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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
EIL via YouTube
host family awards

Carol Bergin came to Ireland on a homestay in 1970... and never left

EIL host families have been nominated for awards to mark the 50th anniversary of homestays.

CAROL BERGIN NOW lives in Ireland after coming here from the US on a homestay in 1970.

She told that she went to a host family in Kilkenny and that she’s still in touch with the family today.

Bergin, who was born in New York, met her husband Denis here and now lives in Offaly.

“We actually met because back then we were the only study abroad student group in Ireland”.

She said that she believes homestays give people an opportunity to experience a different way of life.

People have chance to see a different world to that that they live in.

EIL Intercultural Learning Ireland has been providing intercultural learning opportunities through a range of programmes including study abroad programmes for the past 50 years.

It’s an Irish not for profit organisation that provides programmes to about 2,000 people each year.

Over the past 50 years 36,000 people have been involved in EIL programmes coming to and from Ireland.

The first group to arrive in 1964 were from America and they lived with local families for their stay.

Bergin came here as the academic director on a homestay with EIL 44 years ago, speaking about her first impressions of Ireland, she said:

It felt like home, it really felt like home.

EIL commissioned a documentary in 1970 which featured Carol and her trip here:

EILIreland / YouTube

Host Family

Bergin then went on to become the National Director of EIL from 1975-1988.

Speaking about the host families, she said:

We’re not here to present a perfect picture, we’re here to give people a real taste of Irish life.

“You don’t get the PR spin of what Ireland is, we’re just trying to give people an idea of what things are really like”.

Every year hundreds of Irish families take part in the ‘host family’ programme, whereby they open up their homes to international students who come to Ireland to study and immerse themselves in Irish culture.

The length of the students stays varies from a few weeks up to a year.

As part of the 50th Anniversary of EIL Intercultural Learning Ireland ‘Host Family Awards’ will be held in Dublin today.

Lots of the families who are nominated have been hosting students for over 10 years and many of them stay in regular contact with those who have stayed with them over the years.

The Awards are on in Smock Alley Theatre this afternoon.

Read: Celebrating 50 years of bringing intercultural learning to Ireland>

Read: Venezuela’s youth are abandoning their homeland, Ireland is their destination>

Read: College fees to get cut for children of Irish emigrants>

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