44.4 F
Kennedale
Sunday, November 27, 2022

Ulster Project with a Kennedale Connection

Related Articles

?
Earlier this year, the Kennedale News reported on the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Arlington Ulster Project.?The anniversary has come and gone and so have 18 teens from Northern Ireland. ?

(http://kennedalenews.com/th-anniversary-of-ulster-project-p518-162.htm)

?
The Ulster Project was actually started in 1975 in Tullamore, County Offally in Ireland by an Anglican minster, Rev. Kerry Waterstone. ?The Rev. Waterstone felt that the attitudes of teens from Northern Ireland could be changed, if they could see and experience the way {{more}}Americans have learned to live together in their ?melting pot? society. He hoped they might influence the future of religious interaction and discourse in Northern Ireland.
?
This summer eighteen teens from 14-16 years old and divided equally between Protestant and Catholic came to Arlington and were matched with 18 teens and their families here. They arrived June 27th and left a month later on July 27th in an emotional sendoff referred to as ?Tearfest.?
?

Participating this summer were Jonathon “JT” Dixon, a KHS sophomore, and his mother and step-father Jeanette and Bob Franklin. Also in the planning and organizing of the Arlington Project was Mike Sobourin, Activities Co-Chair and his wife Ruth (Worley). Ruth retired last year after teaching over 30 years at Kennedale High School.

?
The Project was a whirlwind of activities from the moment the visiting teens arrived to the day the teens left. They experienced Texas life,?American customs and shared some of their own.?
If you go to the Arlington Ulster website at?http://www.upatx.com/index.html?
you will find much more about the program, photos and a listing of activities.
?
The calendar on the site shows the variety of the activities scheduled from line dancing at Billy Bob?s to an old fashion American style Thanksgiving dinner. All the teens participated in the Arlington 4th of July Parade, went sailing, worked at a food bank, helped feed the homeless, flew an airplane, swam at Burger?s Lake, hosted children from the Area Catholic Charities, did some ?improv? at the Theater Arlington and, of course, went to Six Flags in Arlington and SeaWorld in San Antonio. ?All of that was just a partial listing of their activities.
?
JT was matched with Stephen Moss from Belfast. When asked about the experience that they had this summer, their responses were short and to the point as most teenage boys would be.
?
Best month of our life!
?
“Burger’s Lake was the best thing that we did because we played volleyball, went swimming for ages, dove off the diving boards and played other games. Also, the food that was provided was exceptional”

“This has been my best summer yet. We have been flying planes, taking abused kids on a day of fun, going to Six Flags and a 3-day trip to San Antonio where we went to SeaWorld and tubing down the river”
?
JT has been selected to visit Ireland next year in part of the exchange program and he is not sure he can wait that long.
?
The Ulster website cites the benefits of the annual program.
?

Over 5,000 youth from Northern Ireland have participated overall through the end of the 2003 Project, and, to our knowledge, NONE HAS EVER BECOME PARAMILITARY on either side. Moreover, the project participants from Northern Ireland has been increasing by about 400 per year through the most recent project in 2012, with no project teens having participated in any form of sectarian violence. From the Arlington area, there have been visits by American participants to our?pairedcommunity of Belfast, confirming the continuing cross community association there, which the Belfast clergy, civic leaders and citizens have found so helpful in reducing violence.

In the United States, the American teens and adult experience the joy of ?hands-on? Peacemaking, and lasting friendships that are made with the Northern Irish visitors and with other Americans.? The Project has strengthened the ecumenical ties of cooperation among the churches of Arlington.? Most American host families have remained involved in the Project and continue to support the project.? Although not mandatory, many American teens visit their Northern Irish family the following summer.? It is amazing to delight in the growth and development of our future leaders during the Project.

See video on this page in the column to the left that describes the program.
?

To find out more and how you might help visit?http://www.upatx.com/index.html

More on this topic

Comments

Advertismentspot_img

Popular stories