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Study USA for John Conlon


Study USA for John Conlon


The Impartial Reporter newspaper in Enniskillen has reported on a College student, John Conlon, who will study in the USA this coming year.

Trainee teacher to give US lesson in Irish music and food

Fermanagh has a new ambassador to the United States. John Conlon will bring Irish culture and way of life to America and bring back a bit of their culture and business acumen. The 21-year-old student teacher from Tempo Road, Maguiresbridge, is packing his bodhran to give the Americans a flavour of Irish music - and his grandmother's recipe for boxtie to give them a taste of Irish cuisine!

And they can't wait to get their teeth into both.

"They have been in contact with me already and I haven't even got there," he says.

John, son of Ann and the late William Conlon, is one of 75 students from Northern Ireland selected to take part in the Study USA Programme. He leaves on August 22, and will spend the next academic year studying business at Albright College in Pennsylvania. It will be a major departure from St Mary's University College in Belfast where he is studying to be a primary school teacher.

It was at St Mary's that he learned of the American opportunity and attended an information evening.

As John points out, it is so competitive when it comes to getting a job these days, "especially in teaching", and he thought the American experience would open more doors, provide him with different expertise and the chance to experience a different culture.

John was selected through a comprehensive selection process. He was then matched with the college he thought would benefit him the most and began packing his bags for Pennsylvania. He'll be the first Irish student to walk the campus and bunk down in the dorms at Albright in seven years. He believes the College hopes he'll give its students a different perspective.

As Patrick Black, one of the organisers, explains: "In addition to his studies John will also complete a number of projects required for successful completion of the programme and act as a representative for Northern Ireland by delivering five ambassadorial presentations."

John says: "I'm looking forward to the challenge of being able to get up and take part in classroom discussions and debates."

And as someone who is "big into Irish traditional music" he's also looking forward to introducing the American students to his bodhran

In addition he will be giving presentations on various aspects of life here including the food.

"Granny showed me how to make boxtie," he smiles.

"I believe it is important that I not only 'share' Northern Ireland with the people I meet in the US but that I also share my own new experiences with those back home so that I can raise awareness of American culture, and also the Study USA Programme, in my local community," he explains.

So the former pupil of St Mary's Primary School, Maguiresbridge, St Comhghall's College, Lisnaskea, and St Michael's College, Enniskillen, will be sending back his own Letters from America to readers of The Impartial Reporter.

"I believe that participation on this programme will offer great insight into the education system of America as well as cultural and social differences, or indeed similarities, all of which I would like to share with my home community of Fermanagh," says John.

And he has already learned one lesson, that we don't necessarily share a common language!

"I leave for the US in mid-August 2011 and already it has become apparent through speaking with some of my future American classmates through social networking sites that the language will probably be one of the first of many major differences that I will encounter," he laughs.

"I hope that I can share this experience with my local community at home and provide them with an insight into the adventure and mystery which are ahead of me this year. Hopefully this will give readers from both the younger and older generations an idea of the opportunities programmes like Study USA can open up for a small-town boy like myself," says John.