A Carrick-on-Suir youth group gave a party of young people from Manchester’s inner city an action packed taste of life in Ireland during visit to the town last week.
The Irish leg of the cultural exchange between Carrick-on-Suir Neighbourhood Youth Project and Manchester based youth group Youth Elements concluded with a celebration party in the Nano Nagle Community Resource Centre last Wednesday.
But the firm friendships forged through the exchange are set to continue with a group of Neighbourhood Youth Project members planning to pay their new pals in Manchester a social visit during the summer.
And the successful exchange programme between the two youth organisations has given the members of Carrick-on-Suir NYP an interest in taking part in future exchanges with youth groups in other European countries.
The exchange programme with Youth Elements began last November when a group of eight young women aged between 17 and 19 from Carrick-on-Suir NYP travelled to Manchester to take part in a youth leadership conference examining issues such as homelessness, unemployment and mental health.
During the trip the Carrick-on-Suir groups experienced the multi-cultural diversity of Manchester.
Five members of the Youth Elements Group aged between 20 and 25 made the return visit to Carrick-on-Suir over the Easter holidays.
The group arrived on Friday, March 30 and the following day were brought by the NYP members on a hill walk up to the scenic Loch Mohra in the Comeragh Mountains near Rathgormack.
After this trip they took part in a film workshop hosted by film maker Will Nugent and rounded off the day by attending a Shave or Dye fundraiser in the Royal Bar in Kickham Street.
Following a Sunday of rest and relaxation, the NYP members taking part in the exchange programme delivered a workshop to the visiting group on the Foroige Leadership Programme.
This was followed by a trip to Tramore where they enjoyed a walk on the beach, a pottery making workshop.
Other highlights of the trip were a Zumba dancing workshop and a trip to Kilkenny for a workshop on citizenship.
The Manchester visitors got a send off to remember last Wednesday at the Nano Nagle Centre where their NYP friends threw them a party showcasing Irish and Carrick-on-Suir culture.
Members of Caroline O’Brien’s Traditional Music School and the Sublime Vibez Dance Group performed at the celebration. Brewery Lane Drama Group member Walter Dunphy did some story telling and a group of African women residing at Bridgewater House Centre for Asylum Seekers and Refugees gave a performance of African dance.
Foroige NYP Youth Worker Sarah Dunleavy, who co-ordinated the exchange programme, said the theme of the farewell celebration was Identity and the young people prepared posters for the party.
“We showed a DVD of when the young people attended the Youth Conference in Manchester and we got the young people to talk about their experiences and the exchange.
She said the exchange programme was funded through Leargas and was a fabulous experience for all the girls from the NYP, and also for the Manchester group, who were visiting Ireland for the first time.
“The young people were inspirational. They worked themselves to the bone from 9am to 9pm for all the activities,” she said.
Sarah said the positive experience of the exchange programme with Youth Elements has encouraged NYP to look at doing further international exchanges with youth groups elsewhere in Europe in the future.
Stephanie Cleary and her cousin Kerry Cleary from Kickham Street, Carrick-on-Suir were two of the NYP members, who participated in the exchange programme.
Eighteen year-old Stephanie took part in the first leg of the exchange, the visit to Manchester last November and found it was great to experience the different cultures over there. She found the Manchester group’s trip to Carrick-on-Suir was also really good there was a lot of social activities organised and it wasn’t just all work.
The highlight for her was the hillwalking trip to Loch Mohra and she felt the Manchester visitors really enjoyed the outing.
Kerry, who got her head shaved at The Royal Bar’s Shave or Dye fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society during the exchange trip, said the highlight of the Manchester group’s visit for her was the trip to Tramore.
The Leaving Cert student at Comeragh College said it had been an “absolutely amazing” experience for her and like Stephanie she intends visiting her new friends in Manchester.
“The friendships that were made are going to last longterm and I would love to take part in another exchange,” she told The Nationalist.