Program Details

Each year, WIP selects 30 talented students to join our growing community of leaders and influencers by completing a yearlong program of service and leadership development.

The program is divided into three distinct phases:
1) Orientation and Service in Your Community
2) The WIP Summer Semester
3) Community Service and Advocacy across Northern Ireland and Ireland

The WIP Curriculum

Over the course of the year, students are guided through an extensive curriculum focused on leadership and service. Students develop their own leadership skills through a variety of challenging experiences and also have the opportunity to learn directly from those in local and global leadership positions. Students are exposed to different needs in their own communities and across the island of Ireland through the service components of the curriculum. Significant emphasis is placed on the students learning from one another – challenging each other’s views and perspectives and dealing with difference. Discussions, debates and writing policy papers help the students develop their strategy for a peaceful and prosperous future for the island of Ireland.

Orientation and Service in Your Community

Following a competitive recruitment and selection process, participants receive training and support to help them have a safe and successful experience as members of the Washington Ireland Program Class. This includes two orientation sessions – one focused on preparing for the DC semester, and one focused on resilience training. These sessions provide opportunities for participants to get to know each other and form the foundation of the WIP team.

Students are encouraged to develop clear learning objectives to get the most out of their time on the program. During this phase, students are expected to complete 30 hours of service in their local communities, and also interview local leaders who have inspired them.


The WIP Summer Semester

The majority of the WIP Summer Semester is spent in Washington DC, with 2 weeks in New York City. These combined experiences are designed to expose the students to new ideas and new ways of working in a challenging, stimulating environment. Debates, discussions, the WIP Speaker Series and collaboration on WIP papers all create opportunities for the students to develop their own values and leadership styles.

Work Placement
While in Washington DC, students complete an individual work placement. These vary greatly and are matched as best as possible to the student’s skills and interests. All participants are expected to work hard, act responsibly, challenge themselves and absorb as much of the experience as possible. In return, the placement offers hands-on learning, insights, and opportunities. Previous work placements have included Capitol Hill Offices, Businesses, PR Firms, Research Laboratories, Non-Profits; and Advocacy Organizations.

Following a competitive recruitment and selection process, participants receive training and support to help them have a safe and successful experience as members of the Washington Ireland Program Class. This includes two orientation sessions – one focused on preparing for the DC semester, and one focused on resilience training. These sessions provide opportunities for participants to get to know each other and form the form the foundation of the WIP team.

Students are encouraged to develop clear learning objectives to get the most out of their time on the program. During this phase, students are expected to complete 30 hours of service in their local communities, and also interview local leaders who have inspired them.

“This summer I worked at Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s office on Capitol Hill. I learned how to research for and draft policy advice, and I developed my ability to take initiative and attend as many congressional hearings, staff meetings, and events as possible – ensuring that I relayed key information back to the relevant staffer if they weren’t able to be in attendance. I hope to be able to use this in my future career as a representative within both the student and wider political arena at home.”

Collette McAllister

Class of 2016

“Originally from Lithuania and having lived in Northern Ireland for half of my life, I wasn’t very familiar with the lobbying process in the US! But throwing yourself in the deep end is the best way to learn, right?

Thus, completing my work placement at DDC Public Affairs enabled me to experience lobbying on a huge scale, working with well-respected industry professionals. I developed the digital marketing skills that I felt I lacked by working on real projects just because I asked! My supervisor was so supportive and let me explore any aspect of DDC I was interested in. I was very appreciative that hen I approached the staff at DDC, no matter how busy, everyone was willing to let me learn. For a student in an unfamiliar field this was the ideal situation.”

Gintarė Lenkevičiutė

Class of 2016, DDC Public Affairs

Service
Students work with WIP’s service partners on a regular basis throughout the summer to get an insight into service in a US setting and the challenges that face the city of Washington DC. They support organizations that work to serve the needs of homeless people and disadvantaged youth in the city.

“The students were fantastic! Each student brought their enthusiasm every time they came, and they forged meaningful relationships with our staff and our clients. We really appreciated the outlook they provided and the challenging questions they asked. They were intelligent, hardworking, and kind volunteers, and we couldn’t have asked more from them.”

N Street Village

DC Community Partner

New York City Summit
In 2017, two weeks of the WIP summer semester will be spent in New York City. This expanded curriculum and program of events is designed to help the students think about their own careers and to learn from the career pathways and experience of global leaders in business, finance, the arts, non-profits and technology.

We will bring important questions into focus for the students about their personal and professional development and the employment market they will be entering. The students will be inspired to think about their careers with a fresh perspective, while receiving tangible and practical advice about how to develop and guide a career that is meaningful and rooted in their own values. Each student will be challenged to think about their personal experience and leadership style in the context of the major global challenges facing our society and the economy

 

The Host Family Community
While in DC, students live with WIP’s special community of Host Families. Many of our Host Families have opened their homes to WIP students for more then a decade and are a key part of the WIP cultural exchange experience

Students also collaborate with the students from our sister organization, the South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP).


Community Service and Advocacy across Northern Ireland and Ireland

On returning home, students are supported to use their new skills and perspectives to address the challenges in the wider community. The Class completes a two-day debriefing program that allows them to reflect on their experiences and identify how they are going to tackle the issues that are important to them. They continue to work with each other to develop policy papers, aimed at generating new ideas and advocating for systemic change in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Students demonstrate their commitment to WIP’s mission by completing a substantive service project with one of WIP’s community partners. This is a 90 hour commitment completed over a 9 month period, and is designed to be completed alongside full time study or employment. WIP’s current service partners include the Belfast Interface Project, The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, Cooperation Ireland and the Together: Building a United Community Summer Camps, and Future Voices Ireland.

“When I came home from Washington DC, I volunteered with the Belfast Interface Project (BIP) by preparing an evaluation survey of the organisation and writing a report based on the findings. My time at BIP was very rewarding as it gave me a greater understanding of the issues facing interface communities in Belfast, whilst allowing me to gain first-hand experience of the important work that is delivered by community groups at a grassroots level in the city. It was a privilege to volunteer with BIP and help contribute towards their goal of ensuring that communities living in interface areas across the city are not left behind as Northern Ireland continues its journey as a post-conflict society.”

Stuart Irwin

Class of 2016

Students are welcomed into the WIP Alum community and offered opportunities to continue their leadership development and community service as part of a network of over 600 people.

Following their service and advocacy projects, students will graduate from the Washington Ireland Program in May 2018.