German Ambassador visits Coláiste Bríde
THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SCHOOL’S CULTURAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMME IS CELEBRATED
THE German Ambassador to Ireland, her Excellency Frau Deike Potzel, has visited Coláiste Bríde in Enniscorthy as part of the 10-year anniversary celebrations of the school’s Student Language and Cultural exchange programme with Gymnasium Bruckmühl - which is located near Munich in southern Bavaria, Germany.
Ms Potzel was accompanied at the school by her embassy colleague, Frau Cornelia Lück, and they were welcomed by staff members including Principal Kiera O’Sullivan.
The ongoing exchange between the two schools has been run under a theme of ‘enriching minds and connecting hearts’ and Ms O’Sullivan struck a key note on the day by welcoming the visiting dignitaries ‘auf Deutsch’.
She also welcomed visiting German exchange students and their teachers to the Model County and afforded them a particularly warm welcome to Enniscorthy.
She praised the work of the exchange leaders in both schools, Maria Whitty-Sexton (in Coláiste Bríde) and Christian Buxot (in Germany), and complimented them for their ‘immense effort and consistent hard work’.
Ms O’Sullivan also acknowledged the enthusiasm and impeccable behaviour of the participating students and the vital support of their parents over the 10 years of what she described as a ‘remarkable cultural experience’.
Sixth year student Kathlyn McVeigh spoke glowingly, in fluent German, of her time on the exchange and highlighted how it benefited her.
She emphasised the value of the enduring friendships she made during that time and told her fellow students that the connection between the schools through language and culture had inspired her to work hard in the hope of pursuing a career in international relationships.
Frau Anne Hieber spoke next, on behalf of Gymnasium Bruckmühl and her colleagues, Uli Bruns and Susanna Hainke. She paid tribute to the value of the strong cultural bonds that have been forged between the two schools since 2008.
Her speech was also humourous as she presented the student population in Coláiste Bride with accounts of the numerous cross-cultural meetings over the years.
Stand-out moments for her and her colleagues were the spontaneous eruptions of songs from Coláiste Bríde students in various parts of Munich City Centre in addition to the excitement caused by the appearance of German teenage boys around the corridors of Coláiste Bríde.
Former school pupil and current UL languages student Kate Hall spoke about her time studying in Leipzig and also of her forthcoming language trips to Argentina and France.
Ms Hall credited her time in Coláiste Bríde for developing her love of languages.
When Ms Potzel addressed the room she acknowledged the importance of both schools in developing close links over the last decade. She also highlighted the long-term benefits of such extra extra-curricular cultural enrichment programmes.
A spokesperson for Coláiste Bríde said: ‘Our students were reminded of the ever-present need for global diplomacy when Frau Potzel spoke of her own career in the German Foreign Service.’
‘Acknowledging the worrying political and economic backdrop of Brexit, her Excellency stressed the need to focus on our importance and value as close EU partners,’ said the spokesperson.
Ms Potzel also gave the local students examples of practical benefits of studying German in Irish schools - especially given the current shortfall of German speakers in the Irish workforce.
The Coláiste Bríde spokesperson said the ambassador confirmed that ‘at the highest political and cultural levels our efforts are appreciated’.
‘She also confirmed that the opportunities offered by the exchange are worthwhile and that they matter,’ she said.
What was also very apparent during the visit was Ms Potzel’s obvious respect and fondness for Ireland and Irish culture.
‘Her inspiring words mirrored perfectly the same sentiment felt by our German colleagues in the room,’ said the school spokesperson.
After the formalities the Ambassador accompanied this year’s exchange partners to lunch in the school’s Activity Room - after which she was entertained by a wonderfully energetic Irish dancing performance at Coláiste Bríde’s annual ‘Moktoberfest’.
‘It is rare to have a visit from a member of our own Government in Coláiste Bride so when the German government singled us out for special attention we embraced the honour with delight,’ said the spokesperson.
‘Our visit from the German Ambassador is truly one we will treasure in Coláiste Bríde and long may our efforts in enriching minds and connecting hearts continue,’ she added.
Exchange students pictured with Her Excellency, Frau Deike Potzel, German Ambassador to Ireland, Principal Kiera O’Sullivan and Maria Whitty, German Exchange Co-ordinator,at Coláiste Bríde.