By Isaac Ross

IIIC's Ann Marie Byrne leads the Clanrye Wider Horizons group on a tour of Boston.

It’s nearly 6:30 pm on a September mid-week evening and Kieran Taggart sits in the reception of the Irish International Immigrant Center, discussing final details of his group’s placements in youth and community organizations across the city with Erika Bareiss.

“That teen center wanted to know how many Wider Horizon’s trainees I could send their way,” Erika says as she takes a seat beside Kieran. “I told them we could only send one or two. The caller sounded disappointed; he said ‘Oh, because we’d take all of them if we could!’” 

The success of the partnership between the IIIC and Clanrye has enabled the program to grow by leaps and bounds, with record numbers of young Irish men and women securing meaningful placements across the city.

The trainees’ success in their six-week placements and the expansion of the Wider Horizons program to four groups a year is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the trainees. It is also a testament to the Herculean efforts of people like the IIIC’s Director of Learning Exchange Programs, Ann Marie Byrne, and Program Assistant Erika Bareiss, who match trainees with suitable host families and work placements.

“This is one of the most socially diverse groups I’ve led,” says Kieran, the Wider Horizons team leader. “We have people with a very wide range of personalities and interests.”

This group’s interests include youth services, community development, horticulture and boxing. This has led the IIIC to reach out to new non-profits in search of meaningful matches.

“I’m particularly excited about the placement we were able to secure for Dylan at the Food Project” explains Erika.

The Food Project’s mission is to grow a thoughtful and productive community of youths and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system.

“You have people who come in and are very shy, and by the end the program, they are the ones who want to make the graduation speeches,” Kieran says. “The group ends up going home with the skills and a positive attitude to get a job at home. For the youth who sign up for the program the experience truly does widen their horizons. It teaches them that they have the capacity to achieve anything they put their minds to.”

We wish all the trainees much success over the next six weeks in their work placements.