Friday, December 3, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
But i digress back to Derry for the time being. Lately we have been going to different events and meetings and not to mention working in our work placements. currently i am working at the peace and reconcilliation group which is an orgnaisation devoted to public relations in the community and organizing "cross community" events that have both members of the protestant and catholic communities present in order to get a better understanding of each community. The project that i have been working on a lot is called "Let's Talk Politics" and was held in the guild hall in Derry last week. What we did was have 104 students from 9 different Secondary/Grammer schools in the area(Those are High Schools) come in and get the opportunity to speak with politicians from all of the parties of parliament. it was really cool from my perspective because i was calling politicians all the time and trying to get them to attend our event which is a lot harder than it would seem. I felt important as by the end of the programme most of the politicians had been in personal meetings with me and knew me by name. Not to mention that the Mayor and I are close friends now and have seen each other probably 10 times in the last 2 weeks.
Speaking of the Mayor, the other evening we did our Irish Dance and Irish Tin Whistle performance for him as well as our host families in the Guild Hall. It was an overall good time as we got to show off our new skills(or lack of skills) and everyone had a good laugh and overall just good Craic(Craic is a general word for fun/fellowship. oftentimes when someone greats you they ask "What's the Craic" which means something along the lines of what has been going on?)
Last weekend we were at Corrymeela for one last time to get all together as well as time to reflect on our experiance here and to do reviews with our programme director. While we were there we went on a day trip together to see a Fairy Tree which is a magical tree that the people of Ireland are afraid of because of it's aura and the legends that surround them. when we asked our programme director if we could go hike and touch the tree which was surrounded by a wall that was made to protect it and keep people away from it our director looked at us very seriously and said "Don't! I have never known anyone who has not had something happen to them after doing such a thing. I have heard of people who have cut Fairy Trees down and later had their arm cut off or that they were struck down with illness." So touching the tree then seemed like a bad idea.
We then went to Cushenden and walked along the beach for a while and found some swans that were fun to look at. after the beach we went to this national park and walked down this trail where there were a lot of waterfalls. it was really fun and cool and i even at one point stuck my head into a little trickle of water running down the rock wall which was really really cold. i mean freezing!!
We then went back to Corrymeela and got ready for our fancy night out at the Causway Hotel with a nice dinner. I ate entirely too much food and don't regret it at all! after which we went out to the town of Ballycastle and went out to a pub to celebrate my housemate's and another girls birthdays that were that weekend. we all had a good time and just enjoyed everyone's company and the evenings activities.
Well I guess this is it for now as I really haven't updated in a long time. But i will for sure update again before i leave for Greece and hopefully will be able to as well on my trips around the continent!!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I promise to update(with photos) of our trips to Dublin and Belfast that we took the last week but for now i am just going to post this link to a report that was shown on BBC last night that Josh and I watched about the Disident Republican groups that are a threat to the peace process here in Northern Ireland and specifically they talk about what has been happening here in Derry/Londonderry. This is what we are really learning about here. this what what we are trying to understand and get our heads around. this is why we are here, to better understand why this is happening. The Bomb that they talk about at the beggining went off 2 weeks before we got to Derry and the second one they talk about went off 2 weeks ago when we were away in Dublin. even with this threat we all feel extremely safe, but it is interesting to see how this effects people even today, 12 years after the Belfast/good Friday Agreement.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
So one minute we are sitting in class after being told by our program director to dress nicely yesterday, and the next minute we are sitting in the 3rd row of the Great Hall on campus here listening to Former President Bill Clinton give a speech about his economic ideas and goals for Northern Ireland as well as challenging us, "the Youth", to become more economically aware!! I don't know about you but I think that is pretty stinkin' cool! Bill(we are on a first name basis now) talked about how it was a huge honor for him to be a part of the peace process in Northern Ireland in the 90's and how impressed he was to see that both the First Minister, Peter Robinson, and the Deputy First Minster, Martin McGuinness, are working together to work toward a brighter future in Northern Ireland.
