Philip O’Callaghan looks ‘Into the future’

 Since we returned from New York two weeks ago I have given some lengthy thought into what projects and activities I want to do or set when I return to Ireland on the 6thAugust. What has been quite evident in the past couple of days is that the activities that I will outline in a moment really mean a lot to me because they enter into my mind every second of every day. Not a moment passes when I am not trying to develop an idea or add a new aspect or dimension to it. 

Following on from our 12th of July Celebrations last week I have given a lot of thought into setting up a cross border educational project. I appreciate that there are so many of these programs already out in the field at the moment. However, I feel that mine takes on a new path into discussing and debating Ireland & Northern Ireland. There already exists an organization called, ‘Dissolving Boundaries’. Through cross boarder school based activities schools from the North and South come together to work collaboratively.

This program got me thinking, I would like to add a new dimension to this and that is by the inclusion of open and honest debates. I would frame the program over the academic year whereby several pre-determined discussions would take place. Partner schools would be assigned; ideally I would like to have 4 schools in the program to start. These schools would consist of my school where I will be teaching in September, a Catholic and Protestant Northern Irish School and an integrated school from the North. The program would start will in house discussions, the use of ICT and video conferencing would be used to share ideas between schools. Two debates would take place on the back of these in class discussions. These debates would take place in selected schools both North and South. Resulting from these debates the students would be required to write up a paper detailing how they feel the future of their island should go. These reports would give detailed recommendations that could be implemented.
The aim of the program in my mind is to bring together students from all backgrounds and to have the conversations and debates that we need to have. We cannot shy away from them and I am prepared to take them on and work with the students to develop their ideas of where they feel the future is going.
So much has been said about education being the way forward in terms of economic value and moving a country culture and all forward in the right direction. So much sadly will continue to be said, I want to act now to make the changes. The lip service has been paid let’s hear no more of that.
The second initiative that I would be interested in starting up would be an educational business. The idea of starting up a small business had never entered my mind before this program however as the weeks have passed I have developed a strong hunger to start up a small company. All I do know however is that it will be based on education after that some serious thought is needed into what gap I will place my company. I have already started the ball rolling, asking relatives who are in business and asking fellow WIP students for their advice too.
The times ahead are extremely exciting. If the Washington Ireland program has offered me one thing, it would be the hunger to make a positive change locally and nationally. It has afforded me with a newfound drive and passion, a drive and passion that I will take home with me to Dublin.
I do appreciate the support of my fellow WIP colleagues and welcome suggestions on how to move either of the initiatives aforementioned forward.
A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough.