Irish Aid Seminar in Limerick

These days, Dublin is in spring time with beautiful flowers blossoming everywhere and sun is out until 9PM. I have also finished most of my classes at school and been working for company project. My school is recruiting for MBA 2012. It is also the time when Irish Aid gathers all fellows, who receive scholarship from Irish Aid, at the headquarter of Irish Aid in Limerick.

Though I have been in Ireland for 8 months, this is my first time to visit the office of Irish Aid, my sponsor. At 7AM, I was ready at the office of ICOS (Irish Council for International Students) from which our bus headed to Limerick. It took us 3 hours by bus to travel from Dublin to Limerick.

Irish Aid Department of Foreign Affairs Riverstone House is located at 24 Henry Street in the centre area of Limerick. This is the second year that Irish Aid holds this event and it hopefully will become an annual event for fellows to meet up with each other and with Irish Aid staffs.

This seminar was to discuss key issues in the 9 partner countries (in white) and the areas Irish Aid is working on: Poverty and Hunger; HIV/AIDS and Health; Development; Environment; and Education. These focuses are delivered by three main programmes: Fellowship, IDEAS (Irish Development Experience Sharing) and Strategic Cooperation.

We are explained three reasons that Ireland gives aid to developing countries are Moral Obligation, Self-interest and International Commitment. Irish children are educated these values from primary schools. At the moment, the budget for Official Development Assistance is made up 0.53% GNP of Ireland. 15% of the budget for Vietnam goes into capacity building in IDEAS programme which aims to share lessons of Ireland’s economic and social development with Vietnam. Programme commenced in 2009.  Irish Aid does not directly train fellows, but they have partnership with UCD Smurfit Business School.

At the seminar, I represented for IDEAs scholars to give a short presentation about my capacity building from studying experiences in Ireland to other fellows, Irish Aid Staffs and the Minister of State for Trade and Development at the Department of Foreign Affair, Jan O’Sullivan T.D. It was a great chance for me to say thank you for my sponsor and Irish Aid staffs who contributed for creating the IDEAS programme. Moreover, I also had a great time with other fellows coming from Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia. They were a great audience who listened and laughed with me for every tiny thing I spoke. After that, they also hugged me, picked me up and complimented me about how passionate I was when I talked about the plane in the sky which used to carry a little girl’s dream; or about how intensive my MBA programme at UCD Smurfit Business School is; or about the environment I had with my MBA classmates.

Last but not least, by this seminar, I know that Irish Aid is trying hard to create the alumni network for fellows to connect with each other and with Irish Aid when they back their home countries. The annual seminar is also an important event to start that connection. They also presented the pity that this year most of IDEAS scholars could not make it. They hoped that in the future all of us would attend and contribute more actively in the alumni networking for Vietnam.

– Tham Nguyen