Published: February 23rd 2012February 23rd 2012
Last week was midterm break at Calderstones Secondary School, so Lindsay and I packed a change of clothes and flew 30 minutes to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Last summer, I went to Dublin, Ireland. I found Belfast to be a very different experience. While Dublin was a bit of a tourist trap, Belfast was authentic and filled with recent history. The city is known for its terrorist activity during “The Troubles” from the 1960s into the 1990s. Once a dangerous city to walk around in, I could sense the city is beginning to breathe freely once more. Within an hour of arriving, Lindsay and I ran into two tour guides of the city who greeted us saying “Welcome to Belfast, it’s the home of the friendliest terrorists!” I was unsure if I was supposed to laugh or feel uneasy at this unusual welcome. We ended up making good friends with the two older gentlemen, who over the course of the next three days told us their experiences during “The Troubles.” One was a loyalist and one was a nationalist. 20 years ago the two men would never have spoken to each other, now they are best friends. It was incredible to listen
to their testimony about how hate has been replaced with hope for the future.
While spending time with them, we saw the peace murals that have been painted across the wall that separates the Shankhill and the Falls road to keep the Protestant and Catholics away from each other. Murals that support terrorists groups still cover the walls around the city. Many people are campaigning to remove the murals now that peace has come to Belfast. I can understand why parents do not wish for their children to grow up looking at paintings with guns and hate messages across them. Terrorists are often talked about in the States, but it is in reference to the Middle East and Islam. Northern Ireland is a reminder that terrorist activities are not confined to Islamic traditions, but they have plagued the history of Christianity as well, even in the recent years.
While in Belfast, we also took a day trip through Northern Ireland to the Giant’s Causeaway, rock formations that formed in hexagon shapes. The ride through the country side and the sea shore was beautiful. While I love learning about the history of different cities here in Europe,
Bobby Sands mural
This Mural is the most photographed mural in the world
I learn just as much observing the way in which people live in the surrounding areas.
This week I have not been back at Calderstones full time. Instead, I have been taking some lectures with other history student teachers at Liverpool Hope and teaching a few lessons at school. This has been a great experience to meet other students who are in the middle of student teaching too. Since I am not at Hope, I do not have the community of my fellow peers in the Education Department to support me. The students I have met here have been very warm and welcoming to me and we have had some great discussions about the differences between the British and American school systems. I will continue to attend lectures with them through next week.
In two weeks, I start teaching full time. I am very exciting to start teaching lessons to the year 12s (11th
graders). It will be great to get more experience with the older grades as well as the younger ones. I am about half way through my time here. It is going very quickly, but I love every minute of it. I saved
the best semester of college for last.
There are more photos below