Ulster Project aims to bridge segregation gap

By Chris Swick
July 16, 2015

Throughout the month of July, six McPherson and Moundridge teens are playing host to eight counterparts from Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Project has been a staple of summer in McPherson County since 2003, and Jessica Maye is one of the Northern Ireland teens and has ties to not only McPherson, but the project's inception in 1975.

“My aunt, my mom's sister, was involved in the very first Ulster Project,” Maye said. “And my brother did it three years ago and he was hosted in McPherson. And then I applied for it and happily got picked.”

Cameron Clark is one of the McPherson County teens who is acting as host while the Irish teens are in America. He says it's been fun to see the group bond over the last two weeks.

“And it's also been really cool to know I'm a part of this greater purpose to bring unity to the two societies in Northern Ireland that are so segregated right now,” Clark said.

That segregation has become the focus for the project, which started in 1975 as a response to the violence in Ireland between Protestants and Catholics.

“It really has evolved into something that deals more with segregation and building leaders for the future,” Allie Miller, who is a McPherson counselor for project, said. “We have some teens from Northern Ireland that live fairly close to each other but, because of the segregation at schools and sports, they probably would never meet. This gives them a chance to come together and have relationships and friendships they may not have otherwise had.”

You can find out more about the Ulster Project of McPherson County and Portadown Northern Ireland by going to facebook.com/mcphersonulster.