Frequently Asked questions

  1. What is The Washington-Ireland Program?

The Washington-Ireland Program for Service and Leadership (WIP) brings university students from both Catholic and Protestant communities from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the United States for the summer. Inspired by its parent organization, Project Children, WIP helps prepare the next generation of leaders on the isle of Ireland. By exposing them to cultural difference, developing their individual and team leadership skills and challenging them to grow professionally through an intern experience, the program offers life-changing experiences and fosters life-long relationships that cross the sectarian divide. The six-month program of personal and professional development begins and ends with practical service in Northern Ireland and Ireland, and is built around an eight-week summer program in Washington, DC.

  1. What are the goals of The Washington-Ireland Program?

WIP selects promising third-level students from Northern Ireland and Ireland, trains them to work as an effective leadership team, builds a trust between them that transcends sectarian boundaries, celebrates the group's identity in diversity, and challenges them to achieve professional and personal excellence, all to better equip participants to meet the future challenges of peace and progress on the island of Ireland.

  1. Who can participate?

To be eligible, candidates must be:

  • Irish or Northern Irish born or citizens who have an Irish or British passport (Northern Ireland) and call Ireland, North or South, home;

  • A full-time university or third-level student in Ireland or the UK;

  • Between the ages of 18-25;

  • In good health;

  • In good standing with their university and passing their subjects at better than a passing grade;

  • Willing to demonstrate 'leadership through service' before and after the program; and

  • Ready to participate in a diverse leadership team.

  1. What’s the commitment?

Each candidate commits to a six-month program of personal and professional development, including a total of 30 hours of practical, hands-on leadership training in their own communities before their eight-week summer placement in Washington, DC. and 40 hours after the summer in a Group Service Project. Upon graduation, participants promise an additional 50 hours devoted to helping launch and run the following year’s program (marketing, recruiting, selecting and mentoring the next WIP class).

  1. What can program participants expect once they get to Washington, DC?

The Washington summer offers participants a first-hand experience of U.S. government and politics and an immersion in Washington culture. Through an intense eight-week schedule, young people from different sides of the political divide are challenged to work and learn as a team and to create an environment of mutual respect.

Program highlights include:

  • An internship in a high-profile Washington, DC office. Past internship placements through WIP have included both federal and local government, business, non-profit organizations, labor unions, professional services firms and media organizations (e.g., The White House, Congressional offices, The Northern Ireland Bureau, The World Bank, Habitat for Humanity, AFL-CIO, CNN and CBS).

  • Enrollment in a comprehensive leadership program that exposes participants to a guest faculty of government, business and leadership experts. The course challenges them to use Internet and Web technology as learning tools and engages them in their own research on American models of post-conflict leadership. Each participant is enrolled as a Library of Congress researcher with access to primary documents.

  • Exposure to “typical” life in America by living with Washington area Host Families

  • Sightseeing throughout historic Washington, DC and the surrounding region, as well as opportunities for weekend trips including a visit to New York City.

  • A chance to build relationships free from sectarian barriers and to grow into mutual respect based on personal understanding.

  • An opportunity to educate friends and family about their experience through online journals.

  1. How many students participated last year?

twenty seven students from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland spent eight weeks in Washington as interns, developing their professional and leadership skills as well as interacting with Washingtonís movers and shakers. 300 students have graduated from the program since its inception in 1995.

  1. How can I apply for the Washington-Ireland Program?

Program applicants have represented more than 30 different Universities in Northern Ireland, Ireland, England and Scotland. To apply, students must complete a written application, available for downloaded from www.wiprogram.org during the application season. Personal interviews will be held with each finalist in Dublin, Belfast or Scotland. Successful applicants will then be required to sign a contract with the Washington-Ireland Program indicating that they will abide by the rules of the program by:

  • Attending all required program activities from April to September.

  • Not engaging in any dishonest or dishonorable conduct.

  • Complete the practical requirements of the program to the best of your ability.

While in Washington, the contract requires:

  • Observation of program curfews.

  • No underage drinking or abuse of alcohol or drugs.

  • No behavior that would bring the program into disrepute.

  • Fitting in with the Host Family and treating them with respect.

  1. What is the role of the Host Family?

Host Families are Washington-area residents who open up their homes to students for the summer. This allows participants a chance to see what day-to-day life is like in an American home and to build lasting relationships. Many volunteer households sign-up year after year and look forward to the cultural exchange. Students typically arrive in mid-June and leave for home in mid-August.

  1. How can I get involved?

The program welcomes funding for projects in Washington and abroad; employers to provide unique six-week internship opportunities for WIP participants; and Host Families to provide a home base for each student.

Program projects, funding, and host families: Contact Paul Costello at paul@storywise.com.

Office placements: Contact the WIP office in Washington at office@wiprogram.org

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