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In mid-October, ACYPL welcomed an 8-member delegation from Northern Ireland for an eight day exchange. Over the course of the program, the delegation visited Washington, DC and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The delegation was comprised of representatives from all 6 major political parties in Northern Ireland, and included two members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as a member of the Belfast City Council. The exchange was organized in partnership with the Assembly, which ACYPL has been working with for over 15 years.
The program in DC was focused on a variety of policy issues at the federal level. One of the highlights was an in-depth discussion about the US healthcare system and the ongoing debate over potential changes to the Affordable Care Act with DC Health Link. The delegates also met with the Executive Director of EMILY’s List, where they talked about the significant increase in women expressing a desire to run for elected office following the most recent US Presidential Election.
In Arizona, the delegation was wonderfully hosted by ACYPL alumna Beth Lewallen (US to South Africa & Namibia 2012 and China 2015) and learned about state and local politics from a wide array of other alumni, including Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan (Australia 2005), Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (Turkey 2003), and Arizona House Speaker J.D Mesnard (Vietnam & Myanmar 2014). Among the meeting highlights in Arizona was a panel discussion about legislative politics and the importance of bipartisanship with several ACYPL alumni who had all served in the Arizona House of Representatives.
One theme of the program was home hospitality. The delegation was treated to a reception at the Washington, DC home of the Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau, Norman Houston. During a dinner at the Phoenix, Arizona home of Fred DuVal (China 1984 and Romania & Hungary 2005) delegates had a fascinating conversation comparing and contrasting US and Northern Ireland politics with two Arizona State Representatives.
Although they had a very busy schedule of meetings, the delegates did have plenty of opportunities for cultural activities. In DC, they visited the National Archives, toured the US Capitol, and had the opportunity to visit the East Wing of the White House. In Arizona, they took an unforgettable helicopter tour of the Arizona Watersheds, visited the Heard Museum, toured the Mission San Xavier del Bac, and were given a special tour of the University of Arizona Mirror Lab, the only one of its kind in the world. After a very successful exchange, ACYPL looks forward to continuing its mutually beneficial partnership with the Northern Ireland Assembly.