Posts Tagged WIP

Happy 15th WIP

A proud moment

A proud moment

October 8th was a proud day for all of us who have – in one way or another – been fortunate enough to benefit from our association with The Washington Ireland Program for Service and Leadership (WIP) as it celebrated it’s 15th Birthday in Dublin.

It was a particularly proud day for me as a WIP Alumni (1997) as my employer, Accenture, agreed to co-sponsor the celebrations, our second Annual WIP Celtic Cup Golf fundraiser was a wonderful success at the K Club in Kildare and I was afforded the opportunity to join President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney in speaking from the stage to those attending the evening reception at Dublin Castle.

The Washington Ireland Program for Service and Leadership (WIP) is a unique, not for profit,  US-Ireland charity that is helping to prepare the next generation of young Public Service leaders from Northern Ireland, Ireland and, through it’s sister Program The South African Washington Ireland Program (SAWIP), South Africa. Starting off back in 1995 as a program exclusively about conflict resolution in Northern Ireland and restricted to a small number of NI students only, the program has matured into a broader international program addressing a wide range of issues which a new generation of leaders will be required to tackle.

Every year, WIP inspires and equips ~30 young people from Northern Ireland and Ireland and 6-8 from South Africa, who have distinguished themselves in their own communities (academically, socially, politically or through acts of Public Service), to lead.  It does this by offering scholarships on our Service and Leadership Development Program. Over the course of this 6 month Program each year WIP works with these young people to:

  •  Encourage and reward acts of active citizenship and Public Service in their own communities – required in order to gain acceptance onto/graduation from the Program
  • Expands their professional leadership skills by placing them in Political, Business and Social internships for 6 weeks in Washington DC each summer*
  • Creates an environment in which they are challenged to consider and develop the leadership skills (and conscience) necessary to address the real and immediate Public Service challenges of their generation – development of post conflict societies; economic recovery and sustainability; social exclusion/mobility; social enterprise; religious and cultural dislocation
  • Supports them in completing Public Service projects in the USA (e.g. a New Orleans clean up effort in 2007) and
  • Administers a Public Service leadership development training course during their Washington DC summer internship.

These skills are perhaps less fashionable/typical in a charitable sense but they are absolutely necessary and we should not be ashamed of investing in their development. I like  think of it as an act of supreme optimism (a gamble on inspiring future leaders) and investment in long term sustainability – sustaining Public Service and Leadership skills (and commitment) for the next generation. That’s an investment from which many others will in turn benefit – WIPs ‘power of multiplication’.

At a time when the idea of and need for “leadership” has never been greater across the globe, I am so proud to be associated with WIP.  We WIP Alumni are a very special and privileged group. Each of us has been provided with the gift of opportunity: the opportunity to learn; the opportunity to gain perspective and understanding; the opportunity to live with, work with and meet some of the most inspiring servants and leaders imaginable – our host families, our intern colleagues, our guest speakers, our WIP and SAWIP classmates. What we do with that opportunity is now up to each of us. Trust has been placed in us that we make good on the investment that has been made in us by the groups above as well as the WIP Board. What we do next determines the direction and meaning of this Program.

At a time when we face some unprecedented challenges on a local and global scale: challenges of economic recovery and development, social mobility, international conflict; energy provision and sustainability; rising nationalism and associated racism…….I think WIP asks all of us associated with it this question: 

 “If I am not for myself then who will be? But if I am only for myself – who am I? And if not now – when?’

That’s a question we must continue to ask – at home and abroad.  Happy Birthday WIP. Here’s to 15 more.

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