I remember getting the day I got the call. I was in a hospital all day, and in the morning, a friend had messaged me saying “HAVE YOU GOTTEN AN EMAIL”. I scrambled to get my phone, and checked my emails. Nothing. I was beginning to doubt myself. “They’re probably emailing the people who’ve got it, first. It’s usually the easier part of the job” I thought. One by one, each of the few friends I made at the interview day were messaging me, wondering if I’d gotten the same email they did. On the way home, I had stopped thinking about it, and I had just accepted my fate of not going on the Youth Activist award. Suddenly, my phone rang, and the caller ID indicated the call was coming from Cork. (I genuinely asked my mum if she knew anyone from Cork because I for some reason couldn’t put the puzzle pieces together.) To my delight, I answered my phone and it was EIL. I was going on the Youth Activist award. My mum and I began to scream. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life. 

I was so lucky to be able to go on an award with EIL. It’s such an amazing opportunity for young people to have their voice heard at an international level. There’s so much support for all the young people involved, too. We had our amazing mentor and liaison, Jorge, who not only helped us through the entire travel process, but became someone we’d all consider a great friend. We also had the support from previous EIL explore award winners, who were only an email away, available to answer any questions or talk about any concerns we had. One of the support methods that stand out to me is the pre-departure weekend we attended in May. It was a great opportunity for us to get to know other explore award winners, while also learning more about what we’d be doing while we were away, what we should bring, the culture, etc. 

The day we began our travels was probably one of the most exciting days of my life. We all met up really early in Dublin Airport, and made our way to our first flight to Iceland. After getting a brief glimpse of the land of fire and ice, we flew to Boston, where two of our absolutely phenomenal leaders collected us and drove us to Brattleboro, Vermont. I remember thinking about how lucky and thankful I was, to be  able to represent Ireland in the U.S at 17 years old. 

After our late arrival, We woke up and met our leaders. I can honestly say that the people I met were some of the most supportive, open-minded and intelligent people ever. That morning, we went strawberry picking, and helped prepare for the arrival of the American students. It was extremely exciting. We helped the Americans to their rooms, and I can safely say it was the beginning of the best two weeks of my entire life so far. I can’t express enough how amazing and open-minded the people at the Governor’s Institute were, and the friends I made will stay with me all my life. Every single person was so accepting and supportive. Everything about Governor’s Institute was fantastic; the people, the leaders, the course! I did my module in “Identity, Racism and Privilege”, something I’m now extremely passionate about, and was able to bring home, to help create more support in my community for people in minority groups. The entire experience has made me so much more self-aware, and the experiences and friends I gained will stay with me forever.


Youth Activist- Darragh McBrearty 2019