From March 24th to 27th 40 Norwegian and Swedish students and 5 teachers visited Waterford City on the invitation of Ciaran Cullen CEO (Acting), Waterford City Enterprise board. The students are studying a 3-year entrepreneurship program, this is the student’s 3rd and last year and the Irish visit is the highlight of their year.
A full itinerary was planned for the group including visits to Waterford City enterprises, WIT, historical venues such as the Medieval Museum and on Tuesday March 25th they attended a private morning seminar. Held at the Garden Room in the Medieval Museum, the seminar included talks by Eamonn McEneaney, Director of Waterford Treasures, Ciaran Cullen CEO (Acting) Waterford City Enterprise Board and the Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland, Roald Næss on Irish/Norwegian trade relations over the 1,100 years that Waterford has been a city.
This is the fifth year Waterford City Enterprise Board has hosted a Norwegian student group. Ciaran Cullen emphasised the importance of the visit, “We have spent a number of years developing friendships with Norway and hosting student groups. This is the second year Swedish students have also travelled.”
“The total numbers have doubled in size in the past three years, which I believe is a testament to the success of the relationship. Our approach to enterprise development is a good example to the students and their enterprise teachers, and we have much to learn from them also” Mr. Cullen added.
The group took particular interest and learned much from visiting some of the Enterprise Board’s clients. These included a trip to the Kite Studios, Spraoi and Emerald Crystal where they learned how local enterprises start, grow and competed on a national and international stage. The most fun had to be the visit to WIT and TSSG were they partook in a ‘start your own business’ Pizza game, discovering the pitfalls and various stages of business growth.
Norwegian teacher, Anne Karin Sveinall described the importance of the visit, “I am delighted we have made this study visit a permanent fixture for our 3rd grade entrepreneurship class. Ireland is in many ways similar to Norway, it is a small country with about 5 million inhabitants. Our students need to learn that Norway is a small country on the edge of Europe, and we depend heavily of the rest of Europe and the world. Many Norwegians seem to think that we will get along fine on our own because of the oil; this is definitely not the case. Not many have been to Ireland before, so this will open their eyes to what Ireland has to offer.”
The group returned home on Thursday March 27th, tired from a full schedule but having learned much about Ireland and Waterford City’s entrepreneurial challenges and skills.