New England College from New Hampshire, Greater Boston Area brought 12 students and 3 Professors to Tullycross, Renvyle, Co. Galway from 7th to 19th March as part of a global learning programme. The programme, ‘Live Local – Think Global’, sought to immerse students into a small village with a unique environmental and economic model.
New England College, which is a private, non-profit college, located in the quintessential New England town of Henniker, came to Tullycross as part of Connemara West’s innovative economic development strategy based around education-led tourism. This strategy invites colleges from the US to base their global learning experiences on the Wild Atlantic Way in North West Connemara.
Established in 1971 on foot of a local fundraising drive, Connemara West is a locally-managed community development organisation based in Letterfrack, Co. Galway which directly employs 28 people. Owned by 500 local shareholders, over the past half century it has consistently established pioneering projects in their time such as Connemara Community Radio, FORUM Connemara, The Furniture College (an educational partnership with GMIT) and Conservation|Letterfrack, which conserves and restores wooden artefacts.
Dr. Kevin Heanue, Chairman of Connemara West said “six years ago, underpinned by extensive market research, we began to develop this strategy based on education, heritage, the diaspora in the United States and niche tourism. By the end of 2017, 7 colleges from the states of Michigan, Maine, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and New Hampshire will be basing their global learning programmes in Tullycross”
Professor Kevin Cahill from New England College who led the New England College Programme remarked “our first immersion into the village of Tullycross exceeded all expectations on every level. The self-catering cottages created a unique campus. Dining within walking distance reduced stress and the quality of the food was brilliant. Access to lectures on key topics regarding economics, historical, cultural and environmental issues was seamless. Connemara West provided every resource needed to make this a truly enriching experience. The region abounds in amenities that add a true balance to the academic experience. The New England College Community was quickly woven into the fabric of Tullycross, which made this immersion truly memorable. We look forward to returning to Tullycross for years to come”.
The potential of this ambitious community-driven strategy is gaining recognition. In the Government’s action plan for rural development titled ‘Realising our Rural Potential’ launched earlier this year, Action 165 focuses on examining the potential to promote rural Ireland as the destination of choice for US colleges wishing to avail of a rural based learning or study abroad experience. Connemara West is the lead body for delivering that action.