The Irish International Immigrant Center led a community leadership learning exchange program to Ireland in early December. Participants in the highly successful visit included twelve prominent community leaders from Boston and Chelsea, Massachusetts.
The purpose of the trip was for the Boston/Chelsea delegation to meet their counterparts in Belfast, Derry, and Donegal, and to exchange best practices for social inclusion, community development, and creating sustainable communities. The program was designed to further develop strategic connections between Boston and Ireland. These connections will promote shared learning and will increase the potential for future cooperative initiatives.
The delegation from Massachusetts included leaders whose areas of expertise spanned fields such as innovative community development; housing and urban regeneration; sustainable food systems; inner-city youth projects, cultural diversity and integration.
The program included visiting urban regeneration projects in Belfast and Derry, and a two-day workshop with community leaders from Northern Ireland at the Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Center in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim. The final stop on the trip was Letterkenny, where the group was hosted by the Donegal County Development Board. The meetings here offered a chance to learn about the excellent work of the Donegal CDB’s Peace and Reconciliation Partnership.
The December program built upon the foundation of earlier outreach and initiatives between the IIIC and leading community-based organizations and governmental agencies in Ireland.
“The Boston group enjoyed every minute of the visit,” said Ronnie Millar, Deputy Director of the IIIC. “We packed so much into the week, and it was great to see the learning and sharing going both ways. We are very grateful for all the hospitality and openness shown to us by everyone, and we look forward to future collaboration with all our partners in Ireland.”
The learning exchange was supported by the Tyrone-Donegal Partnership, PEACE III Program, managed for the Special EU Programs Body by Donegal County Council, the Northern Community Relations Council, the Corrymeela Community and the Barr Foundation.