Omaha Nebraska USA
Naas Youth Parliament Trip to Omaha Nebraska 2000
STATEMENT FROM THE YOUTH PARLIAMENT WITH REGARDS TO OUR TRIP TO OMAHA NEBRASKA
Our first impression of the people of Omaha was one of a very friendly nature. We were warmly greeted at the airport with flags and banners beaming our arrival. The Mayor of the city, Mike Fahey was amongst the first to greet us with a warm friendly smile and a firm handshake. The chairman of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians joined him, (an organisation that was formed to care for Irish immigrants on arrival to America). We were then introduced to the host families and then off for an adventure of a lifetime!
May we take this opportunity to thank all of our host families of who were exceptionally hospitable and kind. They made us feel as though we were true Nebraskans within minutes of our arrival. The background of each family was of a different nationality.
We found the city itself to be really clean and easy to get around. Most people there drive anywhere they want to go. The streets are laid out in the grid fashion so it would indeed be difficult to get lost.
We visited three schools. The first one we visited was Central. This is a mixed school with 2,800 pupils. The second one was Creighton Prep. This is an all boys' school that is run by the Jesuits. It has 980 pupils. The last one was Duschne. This is an all girls' school. We found the schools to be in immaculate condition.
There was no graffiti on any of the walls and the facilities were second to none. Despite the open relationship the students have with their teachers we found the discipline to be of a very high standard. We got on really well with all the students in the schools. We found them to be very open, friendly and enthusiastic. The students were of all different backgrounds and nationalities and all had the same bubbly enthusiasm. They seemed to mix in quite well with one another. They expected us to have red hair and rosy cheeks and were humoured to know that we have other hair colours in Ireland. The curriculum was quite unusual in that it was very broad. Subjects like social studies, Latin and drama were on the course. School begins at 7.30am and ends at 2pm. The sports there are segregated into three categories: Varsity, Junior Varsity and Reserve. These are not split by age level but by ability. So if you are a fifteen-year-old that is really good at football you could be on our equivalent of the senior team ie. the Varsity team. Among the sports played there are: basketball, (of which Creighton university did quite well in for the all American University championships in beating Florida in the first round), American football, wrestling and soccer but no GAA! What a pity as we were dying to show them a trick or two. There is more of an emphasis on playing for the school rather than for the club as is here in Ireland. People play for the clubs after they leave school. All in all we found visiting the schools quite enjoyable and informative as to the way the education system works in America.
The highlight of our tour was being made honorary citizens of Nebraska. This is the highest honour that can be given to any visitor of Nebraska. We were presented certificates at the city council on our last official day in the city. Very few people have been awarded this over the years. The certificates we received were all endorsed by the Mayor of Omaha and the Governor of the State. It was quite an occasion. We were also made Admirals of the, "Great Navy of Nebraska". Seeing Nebraska is an inland state this too was a prestigious honour. We have a plan to invade Canada soon and we will be returning to command our own vessels.
We feel with the twinning there are a lot of job opportunities for the people of Naas. With the openness and enthusiasm of the people of Omaha we are certain it would be a pleasure for anyone to work there.
Omaha will be setting up its own Youth Parliament soon. Currently there are student councils in each school. Mayor Mike Fahey is getting together a delegation to put down the foundations for this to happen. The Mayor was impressed with our way of doing things in Naas and wants to implement this in Omaha.
Our trip to Omaha was one of a lifetime. We thank all involved in making this happen among them, Mayor Willie Callaghan and Councillor Timothy Conway and Mayor Mike Fahey and James P. Cavanaugh. The above mentioned are but the select few that made it all happen. To mention all would be to write for an eternity.
The return journey will be made in late July where the people of Omaha will enjoy the experience of being in Ireland and mostly in twinning with our great town of Naas.