What do you know about Ireland? Perhaps you have heard of its beautiful countryside or Irish beer or Irish Step Dancing? This year the Minnesota International Center in line with its goal of educating the community about different countries around the world honored Ireland. In a series of events throughout the year the culminated in a huge fundraiser benefit, MIC brought together Irish nationals, Irish Americans and Minnesotans whose interaction was as diverse from cultural exchanges to strengthen trade relations.
MIC President Carol Byrne described the MIC Gala Benefit thus, "It is a springboard for socializing while showing love for the MIC community and the country of the year. There is a strong Irish community here in the cities and it is MIC’s role to reach out to them."
This year’s fundraising saw MIC raise more than $140,000 in ticket sales, donations and the sale of auction items. Auctioned items included dinner with Irish diplomats in the US and holiday packages to Ireland. Karen Sorbo, former Mrs. Minnesota was the nights auctioneer working her way into the pockets of guests as she urged them on to purchase the packages. Guests were treated new Irish cuisine and Irish musicians with an ensemble that included some of the members of the original Irish River Dance.
Sean Farrell, the Irish Consul General, who was the guest speaker, commended MIC in its development and strengthening of trade relations between Ireland and Minnesota. He looked forward to a continued growth in this relationship. Lunch with him was one of the highlights of the auction.
MIC is the sixth largest world affairs council in the US. Each year, MIC puts together a gala benefit focusing on a specific country. Last year MIC’s highlight was Morocco. Other events leading up to this year’s gala included a literary session with artistic director of the Guthrie Theater, Joe Dowling. He spoke “about the significant contributions Irish playwrights had on the dramatic literary cannon with names such as George Farquhar, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan and Brian Friel.”
MIC annual programs include: world affairs forums, an international visitor leadership program, and international classroom connection program among others.