Oh and did i mention that both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were present for the speech and met up with our group and took pictures with us afterwards? oops. oh and did i mention that John Hume(known to be the man that started the effort towards the peace talks in Northern Ireland) and his wife were also sitting literally 2 rows in front of me as well as the speaker of parliament William Hunt! Not to mention that the hip and trendy 27 year old mayor of Derry as well as the deputy mayor of Derry were present and sitting right in front of us as well! I was so star struck with all of the absolutely HUGE names that were sitting right there in front of us that I almost didn't notice that Chris Matthews of NBC news was sitting right beside the other half of our group that was 2 rows back!!!!
After the speech was over, Bill walked towards our group and I was lucky enough to get to reach out and shake his hand! He looks so much older and more frail that I would have imagined him to, but it was still extremely cool to get to shake his hand. Also after the speech Amanda and I got whisked away by our program director to get interview by the NATIONAL NEWS!!!! so cool! we ended up just answering questions about what we thought about his speech as well as if we were impressed by his status and his stances on the economics of the region. I said that I was!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The Tin Whistle class is a lot of fun because it is every Tuesday night at one of the local elementary schools. so not only are we learning one of the most simple instruments, but we also feel like idiots because we are sitting in the little kid chairs of the elementary schools and are way too big for them. sometimes when we play a really hard song(which in all actuality is a really easy song) you can hear someone get really frustrated and their whistle squeaks and or you hear a fluster of notes coming from one area of the classroom usually accompanied by laughter, to which our teacher points out that no where in the sheet music is laughter called for.
Dance is different though. we go to the Verbal Arts Center inside the walls of Derry to take our class every Friday afternoon. the room that we are in is really small and Josh and I have to watch our heads when we skip around to make sure we don't smack one of the lights that hangs from the ceiling. the ceiling is so short that without really jumping at all, I can hit my head on it.
When all things are said and done though, we have to perform these new cultural skills to the mayor of London/Derry. could be interesting to see and hour host brother has already told us that he is going to videotape if for us and post it online because it is going be some "Real good Craic!(craic means fun times or something good like that, it has lots of different meanings)" lets just hope that some of the people in the group practice then!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Rugby is also a pretty amazing sport. lots of running, lots of hitting, lots of really huge guys, and not very much padding. actually no padding. except some of the guys use this like little foam beanie hat but i am really doubting that it does all that much protection wise... they even pick the biggest of the guys up so that they can catch the ball being thrown in or kicked off. it is crazy. it seems like the entire game is based on who can push their own player farther while the other team tries and stop them.
In the end Ulster(the team that represents the 9 northern counties of the isle of Ireland) defeated Edinburgh(pronounced Edinburough, also the capital of Scotland) 29 to 21. it was a really fun time and I even got my first souvenir, a tee shirt. after the game Josh and I walked back to the bus station and caught the last bus back home to Derry. I don't know if much can beat how much fun we had that night.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I have used tactic of getting lost on runs before to learn a new place when i got there, and that place was Bluffton! I feel like since Derry is much bigger than Bluffton it could take a few more runs and miles to get the hang of this place...
Also last night we had the whole group over for Baked Potato Night at our house. Tons of fun ensued, especially with the fact that Josh and I were in charge of making the potatoes and neither of us had a clue what to do, but it turned out ok. we all ate and chatted and then played some cards.(Uno, Spoons, and Phase Ten) It was a good time and also a good way for all of us to check in on each other outside of class.
That's all for now, gotta go to my Northern Ireland Politics class(the most boring of our classes... gotta try and stay awake!) But I promise I will have pictures of Derry up on here on my next blog. maybe I should take my camera out with me on a run just like in the movie Yes Man!
