Mayor Colin McCusker welcomed two American teenagers and two of their Portadown friends into his Parlour this week as the result of a cross-community project between the town and Kansas, America.
Lauren Bretz and Maren Berblinger were the guests of local girls Lucy McCausland and Michelle Hamill, with the four having met in 2012 through ‘Project Ulster Kansas’ which saw 30 young people -15 Protestants and 15 Roman Catholics - from the town visit the city of Hutchinson, Kansas.
The friends have been reunited across the Atlantic after two years of messaging and skyping, with Lauren and Maren travelling the 4,000 miles to Portadown – and they saw quite a bit of Northern Ireland.
They went to the North Coast, visiting the Giant’s Causeway, then tucked into the obligatory fish and chips in Portrush and ended the day visiting Derry’s Walls.
A trip to Belfast for both shopping and a bus tour was enjoyable for both Northern Irish teenagers and Americans. Venues included the Victoria Square Shopping Centre and Titanic Quarter.
They were shown around the Civic Centre, including the Mayor’s Parlour by Councillor McCusker, and they explained to him about what the Kansas-Ulster Project was all about
Said Lucy, “The four of us have kept up a very strong friendship over the two years, which shows the success of the Ulster Project and how it continues to build relationships and friendships not only across the community in Northern Ireland but also miles apart.”