Meeting the Americans…

Bridge21 and GMU students at Croke Park

Bridge21 and GMU students at Croke Park

Bridge21 recently welcomed 8 students to Oriel House all the way from George Mason University in Washington. Our American guests spent 3 days working and learning in teams with Bridge21 students, as part of the programme for their Alternative Break to Ireland and Northern Ireland. It was a great opportunity for everyone to learn about one another’s lives and cultures. And of course, to make some new friends along the way!

We asked two of the Irish students, Kate (18) and Greg (14), to write a little about their experience. Here’s what they had to say….

“Before we walked in to Bridge21 that day, Kevin had given gave us some insight into what we might be working on. We thought we were going to make a movie but we weren’t sure. We all sat down, Irish and American students together. We both knew most of the Irish students there so that was cool. To help get to know everyone else, we played some icebreaker games. To start off, we played a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament. It was so funny and we all had a lot of fun. After that, we moved on to the Birthday and Name game, where you had to first arrange yourself in order of the date of your birthday from January to December and then you had to do the same but with names from A to Z.

We played another team building game where we had to place a long thin pole on the ground, using only our two fingers placed under it. It looked like it was going to be simple but it turned out pretty difficult to master and we had to have one clear leader and work together to achieve it.

Then it was time to get going on our task of the day – to get into our teams (every team had a mix of American and Irish students), get to know each other and to make a video about our similarities or differences…or just anything we wanted! We had a blast going into Trinity College to get footage and then putting it all together back in Oriel House, using Windows Movie Maker and Audacity.

Before the end of the day, we showcased the finished movies to all of the other groups. All of the movies were brilliant and there was a wide variety of comedy and imagination – it was great.

Age is just a number! Greg, 14, gets to know the girls from George Mason University.

The next day we had a new group task in which each team was given an Irish or American topic to collect information about and make some kind of presentation to the other teams. It was very fun and we all had a laugh explaining our topics and telling the other groups and mentors what we had been up to. All of the work was excellent, every team put a huge amount of effort into learning their topic and presenting it to the other groups – we had everything from tiger-tamers to curveballs and Oscar Wilde!

The next and final day we went to the Croke Park Museum. We arrived in to the museum and sat down to have a coffee and chat with the Americans. It was fascinating to find out about their education system and lifestyle. Our tour guide Tom showed us a short film and proceeded to bring us around the stadium. We even saw the grass being mown and got to sit in the President’s seat! The day was finished off with a bit of GAA practice and games in the interactive zone of the museum.

All in all, we had great craic and made some brilliant international friends. Bridge21 brought us together, but using the various skills found in each team we taught new facts and made each other laugh all along the way.

Kate & Greg”

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