Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spotlight on Aongus O' Donnell from Ardara, County Donegal, Ireland.

Three weeks ago, Aongus O’Donnell flew 3,000 miles from Ireland to join the team at Artists for Humanity in Boston for a six-week internship. Aongus came to the Hub through the Wider Horizons Program -- sponsored by the Irish Immigration Centre (IIC) and the Tyrone Donegal Partnership, designed to improve employment opportunities for young adults both in Ireland and abroad. Wider Horizons places young adults with host families in countries such as Canada, USA and Spain to cultivate their potential through work experience and learning about different cultures.

We had a chance to talk with Aongus about his experience thus far in Boston and at AFH and to get to know more about AFH’s newest addition with an Irish lilt in his voice.

AFH: Can you tell me more about the Wider Horizons program?
Wider Horizons program is a young adult development program that sends young adults to different regions all over the world to gain work experience and skills. Everything is paid for and we get a weekly allowance. The course I am taking is "Estate Management" exploring community development work, trying to break down barriers of race and religion and trying to help each other’s communities come together. It’s brilliant.

AFH: How did you pick Boston and more specifically AFH?
Ann Marie Byrne from the IIC interviewed us and asked what we were interested in. I’ve studied art at home and she suggested Artists for Humanity and I was very interested in working for AFH.

I had friends and family come here before for holidays so I always heard that there was a big Irish community here, and that basketball team – the Celtics.

AFH: What kind of art did you study?
Aongus: It was Foundation Art. When you finish high school, you go to college and do a year of foundation art – where you get a taste of all aspects of art from ceramics to photography, from life drawing to fashion and then you eventually focus your portfolio to apply to a college for second year in that discipline.

AFH: What do you think of Boston so far? What have you done?
Boston’s really cool. People are really friendly. They have good pubs [laughs]. There’s lots to do and see. It’s very clean. It’s really beautiful. We toured Boston, went to a Baptist Church with a Gospel Choir – it’s nothing like Mass at home. We went to Fenway Park and we are going to Six Flags, the Science Museum, the Aquarium, a breakdancing event that Yhinny [of AFH] is performing this Friday, and then even seeing a Mosque later.

AFH: What has been your favorite part of Boston?
Aongus: We did a Boston Duck Tour. That was good craic. We went to softball games. We couldn’t really understand it in the start, but we met some friends and watched the games. That was good fun. People were really friendly.

AFH: Good craic? What does ‘good craic’ mean?
It just means ‘good fun.’ It’s a common saying in Ireland.

AFH: What have you done so far at AFH?
Just helping out everybody. I’ve done inventory, inputting data on the youth here, taken measurements of a loft conversion for a wallpaper project that AFH is doing now, and making buttons for parties that will be held here. I’ve gotten a better understanding of what AFH is all about from talking to different mentors and youth who have all been very friendly and welcoming. Everyone seems to get along really well with each other and they seem like they can work together really well as a team. I’m looking forward to more challenges. I hear the word ‘excited’ around here a lot. They’re excited for new events, new ideas.

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