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"Achill and Europe ..."

Original Article als Picture file

11 february 2004

Achill and Europe to forge cultural links ON Friday 8pm at the Achill Cliff House Hotel project members and workshop participants are happy to invite the Achill Community to a "Farewell Party" where we plan to share the results and experiences of our week of work on Achill.
As you have moved around on Achill this week you may have noticed groups of strangers,
perhaps at the Deserted Village or in the shops - all working on various projects.
      This week Europe meets on Achill Island - teachers. coordinators and students from universities and adult education institutions. Eight European countries have gathered on Achill to experience intercultural exchange through project work. One of the coordinators. Dr. Laurent Borgmann, explains why Achill Island was chosen for the meeting: "The inspiring surroundings, the cultural heritage of the island and, above all, the support of members of the Achill Community make Achill Island a perfect meeting place for European projects". The whole undertaking got off to a great start at the Welcome Reception on Sunday at Achill Cliff House. Sean Cannon, the local facilitator, introduced the visitors to Dr. Katie Sweeney (Head of the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology) who spoke of the importance of international exchange in higher education and told us a little of her own experiences as a visiting scholar in Sweden. Mrs Karen Grealis (Marketing Manager of Achill Tourism) said that she was pleased to see the group - especially Guido Henseler who had an internship with the Tourist Information. She remembered how, while travelling on the bus, he had managed to persuade several of his fellow-travellers to come to Achill. He was a real asset to Achill Tourism! Sometimes "Europe" seems a remote idea and although the new media have started to bring people together we are now moving on to the next stage -not just making contact with each other but working across boundaries towards a new unity. As Thomas Berger put it: "the Internet brought us together, but we can build new bridges when we learn to deploy it to the benefit of all European citizens". One aspect of the intercultural exchange is to raise awareness of our own cultural backgrounds and to explore the possibilities of "teaching culture" through the provision of stimulating learning environments - both over the Internet and face-to-face. The student groups will be working on a variety of projects - some more media-based than others. One group - Intercultural E-business - will try to sell items through an internet auction platform for the benefit of the Irish Language Playgroup at Cashel. Hopefully they will benefit from the funds raised from this activity. Our thanks go to all the people who have helped us but particularly to Sean Cannon for opening so many doors to us. In his words "The notion of a United Europe comes alive when people with diverse cultural backgrounds work as closely together as in this week on Achill Island. Our gratitude also to Sheila McHugh for her commitment to the project and for arranging school visits. Teresa Mc Namara and all her staff at the Achill Cliff House for their extraordinary good will, Etain O'Connor, for her generous support of online activity. Grace Ann Lynch. playgroup leader for her enthusiastic support and to everyone else who gave us their time and help so unstintingly. "We wish to express our sincere thanks to the people of Achill who are participating in our workshops. Our aim throughout has been to give the visiting project participants a chance to meet and work with local communities, to give them a feeling of what 'Europe' can be like", says Alexandra Haas, a project coordinator from Germany. The"Farewell Party" on Friday at 8pm at the Achill Cliff House Hotel will be the culmination of the working partnership between project members and Achill participants. Thinking back over the shared experiences of the week left those involved convinced of the value of learning strategies for intercultural success. If Europe is to be more than a monetary union or a source of funding we have to learn how to teach each other culture, through all possible media networks. We know that this week on Achill we have started along this road. Poya Motai, one of the Swedish students said it for us: "We want to say thank you to the Achill community for all their hospitality and support! We hope that one day we will come back." See you at 8pm in the Achill Cliff House at the Farewell Party, music and fun.