Monday, May 31, 2010
Food is perhaps the most universal way that people express gratitude, love, and a whole plethora of warm fellow-feelings. Since I am offered tea and biscuits at least three times a day, I can only assume that Northern Irish people have a lot of love to give. On Friday, when Mike and I arrived at work at the Credit Union of Lisburn PSP (Prisoners Support Project), Sharon greeted us with blueberry muffins and told us to ease into our short work day.
That's another thing -- the pace is so refreshingly different here. The people I'm working with clearly care about their work, but they don't rush from meeting to meeting. They also aren't persnickety -- Joanne, my officemate says. At first, I was concerned that I don't possess skills that are relevant and useful to my placement with the Lisburn PSP and LaganView Enterprise Centre. Then I found out they wanted me to write a sort of evaluation report on the community centre where I'm working and my first thought was, I have no idea how to do that. I don't have any experience with business or consulting! But this week I learned that I can and if I actively develop my newfound skill, I will be able to contribute in a meaningful way to this program.
But back to FOOD. Mmmm. Today I was hanging out with Ruth, the manager of Farset International (the hostel where we're living), and we were figuring out how to upload photos to her Facebook. Having just returned from the gym, I realized that I only had canned beans to quiet the rumbling sounds my tummy was making. Without missing a beat, Ruth insisted that I have some of the stew she made from scratch yesterday. Her offer was music to my ears. After devouring the whole bowl, I felt full (hehe) and so grateful for a home-cooked meal.
Our wonderful long weekend included a group trip to Derry and the Continental/International Market in Belfast and now another week is about to begin. Will write again soon!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
I will give a more complete update on all of the happenings this past week has brought, but I didn't want to seem like I was neglecting you all (sidenote: I have been saying y'all way too often recently...SCARY).
Our group is off to Derry/Londonderry (termed Stroke City for attempting to be neutral in its name) in about 10 minutes!!! A two-hour trip to the northwest and we will soon be learning about the city's history, particularly about Bloody Sunday. Look it up and then read this short article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/bloody-sunday-report-to-be-published-on-15-june-1983918.html
My director passed this article onto us and it will be interesting to be here when the report is released on June 15th...
Apologies that this is so quick and rushed -- more to come soon. CHEERS!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
But above all these colorful murals is a 30-foot high wall -- a reminder that Belfast still remains a city divided and not at peace. The director of Healing Through Remembering reminded us yesterday that ignoring the past is not the way to heal. HTR firmly believes that forgetting can be as detrimental to the healing process as it is difficult.
On Monday, we begin work. But much of our work has already begun -- we have started to understand (albeit in small ways) what challenges still face the communities in Belfast.
Friday, May 21, 2010
(photo by Mike Fritz)
Because the terminology is a wee bit confusing at first, I will explain/define a few terms to the best of my knowledge.
- Republican and Loyalist are terms used exclusively in the context of paramilitary groups, who were active during the years of the Troubles. Most of these paramilitary organizations decommisioned after the peace aggreement was signed in 1998 (Good Friday Agreement), but some only recently handed over their arms -- even within the past year. Bascially, you only use Republican/Loyalist in relation to those who support armed struggle as a means to their end.
- Nationalist and Unionist are related to political agendas/persuasions. Nationalists tend to support the complete independence of the state of Ireland from the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland), while Unionists want N. Ireland to remain a part of the UK and separate from the Republic of Ireland.
Hmm...I set out to describe the past two days in Belfast and managed only to cover approximately 3 hours. Thus, I will be posting frequently over the weekend to update you more... Expect many more photos!
Friday, May 14, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I am sitting on my (sister's) bed at home in California, contemplating the reality that time really can escape. Looking at my archive, you'll see that my last blog post was dated November 2009, but don't throw up your hands in submission to the inevitable demise of another forgotten blog! The truth, which is written eloquently by Andy in the Shawshank Redemption, is that "no good thing ever dies." Although it has gone without updates for many months, this blog was never far from my mind. As I have told some of you, I consciously abstained lest this blog become too much like a journal, particularly during the difficult few months after breaking my foot. Admittedly, inertia took hold at some point and, well, here we are 6 months later.
For the next couple of months, this blog will mostly be dedicated to anything/everything relating to my 2-month summer of service in Belfast, Northern Ireland through the DukeEngage program. More details to follow...very soon!