Two Mayo students, Tara Mellet and Lisa Marie O’Malley, are about to embark on a summer adventure of a lifetime to the United States, but rather than a J1 summer break they have been selected to take part in the prestigious Washington Ireland Program (WIP ) an internationally recognised competitive programme that selects young people with recognised leadership skills and a commitment to service to undertake an eight week internship in the political sector in Washington DC. Both Tara and Lisa will depart for the US capital early next month.
Tara Mellet is from Shrule and Lisa Marie O’Malley hails from Ardagh, Newport, and they will be part of a class of 30 students this summer who will take part in the program,e. Ms Mellet is a student at the University of Liverpool and is set to graduate in a number of weeks as a diagnostic radiographer, whereas Ms O’Malley is in her final year studying psychology, English, and economics at the University of Limerick. The WIP is a cross-community and cross border organisation that identifies promising young people with a commitment to service and a track record of leadership. WIP builds their skills through work experience, educational opportunity, and hands on citizenship both at home and in the US. In a year of notable global events, the Washington Ireland Program also has cause to celebrate, 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the programme and events on both sides of the Atlantic are taking place to celebrate this milestone.
Looking forward to her placement Tara Mellet said: “I was delighted to be chosen to participate in WIP! Although my educational background is not rooted in politics or international affairs, the ethos of WIP is that leaders come from all backgrounds and communities and I will be proud to represent my community, both in Shrule and Liverpool while participating in WIP. Many people on the programme have a particular passion that they will bring to the fore during their WIP experience, and in particular I am interested in the issues that Irish people living in the UK can face when accessing healthcare, particularly mental health and addiction services.”
Lisa O’Malley said: “Like Tara, I am also thrilled about and grateful for the unique opportunities afforded by participation in WIP! I am passionate about education and I have a lot of experience working to promote access to education for children from underprivileged backgrounds in Limerick. Therefore, I am really excited about the chance to work in the Department of Education in Washington DC for my internship. Moreover, our involvement with WIP also gives us the chance to become more informed about cross-community relations and healing between Northern-Ireland, Ireland and England. We are challenged to share our viewpoints with people who have very different perspectives and discuss compromises and resolutions to these conflicts. In this way, it also encourages us to have an active voice in wider community and social affairs and develops our ability to do so. I can't wait for the adventure in Washington to begin.”
In Washington DC both women will complete eight week internships along with a comprehensive leadership programme, with Ms Mellet interning in the Lombardi Cancer Research Centre at Georgetown University and Ms O’Malley working in the Department of Education's Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE ) and the Military Affairs Team (MAT ).