Monday, September 6, 2010
Once at the park we enjoyed the music, each others company, as well as some good burgers and ice cream. even though it was only maybe 55 degrees outside. gotta love those Ireland summers...
the last few days it has been raining which has put a damper on the whole walking to and from class as well as the grocery store attitude. but in other news i got to truly test my new rain jacket which works awesomely. Thanks mom and dad for getting it for me for my birthday! To try and boost our modes from the cool wet weather, Josh and I decided to make some chili tonight. this was interesting because neither of us knew how to as well as we didn't really know what to use. but after consulting a very sketchy looking online recipe we decided to go after it anyways, and with the help of our host brother who saved the day with some spices it turned out pretty good. Next item on the dinner menu to try and tackle is meatloaf. oh how cooking for yourself can be kind of exciting!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
After class Me and a few others walked down to the grocery store to get some food for the "Taco night" we all had that evening at one of the host families house. As we were walking police cars were going everywhere and people were just kind of carrying on with their normal business. it was amazing to say the least. I didn't understand how people could hear about something like that and still just sit outside a cafe eating a sandwich and drinking a beer. But it almost felt like it was a taboo subject to talk about with anyone, i felt so conflicted with the aching need to want to learn more about what happened but not wanting to offend anyone by talking about it. people were so quiet about things like this that apparently earlier in the week there was another bomb scare that none of us even knew about!
I have no other way of explaining how i felt than amazed at how everyone around here reacted. but i guess after over 30 years of violence and "troubles" people are use to things like this. which is just hard to imagine when you come from a place that even the smallest things make the news as huge catastrophes. things like this just go to show that although the Belfast agreement of 1998 and the decommissioning of arms in the 21st century have happened. there is still very much so conflict happening in this part of the world. You could ask anyone and they would not hesitate to tell you that immediately.
In other news, Josh has developed a sort of runny nose, and i have had a sore throat and migraines for the last few days. Our program director says that it is just the fact that our bodies are not use to the germs on this side of the ocean yet and that we will get over it but it is getting really annoying. We hung out with our host brother a lot lately too. he is really funny and is always up for a good time, and really knows the good places to go and get a bite to eat. Josh and I ventured into town for lunch yesterday and were able to find a place called Wetherspoons to eat at and got ourselves some burgers!!! they were OK but the fries here, or should I say "chips", are absolutely amazing!
No plans for the weekend as of yet, probably going to start working on some homework and reading and try to relax after making through our first week of classes!! Again to everyone back home. I am fine, I feel safe, and I am having the time of my life!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Cooking is a whole different thing from back home. our family doesn't have the conventional oven and burner set up. oh no, they instead have a thing that i believe is called a "range". it is on all the time and it works from burning oil very slowly. it actually serves two purposes, one being that you put stuff on top of it and it cooks it, and two being that it heats the house to a certain extent. very cool. except Josh and I had no idea how to use it to cook our pasta. it is not like we can change the temperature of the thing. So as Josh boiled the noodles I browned the meet and then added the pasta sauce and had to keep taking the sauce off the burner and then putting it back on as the noodles were taking especially long to cook for some reason. after pouring ourselves glasses of our new favorite juice(tesco brand orange juice that is carbonated!!!) we sat down and enjoyed our immense amount of food. we had no idea that we had cooked that much! we now safely have leftovers for the next 3 evening and wont have to cook again until Monday!! this is working out perfectly, plus the fact that we only used half the noodles and meet so if we just go and get sauce we are set for another Delicious pasta night!!
As the weekend is approaching though we are all trying to figure out what we are going to do. some of the group wants to go to the Ulster American Folk Park which is apparently really cool plus one of the host families is performing musically at the part this weekend for a festival. I know that Josh and I are looking to go to a Rugby or Gaelic Football match sometime during our stay but we are still trying to figure out the busing situation here in Derry. it all seems so foreign even though we have the exact same thing back home.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
After class Josh, my housemate, and I went to town to go and get a card for our hostmom cause she is retiring today so there is some sort of party. actually my host brother has been cooking none stop from last night it seems through this morning for the occasion. also we had to go out and get laundry detergent and meat to put in our pasta that we were going to make. i say that we were going to make it because we didn't actually cause we got invited to dinner at two of the girls house because they were making potato soup and didn't want to have any leftovers.
