On the first day of the new year, Liam McInnes is already thinking about the year ahead.
The 22-year-old is a member of the first group of Irish students to go to Qatar, joining a group of 20 others who are in the country for two-year trips.
The aim is to make the country a hub for Irish international students.
“I’ve had a really hard year.
I’m looking forward to this trip and I’m hoping to make a real impact on the Irish international student community,” he says.
He wants to make it a point to attend the Al Jazeera English conference in Qatar in November and to speak at the Qatari-led regional summit on global education in November.
He is already planning his own trip to Australia next year.
“It’s going to be a really tough year, it’s been a really long year,” he explains.
“The UK is looking really good, but I think Ireland is the worst in the UK.
McInneys family and friends have helped to organise the trip. “
We’re hoping to have a strong impact, but it’s not going to go without cost.”
McInneys family and friends have helped to organise the trip.
His father, a teacher at a school in Dublin, has helped organise accommodation for the group, which includes a friend from Ireland and an American studying in Qatar.
McInns father, who has worked as a teacher in Ireland for more than 20 years, is also organising the group’s itinerary.
“They’ve got a big budget and they’re going to put on a fantastic show for the Irish students,” he admits.
“But I’m also looking forward for my Irish students.
It’s a privilege to go.
It doesn’t matter where I go, whether it’s to America or Europe.
I’ve had many experiences and I’ve learned so much.”
McIngnes has already travelled to Qatar to meet with various international figures including the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the Qatar President, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
He hopes to speak with US President Barack Obama and his administration.
“My job now is to work with the US, I’m not here just to make friends.
I want to be there to make sure that we can continue to get a better education for all of our people,” he adds.
The group will also meet with the Irish Prime Minister and Irish ambassador to Qatar.
“When you’ve got Irish people who are looking to do something like this, it really means a lot to them.
I can’t wait to get out there and see what happens,” he concludes.