Week 1: Queen’s University Belfast

Well everyone… I have officially made it to Belfast, Northern Ireland! These past couple of days have been tiring but fun-filled! At the beginning of our week we made our rounds around the Belfast city area, our dorms, and navigating around the historic University itself. We had gone through the registration process to become international summer school students, had an international summer school welcome wine reception, and even had an Irish dancing social in the great hall. Of course with all the fun also comes the reason we are here; our educational experience! To start off our lectures, the beginning of the week we got the history of Northern Ireland, learned the politics/identity of Unionism/Loyalism versus Republicanism/Nationalism.  The next day we were lectured on the introduction to understanding conflict transformation and social justice. Essentially it was the understanding of peace processes’ key elements and concepts of what peace is.  We also dived into the structural violence and distributive justice that goes along with conflict transformation. This was an examination of the socioeconomic violence and marginalization of the societies that are deeply divided.  An important lesson is that we want to look at the efforts of dealing with past troubles to facilitate reconciliation and transformation for a hopeful future. To optimistically combat transgenerational transmission through the youth to break away from these long held beliefs and lack of tolerance so the practices do not continue on. Lastly, we discussed how communities (paramilitaries) and the police have worked together during the tensions to reduce violence. So far it has been very interesting and I am ardent about the rest of this week’s lectures and field trips. Up next is: learning about the peace walls, a field trip to South Armagh, lecture on devolved government, followed by a visit to Northern Ireland’s Parliament building, Stormont, to have a discussion with representatives from political parties in N.I.

Favorite quote of the week: “Leadership is not looking at the next election, but looking at the next generation.” – Professor John Brewer

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