The only problem with going to the girls house for dinner was that we didn't really know where they lived, and they gave us the wrong street when they gave us the address. both those things really helped contribute to Josh and I wandering around the Bogside(the area to the west of the walls of Derry, AKA the location where Bloody Sunday took place) for about and hour until we finally gave in and called the girls. we didn't want to call the girls because it is really expensive to use minutes on the phones we were given and were also kind of determined to find our way by ourselves. woops. but dinner was good none the less.
after dinner some of the other girls wanted to go to the pub so we went to a local pub and all had a blast. there was live music and people were dancing and singing and just have a grand time. ("good craic" if you want to put some Irish slang in there) some people came up and talked to us and we would politely act as if we 1. understood them and 2. really could actually hear them. it was loud with the music going on and people were everywhere. I am glad that we go there early for seats. the live music was amazing and I couldn't get one the songs out of my head so naturally this morning i went on a google search to try and find it and boom there it was. the video i am about to put down is a performance from a pub just to kind of give you the idea of what it is like but it is not actually the pub we were at. i should have brought my camera so i could have gotten a video. I kind of can't wait to start tin whistle and Irish dance lessons now!!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPAZ5TOHHvo
Saturday, August 28, 2010
It is scary to think that this is my new home. it is like moving into the dorms freshman year all over again. you don't know where everything is cause your mom packed all your bags and you don't know where to put everything because you are afraid that you might offend someone who really doesn't care about it at all. What I am even more scared of is classes starting because classes over in Northern Ireland are completely different than those at Bluffton. The professors do not give you a reading list or what needs to be done by when, they just give some names of books that might be helpful and expect you to have them read by certain times. Also there is no homework for our classes apparently, so all that we have to focus on is reading and studying up for our papers that are due at the end of our 8 weeks of classes. this might be the strangest 17 credit hours i will ever take. but i know they will be the most exciting!!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Were here!!!!! the plane rides were less than enjoyable. Especially having to run through the Newark airport only to come to our gate for our flight to Belfast and see that the door was already closed, but after the girls put on their best puppy dog faces they agreed to open the doors just to let all ten of us on the flight!!! By then they had already given our seats away and so I got to be lucky enough to sit in between 2 overly talkative grandmas that just thought I was the sweetest boy in the world. Finally after a 4 hour nap and sitting through "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" we arrived at 8:30 in the morning in Belfast International Airport(3:30 our time). We went through customs and then met up with our program director Myrven Love, who showed us to our bus and shipped us of to CorryMeela Retreat Center for our next 5 days.
Once at the center we got a tour of the grounds and then got some free time before some of us decided it was finally time to give in to the urge to sleep before dinner/tea time at 5:30. I was not one of those sleeping people, instead we went with 3 of the volunteers into the town of Ballycastle to look around and see the beach. FYI the water on the northern coast of Northern Ireland is FREEZING!!!! oh and it is only about 60 degrees here as oppose to the 90 degrees we have been use to back home. After walking the mile into town and back we arrived back to be welcomed to a nice steak dinner and some fruit spongcake dessert!!
Tomorrow starts off with lunch at 1 and then off to orientation and then Giants Causeway!!!!(A.K.A the 8th wonder of the world)
Sunday, August 22, 2010
All has been packed, including my toothbrush and some extra socks. my suitcase has officially be weighed, and the total is now comes to is 50.2 pounds. i sure hope that the people at check in are not sticklers about the weight or i might be paying extra or trying to fit an extra pair of jeans into my carryons. speaking of carryons... they are busting at the seams. they consist of two over sized backpacks that are carrying an extra 20 pounds of "stuff" in each. things include, passports, food, shoes, wool sweater, khaki pants, folders, 2 books on ironman racing(i may be a little obsessed), and 1 stuff animal(insert being made fun of here).
