomparable to anything I had ever experienced. After the life changing experience that was Alabama, I didn’t think anything could match it, but after 6 weeks living and working with the Smith family I realise I was wrong.
Matt Snr, Michelle, Matt Jnr and Brendan could not have been more welcoming and accommodating, and I can happily say that the friendships I have formed with them are as strong and lasting as those I made in Alabama. The whole family were adamant to show me as much of America as possible (often described as “Americana” by Matt Snr) and that they did! From rodeos, pick-up trucks, fried Twinkies, country music concerts and county fairs to Manhattan, Long Island, Philadelphia and central New Jersey, I really got to see everything America has to offer! Big shout out to Matt Jnr who housed and fed me during my stay in America. He wasn’t expecting to have to look after a random Irish guy for 6 weeks, but he did a fantastic job and I couldn’t have asked for a better host, and I’ll certainly miss his company when I return to Ireland.
Everyday at work, Matt Snr ensured I had something to do. Best of all, it was all important and relevant tasks, and I really felt like I was contributing to the work of the office. Matt placed a lot of trust in my abilities, often much more than I felt I deserved. But with Matt’s guidance and advice I feel like I was able to complete every task to the best of my abilities, and I am very proud of everything I have achieved. I also had the opportunity to accompany Matt Jnr to a trial and an arbitration, as well as watching Matt Snr take a deposition, all of which gave me a unique and personal insight into the American legal system. Everyone in the firm made sure I felt like part of the team, and they all went out of their way to make me feel included. On my second last day there, there was an after-work party for everyone in the office, which really gave me a chance to bond with the colleagues even more. I’m going to miss all the craic from the office so much, as everyone got along so well. Like many fields these days, it is not easy to get into law back home. Nearly every law firm expects you to have prior office experience. Over the past year, multiple firms have told me that they would be interested in me re-applying in future after I have some office experience. I know that this internship will be invaluable for me securing a job, and I will undoubtedly stand out from the crowd with my experience of working in a law firm in New Jersey, representing some of the biggest insurance companies in the country. Not only this, my time at Bruno, Gerbino & Soriano has also given me a new confidence in myself and my abilities, and I am very grateful to Matt Snr for putting his trust in me to carry out tasks that I had no prior experience with. At the beginning, I was very hesitant about starting new tasks, but by the end Matt Snr had given me enough confidence that I was ready to tackle any task he had for me. I had a summer that could never be matched, and I’ll most certainly be returning to Ireland with a new perspective on life. So many of the people, including all the supervisors, the whole Smith family and everyone who donates to the program, are just genuine, good-hearted people who want to help out strangers. All of us on this program have received such a great kindness, and I hope we all get a chance to replicate it in the future. I can never express my thanks or gratitude to all those involved, but I hope I am able to pass the kindness on. I know I will certainly be opening my house for the Smith family any time they need, they really are some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. All in all, I am so proud and grateful to be a part of something so special.