More than 200 former International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) students are gathering in Northern Ireland this week.

The diamond anniversary of the European alumni of IFYE will be celebrated at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise Greenmount campus in Co. Antrim.

Attendees will venture to all corners of the province during the week with visits to farms, tourist spots and diversified rural enterprises planned.

The peacebuilding programme began as a post-war project to promote international understanding.

The first exchanges were between the United States and European countries. Ballywalter Young Farmers’ Club patron May McAdam MBE was among the intrepid group of young Europeans who made the first trip across the Atlantic.

Today, 225 members of the European IFYE Alumni from 19 countries who have all experienced rural life in foreign parts will meet in Northern Ireland for their 2018 European conference.

A trip to Belfast will include a stopover at St George’s Market and the chance to visit the world-famous Titanic Centre. On other days delegates will journey to Derry and the scenic north Antrim coast.

Fun sessions include team games based on the ‘Crystal Maze’ and the IFYE take on the Lisdoonvarna Festival.

On a more serious note, future plans of the organisation and how it can play a positive role for today’s young people building lasting friendships with like-minded people across the world will also be discussed at the AGM.

'Showcasing Northern Ireland'

Secretary of the organising committee Avril Herdman said the committee had been working hard to organise a programme which would showcase the best of Northern Ireland.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming delegates from across Europe and to demonstrating the hospitality Northern Ireland is famous for,” she said.

“Our aim is for people to leave wanting to tell their friends and family what a great time they had here and encourage them to visit here or make a return trip themselves”.