The new chair of Oakgrove Integrated College, Carmel Irandoust, begins a new chapter in the school’s history, as the first incumbent whose background is not from one tradition or the other, but from what she sees as ‘an integrated version of it all.’
A committed member of the Baha’i Faith, she embraces the tenet that “all faiths, all races, all backgrounds come from one and unique Source and that humankind should be viewed as one.”
Ms Irandoust brings a strong international dimension to the position, as a citizen of France who has lived and worked in Europe, North Africa, North America, with the United Nations, Latin America and Middle East.
Carmel sees her appointment as coming at a time of change.
‘The same way our region is going through massive shifts at the political level, our school, too, has been experiencing shifts,’ she explains.’2022 saw a new wave of board members, followed by a new principal and a new vice principal. And now, with a new person serving as chair.’
Ms Irandoust, who holds a M. Phil. in International Peace Studies from Trinity College is the founder and director of the consulting agency, NETLOVE. It aims to promote the values of Equality, Diversity, Love, Justice, and Peace by creating meaningful and thought-provoking spaces for schools, universities, and businesses. She also facilitates workshops for Irish Aid and is writing her first book, a spiritual travel log documenting her personal journey over the past twenty years.
Announcing the appointment, Oakgrove Principal John Harkin says:‘We are delighted to welcome a new Chair of the Board to Oakgrove. Carmel has already played a part in the life of the school and community, keen to continue the tradition of those who founded this school and continue to serve our integrated community. Carmel’s appointment means that our Board is Chaired by someone from France who represents one of our world’s minority religious communities, bringing diversity in national and religious backgrounds. Carmel will lead our school’s Governors, living out as she does so the integration which has always been her core belief. ‘
Ms Irandoust, too, stresses her conviction in the importance of integrated education as the foundation of a more inclusive, pluralist, peaceful society.
‘We are in this position today where we grasp the deep meaning that a child can be the light of the world or the darkness of the world- education alone can make it swing one way or another,’ she says. ‘A man I admired greatly and pray to regularly to inspire me is John Hume. He said of our young people, “You are the generation that will be leading in the new century and the new millennium, so the challenge is to make sure that your influence is used to ensure that the entire world learns that humanity transcends difference, that difference is indeed the very essence of humanity."’
‘For me,’ she concludes, ’the question is- what legacy do we want to leave for this school but also in the lives of our young people? Young people are the presents of today, and the builders of tomorrow. May we continue to dedicate the precious days of our lives for their well-being for, without them, our world will be lost.’
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Oakgrove Integrated College