At Ruth Lemmon’s Santa Clara home on the evening of Sept. 1, Irish high school students and members of the Santa Clara Sister Cities Youth Commission dined on Tex-Mex fare. As Lemmon and her helpers moved around in the kitchen, the teens helped themselves to chicken and beef fajitas, rice, beans and tortilla chips with cheese dip, guacamole and salsa. On a table was a frosted white rectangular cake showing both Irish and American flags.
“The Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), headed by John Hartnett, organized a [Young Innovators contest] for high school students [in Ireland]; the competition this year required teams to invent something that would be useful in 50 years,” says Lemmon, vice president, Limerick of the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association. “Seven students won. Their prize was a trip here to Santa Clara Valley. When I heard about the students winning the contest, I thought it would be nice to have the Irish high school students here for a social evening with some Santa Clara teenagers.”
According to Helen Hartnett, wife of John Hartnett, Irish airline AeAer Lingus sponsored the flights for the winning group and ITLG paid for other costs associated with the trip.
Irish student Sophie Petticrew,17, explained that the competition entailed a one-day event at Ireland’s Shannon Airport back in April. The winning team formulated the idea for a chip that could be implanted into one’s arm to measure blood pressure, pulse and blood sugar levels. When it detects abnormalities, the chip would alert the user on their mobile phone or computer.
“We went to visit Intel today and it was amazing to see how technology has developed in the last few decades,” Petticrew says. “I’d like to go down the business route of technology someday. I get the impression that this is the place of opportunity.”
The other visiting Irish students were Kate O’Sullivan, Jayme O’Sullivan, Matthew Keating, Aoife Crimmins, Holly Dunlea and Charlotte Merriman. The chaperones were Sean Boyce and Emer Magee, teachers at St. Patrick’s Comprehensive School in Shannon, located in County Clare, Ireland. The visiting students attend school here.
Magee teaches accounting and business studies to high school students. She was particularly excited about her group’s upcoming visit to San Francisco and tour at Google, located in Mountain View.
“I’ve seen Google in the movies and I want to see it in real life,” Magee says.
“I want my students to see the opportunities available to them. I want them to know what the competition was able to create for them.”
Prabhjot Gill, 17, a senior at Santa Clara High School and youth president of the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association, was excited to exchange Instagrams and play Minute to Win It games with her new Irish friends.
“One of the biggest things about this event is being able to break barriers that people have of each other, in terms of stereotypes people might hold about those from other countries,” Gill says. “We learn that we’re the same.”
On Oct. 16,the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association will host its annual BBQ lunch at the Elks Lodge on 1680 Martin Ave. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about ticket sales.