Thirty students from five European countries have arrived in Rossport where they will stay with local families and experience the outdoor beauty and culture of the county.
The second level students - aged 12 to 15 years from Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark and France - arrived in the north Mayo village on Sunday as part of the European Lifelong Learning Programme and will team up with students from Colaiste Chomáin in Rossport.
The students have been accompanied by eleven teachers and will be staying in north Mayo for the next four days before flying back to their respective countries on Friday. During their stay in Mayo they will be taking part in a number of outdoor activities including a guided walk around Erris Head, a day in the Outdoor Education Centre in Achill, cycling the Greenway from Newport to Achill and they will also take a boat trip to Inis Gé off Blacksod.
Ciarán Ó Máille, the project co-ordinator and Deputy Principal in Colaiste Chomáin told The Mayo News that they are looking forward to the visiting students enjoying the scenery and the hospitality of the area.
“We welcome our friends from Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland and Norway with open arms and hope their stay with us is a memorable one. We have organised a week of activities for them and we hope they get a good taste of the west of Ireland. Many of them have never been to Ireland before and their idea of Ireland would be Dublin and Riverdance and it is great for them to see what I consider the real Ireland,” he said.
Colaiste Chomáin have been involved in the European Lifelong Learning Programme since 2010 and their students have travelled to Albertville in the French Alps, Namsos in mid Norway, Reykjavik in Iceland and will be travelling to Finland in May. This will be the first time Rossport will be the host community.
The students will be staying in the Rossport area with families with children going to Colaiste Chomáin while the teachers will stay in Belmullet. In preparation for their arrival they have been in touch via the web and Ciarán explained that the exchange is very beneficial for all the students - both the hosts and visitors.
“This partnership, which is part of the European Lifelong Learning Programme, is of enormous benefit to the students. Not only does it give them the opportunity to travel, it also increases their awareness of European languages, culture and traditions. It tackles attitudes towards stereotypes, and paves the way for future active European citizenship.”
The programme is run through English but Ciarán believes that having stayed in communities who speak minority languages such as Norwegian and Icelandic, it gave his students a better appreciation of speaking Irish and learning different languages.
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