Monthly Archives: January 2012


As I look back upon the Northern Ireland semester, roughly two weeks after I returned to the states (and the day of my flying out to a totally different country for a swim team training trip), I remember with great fondness my time there. I learned a lot in those few months, and only time will tell how much more depth and what new insights will be garnered in the future with my experiences from abroad. Perhaps it’s telling, that you only know how much you value something after the fact. I find that with a lot of things…
But, I digress. Being in an environment that was still dealing with the past, and the legacy of violence was often challenging, but beyond the surface perception lies a deeper layer. I found that nothing is as it seems. For all of the assumptions that are made (including ones I had), there was at least one person who would defy the stereotypes, or break the mold in some way. To be honest, most people don’t really even care about the politics of the county, they only care about it to the extent that it affects their daily lives. People from back home often asked me “Do you think you’ve made a difference? Do you think there is hope there?”. I will treat these two questions separately. My answer to the first question would be, I certainly hope so! I can’t really know now the impact I may have had years down the line, but what I do know is that I’ve only been able to control my actions, and that my attitude towards others was one that I always tried to keep focused on hope. Despite my frequent frustrations, and the challenges I’ve faced, I really have tried to keep the glass half full. I’m generally an optimistic person. I I try not to take criticisms personally, or failures as a sign of the future. I try to learn from such things, and to change future actions based on them. I will try my best to make a positive contribution wherever I can, regardless of circumstances. To be honest, I can’t really change the circumstances anyways, the only thing I can do is change my own attitude. This is something that has only been reinforced this semester. I have been incredibly frustrated at times, especially when I see things that I would rather have changed. This was particularly the case during my research project, where the political system’s occasional incoherency and illogic bugged me, but hey, nothing new there, I get that with pretty much any political system. Thus, I just consciously dropped the frustration off a cliff, and focused on a realistic, yet optimistic mindset. Sure, things aren’t the way that I want them, but it’s a journey of a thousand small steps. This journey is one that I still see my community organizations on today, as well as the people I met while I was there. Thus my answer to the second question would be , ABSOLUTELY. I’m never one to say ‘this is hopeless’. I don’t believe in hopelessness. Though I understand it can really be frustrating sometimes, I don’t think it’s ever constructive to give up hope. I have seen how far things have come, and while there is most definitely a long ways to go, there is definitely still hope. It’s odd, because now when I’m asked about NI, I feel an intense personal attachment now, something that I didn’t necessarily expect I’d have when I arrived. It simultaneously feels like home, and a totally foreign place, depending on the day. While I’m glad to be home and see my family and friends, I REALLY am going to miss this country. I loved being there, learning from everyone, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with two wonderful organizations. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I am especially grateful to[my community organizations] to my program coordinator and to the wonderful faculty and students at ISE.