Today would be Sunday and so far today i have seen my mom, dad, sister, grandma, and girlfriend all cry as i left my house with my girlfriend to go to her house because it is closer to school. the only person who did not cry would be my dog, and she was more worried about my mom crying and where her bone was than actually about me leaving.
after spending the evening at my girlfriends i am excited to get to school tomorrow! There is the sending ceremony at 12:30 at the peace thrones on campus(all are invited) and at about 1:30 we load up and head out. we will fly from Dayton to Newark and then stay in Newark for about an hour until we leave for Belfast at 9:30 PM and arrive at 9:00 AM. that is going to be one long flight!! although i say that and have done almost the exact same flight twice before going to Scotland and London. After that it is a 4 day orientation at the CorryMeela Retreat Center and off to our homestays.
i probably wont be able to post until we get to our homestays or even later so this would have to be a goodbye for now. but trust me, i will live to blog again! just next time it will be in NORTHERN IRELAND!!!
Monday, August 16, 2010
4 wool sweaters (recently purchased at the Salvation Army!! Chyea)
3 dress shirts (never know when you need to look classy)
slacks and "trousers" (in Ireland pants are what your refer to if you are talking about underwear)
2 pair of khaki shorts
3 pair of workout shorts (gotta stay in shape for track in the spring/plus maybe a marathon in Dublin?)
lots of socks
shoes 2 pair
man i feel like i am even forgetting stuff in this blog, even more than i feel like i am forgetting in real life.
The official weight( i before e except after c, and when its "eh" as in neighbor and weigh. my dad just taught me that second part.) of my suitcase is 49 pounds. they are only allowed to be under 50 pounds so i am in the clear on that one. so everything else must go in the two backpacks i am taking as carryons. including another pair of shoes, some clothes and other random objects that are necessary for me to be able to function for the 4 months "across the pond". alright so maybe i just wanted to say that.
as of right now, in one week i will more than likely still be on a plain over the atlantic ocean heading to me knew home for 4 months in Northern Ireland. SO EXCITED!!! saturday is my last day of work, sunday i leave for ohio to stay overnight at my girlfriends house because she lives close to school and i want to spend time with her family before i leave. and finally, on monday afternoon it is off to Bluffton to attend the sending ceremony at the Peace Thrones. then from there it is off the Dayton to Fly away. I can't wait!!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Now you may be wondering why i am packing. in fact, i am leaving on the 23rd of august for a semester abroad on the Bluffton University Norther Ireland program(http://www.bluffton.edu/xcultural/nireland/). It has been a goal of mine to study in another country, actually it is more of a wanting to live in another country. so now as i sit in my living room watching my parents TV show as they both sleep in their respective spots on the lazy boy and sofa, i am starting to freak out as i realize, oh boy, i am about to say it, i only have a week and 4 days until i leave!!!!! oh man, all i got right now is the dog to try and stir up and freak out with and even she is sleeping on the couch which is why i am on the floor.
For me, the future is actually a really scary thing to think about. i don't even like thinking about tomorrow as much as thinking about next week, or the months i will be in Ireland, or my last two years at Bluffton or what i am going to do after school. usually i just think far enough ahead to my next race. and since i am not doing cross country this fall due to being thousands of miles away in Ireland, i have been looking for new things to look ahead to. The crazy thing is all i can think about is how i need to pack so i can repack and pack again to make sure i have everything. i have lists of answers and have gotten so much advice from people who have been on the "experience" and all i can think about is questions i still have, but when i go to try and write them down nothing comes out.
So i guess what i am trying to say is that i am both excited for what is certainly going to be the most memorable and interesting experience in my life, and am most definitely scared because it is venturing into the unknown. But I need this. i need adventure and i want to experience life, especially because this has been one of my goals for a long time. I am excited and i can't wait to leave.