A warm welcome breaks the ice
Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor
Ten students and two chaperones from Northern Ireland’s North West Regional College spent the first full day of their Williamsport stay in the company of local hosts who made them feel instantly at home.
Kicking off an exchange visit that was years in the planning, Shannon M. Munro, Penn College’s vice president for workforce development, led an informal welcome in the Breuder Advanced Technology & Health Sciences Center.
The group prepares for its March 14 flight to Philadelphia in a photo provided by Bronagh Fikri (second from left, on hand for a proper sendoff). She is North West Regional College’s European and international projects officer, whose 2018 visit to Penn College ultimately led to the cultural exchange.
Munro shares what she does professionally, along with personal tidbits about cat care and her names' connections to Ireland.
The guests introduce themselves, passing a rubber chicken (provided by Cooley) as their conversational cue. NWRC student Kayla Mulvaney holds the chicken during her time to speak, telling of being born in New Jersey and moving to Ireland when she was a year old. An award-winner for her efforts to raise awareness and money for mental health, she was excited to fly over her native turf.
Bláthnaid Leonard (center), NWRC lecturer in health and social care, holds a captured “pink flag” (AKA a bandanna) as the visitors and Penn College students engage in team-building exercises on the Challenge Course. (Cooley, who helped coordinate the activity, is visible at left.)
Balancing a chilly, but sunny March day – not unlike the seasonal conditions in their homeland – the visiting students celebrate a successful ascension of the seesawing “Whale Watch” feature.
She was joined by six co-workers: Patrick Marty, chief government and international relations officer; Kyle A. Smith, senior executive director of college relations; Val A. Myers, dean of nursing and health sciences, and Sarah S. Moore, human services instructor, who provided overviews of their respective curricular areas; and Deb B. Wescott, manager of events and guest relations, and Rob Cooley, associate professor of anthropology/environmental science, who facilitated the group’s visit to the Fish Real Estate Leadership Challenge Course.
Seven human services & restorative justice students and a dental hygiene student also attended the welcome and accompanied the visitors to the Challenge Course.
Watch PCToday for more about the group’s visit, which runs through March 28, and will include immersion into the college’s hands-on instruction and enjoyment of much that the area has to offer.