A STUDENT from Spain is helping Larne Borough Council’s environmental services with water and resource management projects.
Arturo Fernandez Mendez, who is from Oviedo in northern Spain, has already mastered the local dialect and sits in on meetings between officials and councillors on environmental issues.
The 24-year-old who is studying mining engineering - specialising in geology, energy and environmental management - attended a reception sponsored by Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, where he joined 34 other students from 23 different countries who are on placement in Northern Ireland through the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) programme.
This year, 32 students from Northern Ireland are on IAESTE placements in 17 countries worldwide including: Brazil, Japan, China, India, Russia and Turkey.
Dr Farry said: “In an increasingly mobile global environment, it is essential that programmes such as IAESTE are used by young people from Northern Ireland, and beyond, to maximise their learning experiences and fully prepare them for the career challenges that lie ahead. It is essential that our students recognise the opportunities such programmes provide to not only enhance their employability but also to broaden the breadth of their social and cultural awareness.”
Arturo says he has been made to feel very welcome during his eight-week placement at the council, which ends in mid-September. When he is not working on projects which include an article for the local authority’s Sustainable Living magazine, the Oviedo University student likes to see the sights.
“I am very happy with Larne and with my colleagues at work,” he said. “They have helped me a lot with information and with my duties. They have shown me areas of beauty within Larne Borough and along the coast and included me in nights out to Belfast.”
Line manager Elaine Smith told the Larne Times: “Arturo has settled in very well since his arrival in July. His English is excellent and he is even coping with our local accent.
“His computer skills are very advanced and already he has made positive contributions to measuring and monitoring Council’s use of resources. Arturo is also learning and enjoying our lifestyle. At weekends he takes trips to Newcastle, Dublin and the Giants Causeway organised by IAESTE and during the week he enjoys walks with staff around the Larne area.”
Elaine added: “This is the third time Larne Borough Council has been involved with IAESTE. Last summer, we had a student from Germany and the year before from Canada. All of the students worked to a very high standard and were a benefit to Council during their time here.”