A group of American students studying international living are residing with families in Donegal Town.

The American students are studying Irish life and Irish subjects under the auspices of the Experiment for International Living. Understanding the people and culture of the country is best achieved by staying with a family and getting to know them. Donegal town was chosen as the first centre for the experiment as it is considered a good example of an Irish town.

The students living in Donegal are Amy from Fremont Iowa who is studying primary education, Paul from Roslyn New York, who is taking socialism in Ireland as his topic and Fred from Connecticut, who is studying the role of the priest and the position of the IRA in Ireland today. Heather from the Philippines and Diane from Mississippi are both studying rural life in Ireland.

Living in Donegal has not just taught the Americans about international living but also highlighted the differences between the Americans themselves. Amy, from a farming background, is finding it interesting to talk to Fred and Paul about living in big cities. But she identifies better with the people in Donegal as she can talk to them about their farms. Amy’s host family thought she would be very be loud but were relieved to find she fitted in very well with them.

On this point Heather comments,

I think everybody thinks Americans are very extroverted and very loud, you know, very rude.

Fred stayed with a host family with children and the mother of the family Mrs Caldwell, thinks the American students are more outspoken and knowledgeable than their Irish counterparts.

Paul stayed with a Donegal schoolteacher who found the Americans interested in politics and Northern Ireland in particular.

I think it would be fair to say they just didn’t know what was happening in the North, but the questioned a lot on the North.

Paul’s host brought three of the students to Derry and they likened it to an Irish Vietnam. Fred in particular was affected by the visit.

Derry itself looked very distraught.

Because of where he is from, Paul considers himself more liberal than the Irish. He finds women in Ireland less empowered, possibly because they leave education sooner than their American counterparts.

I would call Ireland basically, a male chauvinist country, it is maybe ten years behind the States.

While Paul’s host had previously never considered visiting America, the visiting students have given him an interest in the country.

If Paul and the rest of the kids are a good cross section of American youth, that’s fine with me.

On returning to America, in order to obtain their course credits, the students must present a project based on their field work and individual study.

This episode of ‘Tangents’ was broadcast on 1 December 1972. The reporter is Doireann Ní Bhriain. A miscellany of events, entertainment, opinions and personalities, ‘Tangents’ was first aired on Monday 25 September 1972 and ran until 1974.