It’s crazy to think that my study abroad journey in Ireland is already 25% done! I’m at this stage where think I have barely spent any time in Belfast and that the trip is whizzing by me, combined with the feeling that I’ve been here for months and already want to return to the U.S. This week consisted mainly of classes and learning material about Conflict Transformation, Social Justice, and the History of Northern Ireland. Not surprisingly, I didn’t know much of the information and was surprised to learn among many facts that Northern Ireland, and Belfast in particular is still extremely segregated with Catholics living in some areas and Protestants in others. Further, that the first time many children and young adults interact with those of others religions is in university.
On Friday, the group took a trip to Stormont, the Parliament building of Northern Ireland. During this trip representatives of various political parties came to discuss their role in the conflict that transpired in previous years and to state why the government in Northern Ireland is currently not in effect. This experience was extremely interesting to me because it is difficult for me to imagine a world where we live without a governmental system. Additionally, the differing perspectives of the panelists gave more authenticity to what we were learning and made me fully realize the scope of the problem in Northern Ireland. The United Nations has several Sustainable Development Goals that they strive to obtain for countries across the globe. One such goal is #10: Reduced Inequality. This goal aims to reduce inequality within and among countries. Thus, this trip to Stormont reflects reduced inequality because by the political leaders coming together in one room to discuss various topics, they are moving one step closer to reinstating the government of the area. Further, as the government is non-functioning, many populations are not receiving the proper aid they need provided by the government. Although it may not be imminent, the return of a governmental system in Northern Ireland would benefit many of its citizens and reduce the inequalities between the Protestant and Catholic populations.
My first week in Belfast culminated on Sunday with afternoon high tea in the Titanic Belfast with just the small group from USF! The Titanic was built in Belfast in what is now known as the Titanic Quarter. We will be taking an official field trip there with the whole group and I’m sure I will tell you more then! During high tea we were served tea (of course!) and a selection of sandwiches and cakes. Although I have not yet seen the movie, it was an amazing experience of food and tea, a perfect way to end the week!
Thanks for reading!