First Impressions: Week One

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After an exhausting first week I am finally settling into my apartment and my internship. I spent the week getting an overview of all the projects as well as talking about what work needs to be done within those projects. I am working with both Emer and Michelle who oversee several projects each. I will mainly be helping Emer with a youth project that has experienced some problems along the way. I will be helping her to execute 6 community action projects (CAPs) where 15 youth groups will be creating a showcase, which highlights the work they have done throughout the year. I will be going out to visit some of these youth groups as well as the two facilitators we are working with to help execute the projects. I will also be helping Emer with evaluations of the projects, which will include talking with the youth about their experience and figuring out what needs to be changed to make the project more effective. I will also be working with Michelle with evaluations of her projects as well. I will be conducting phone interviews with some of the teachers who participated in any of Michelle’s three projects. She has also said that she hopes to have a focus group to hear what they have to say about the programs. It is doubtful I will still be here for when she conducts the focus group, but I will be helping her select the participants and schedule the event. I have also talked to several of the other project managers in the office and have told them all I am interested in getting out and into the communities to see the work being done. Unfortunately, my trip here in Belfast is poorly timed since almost all of the projects come to an end in the summer months. Once the schools are let out, many of the staff turns their attention to evaluation and creation of new projects. I have also talked to both Emer and Michelle about their plans for the upcoming year and I hope to help them with their planning. I was also able to get a chance to talk to the Peter Sheridan, our chief executive officer.  He was kind enough to sit down and talk with me about the goals of the organization, what they do, why they do it and where they are going. He also asked about my interests and what I hoped to gain from working with Co-operation Ireland. It was great to see that my interests matched up well with Peter’s description of the organization. I shared my interest in Northern Ireland as an example of conflict resolution for other parts of the world. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Peter also believe that talking about the Northern Ireland example is important in a global context and recently traveled to Bahrain where he talked about the path to peace in Northern Ireland. Most of the week was spent learning about the programs and talking about plans for my time here. I also did some planning for the CAPs which included sending a detailed report of each project to the funding organization. After the first few days of work I was ready to spend a great weekend exploring the city since there was some great weather. I went to St. George’s Market and visited the Botanic Gardens that are located next to Queens University. I also went and just enjoyed a nice lunch in front of the city hall since the sun was shining and everyone was out. Overall it was a great first week and I am looking forward to a busy week ahead.

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