My name is Steven Hyland and I come from Newry Co.Down. This page is a brief history of my 2 month stay in Pittsburgh, PA.
I came over to America with a group of 18 young adults from both the north and south of Ireland. People of different ages and creeds, bonding together through the medium of education and work experience. Our training commenced back in Ireland on March 12, 2007 via the Monaghan and Portadown Partnership (MAPP), organisation funded by both the Irish and British Governments. The purpose of MAPP is to enroll young unmeployed people from both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic and to help train them various skills and attributes. Our particular course was IT based and we were trained in all aspects of Microsoft Word and Excel as well as non-IT related subjects (Social Dynamics) such as Diversity in Society and Understanding Discrimination and Prejudice.
I arrived in Pittsburgh on Friday 4th May for my 8 week work experience adventure both nervous and excited as to what exactly lay ahead of me. This was my first visit to America and I was unsure as to how I would react to the cultural differences I was to encounter.
Our group was split and we were put up with host families throughout the city. I and a guy from Ardee, Co. Louth, Anthony Ross, were put up with Marc and Melanie Holmes who reside in Dormont. Our stay there has been both pleasant and enjoyable.
Before we arrived in Pittsburgh, we were each designated work placements for 7 weeks to enable us to gather both training and experience in our chosen fields, mine being web design. I was placed here in WQED within the Interactive Department with my mentors being Mike Cuccaro, Joan Guerin and Jay Volk. Their combined expertise has stood me in great stead and their committment to my training here has been overwhelming.
Prior to my arrival at WQED, I knew little - if anything - regarding web design, and to be honest it was quite difficult to grasp at the start. But with the help of the Web team here I have steadily found myself becoming more comfortable and confident working on tasks that have been delegated to me.
Some of the tasks delegated to me at WQED included: transferring a static listing of recipes to a dynamic database-driven web page, creating a slideshow for upcoming broadcast events on the homepage, and updating radio events on a weekly basis,
The Group, as a whole, have participated in many social events within the city. Some of these events included; taking in a Pirates baseball game, ice skating in Mt Lebanon, a trip to Kennywood, an excursion to Sand Castle, bowling in the Strip District. I also spent a weekend in New York City, taking in some of the fine sights the city has to offer.
All in all my experience in US is one that I am thankful for and one that I will treasure. Despite the cultural difference between the two nations, I have been made feel welcome by my host family, my work colleagues and the general Pittsburgh people.
Special thanks to Marc, Melanie and Noah Holmes - your kindness and generosity will never be forgotten. To all the staff at WQED in particular Mike, Joan and Jay without whose help I could not create this web page. To Rob Tierney, Amy Boots, and Jim Lamb from the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh for their guidance throughout our stay. Last but by no means least, to our supervisor and mentor, Erin Crockard for all her hard work, dedication, advice and friendship throughout our journey both here in America and back home in Ireland. Thank you very much indeed.