These past few days at Corrymeela have felt like summer camp/rehab. They have been full of intense sessions with very profound speakers and loads of information. Most of our brains have turned into mush by now since we had speakers every day from 10:00am-12:00pm, 2:00pm to 4:00pm, and lastly 7:30pm to 9:00pm. Each of these speakers has been able to provide us with vivid insight about the Troubles that occurred in Ireland. Ireland, my friends, is not full of leprechauns and pots of gold. It’s full of a history of bloodshed, loss, fear, and unrest between the Catholics and Protestants and some of the things I’ve heard during these few days have made my heart heavy – I can’t even begin to comprehend the pain and suffering that some of the men went through.
I wish I could begin to dive into some of the things that were covered, but I think one of the most profound moments that occurred was when I sat in a room with my class and two Irish gentlemen, one Catholic and one Protestant, who eventually became friends after the Troubles and were able to reconcile some of their differences. They are still very passionate about their individual points of view, and their “younger selves” (as they referred to them) would have hated the fact that they were now sitting in the same room as someone from the other side. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories but it’s something that I will always remember.
The highlight of my days have been walks down to the beach, where I’ve found a vast assortment of sea glass that I’ve decided to tote back home with me (there were so many littering the beach I was able to be picky about which ones I wanted). I took my camera with me this morning to take some photos – it was also an escape to have some precious and well-needed alone time. After being around people 24/7 this entire trip I’ve definitely realized the importance of solitude and silence.
The country of Ireland is absolutely glorious and I’m so blessed to be here. It was relief to get out of the city, but I think most of us are getting restless to head back so we can be closer to pubs and have a less structured schedule that we’ve had here. However, last night we were able to do laundry and judging from everyone’s reactions you would have thought it was the highlight of the trip! Now everyone is clean and fresh and ready to be on the move.
(Side note: We are currently in Northern Ireland, which is different from the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of Britain and the Republic of Ireland is it’s own country. Northern Ireland uses Pounds and The Republic of Ireland uses Euros… there’s your geography lesson for the day! It’s actually more complicated than that but I’m not going to take the time to explain everything.)
Also, I took an unexpected visit to the doctor’s office yesterday. My ears were starting to hurt, which left me pretty convinced that I had an inner ear infection considering I’ve been feeling dizzy and off balance. I took a taxi into town with our trip coordinator and after a quick appointment (it was amazing that they found time for me) I was given a prescription and I picked it up from the drug store. And all of that cost me… nothing, thanks to the National Heath Service. Some people hate it but some people love it. Anyway, my center of gravity has returned and I feel much better now, so hopefully I’ve said goodbye to being sick!
It is now time for one last session before we depart tomorrow morning for Derry. I’ll write when I can!