My name is Paul Hyland, I’m 17 years old and from County Mayo and I have been involved with Foróige for the past 5 years. My time in Foróige has been super and this is for one simple reason, I got totally involved. There are chances for young people everywhere and you might hear some people say that there is nothing to do in Foróige bar the discos but I know this is one of the biggest myths out there regarding Foróige. By just simply putting your name forward for different programmes and committees you can get involved with people from across the county, country and the entire globe!
During my first year in Foróige I was your average young, cheeky hell-raiser mad to go to the discos! In second year I put my name forward for my committee in my local club and was elected as Secretary. I was given the opportunity to decide what we did as a club, what discos we went to and what other events we organised. We went to the cinema together, to soccer competitions and on weekends away.
When you are a member of a committee you get to go to the Regional Conference which for us was 2 days and a night away in Killary adventure centre so I was at that twice and that was unreal and I met so many people. From that I was elected to the Reference Panel which is made up of people from all over the country so I made loads of new friends. After the Reference Panel I heard of the Albert Schweitzer Leadership for Life Conference, a programme about leadership that’s attended by 300+ people from all over the world. I have attended this programme twice, two summers in a row in NUI Maynooth in Kildare and each time we spent a week living on campus and having an epic time, in addition to gaining valuable leadership skills and hearing from interesting speakers who have been leaders in their own right. My first week at ASLFL was quite possibly the best week of my life.
[Watch Paul play a game of Nintendo DS with Joanne O'Riordan at ASLFL 2012]
I have one more module to do and if I complete that I can graduate from NUI Galway with a Foundation Certificate in Youth Leadership and Community Action. Something that I have realised during my time in Foróige is that even though people may come from different parts of the world whether its 5 miles down the road or 500 miles on a plane we all think the same, have the same worries, ambitions, hopes and dreams just that some may be a bit different depending on religion or culture but we all have the same aspirations in life.
The main thing Foróige has given me is confidence. Due to my time in Foróige I feel confident in any situation and can easily speak in front of huge groups of people or sing chronically as a joke. I also have so many great friends, memories and connections that I never ever could have had were I not involved in Foróige. Foróige is not just good for making friends, connections, developing you as a person, getting the shift (!!!), it is also brilliant for your personal and career development. There are lots of reasons why you should join Foróige like I’ve already mentioned so if you want new friends, memories, experiences, a great CV and new skills, join Foróige. I know I’m glad I did!