‘An opportunity that I could not afford to miss..’

Having being accepted to the Washington Ireland Programme my gratitude and excitement was quickly masked by various emotions; I was overwhelmed by anxiety and apprehension. The thought of spending 2 months working in Washington D.C was an opportunity that I could not afford to miss no matter how I felt. However after our pre-departure training in Kippure the qualms were relieved by the fact that I knew I was fortunate and privileged to be given this once in a life time opportunity and to be part of such a hard working and inspiring team of young people.

Photo of Ruth Herlihy

Coming from a rural background, growing up on a farm where I was often sheltered from the harsh ship that life can often throw at us I was somewhat ignorant of the difficulties that others have gone though. I knew that I needed to overcome this ignorance and equip myself with skills that life will inevitably throw at me at some stage in my life.

From the beginning of the WIP process I feel that I have already began this journey of development; I have been given the opportunity to meet inspirational and motivational leaders whether they have been in my own team or the likes of E.J Dionne, Mark Shields and Kevin Laudano. WIP has allowed me to discover my weakness and my faults and the courage to address them. I have been in Washington only a few days and I have already learnt so much in dealing with these issues.

I had a somewhat basic knowledge of the political world pre departure but the past few days in Washington have enhanced both my interest and knowledge of the political world. I was always more inclined to the business and legal world but found myself to be fortunate to be among two critically acclaimed political writers E.J Dionne and Mark Shields who gave me a great insight to the world of politics which I now have a deeper and more profound interest in.

I came on this programme to develop my leadership skills and hopefully the forthcoming weeks will help this but WIP has taught me so much already from project management where Kevin Laudano from Accenture answered our questions to other skills which I never envisaged on learning through WIP but are equally as important for example learning how to navigate the metro system.

I think I have managed to overcome the jet-lag, and hopefully I will overcome anything that WIP decides to throw my way in the forthcoming weeks!