Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trip to Northern Ireland

There is an immense amount of unrest that still lingers in Belfast, a Northern city in Ireland. Visiting this part of the country may seem unsafe to some, but thankfully we were well kept after. The FIE program has given its study abroad students an incredible opportunity, one that many visitors simply never see.
The Peace Wall- Belfast, Northern Ireland

The most incredible part of the trip was visiting the peace wall located in the heart of the conflict. Representing the division of a highly controversial religious disagreement, the peace wall remains a symbol of unity. It was my initial reaction that the wall marks the start of a new united country ruled to this day by Great Britain. It was brought to my attention that although the wall offers a sign of peace, it also represents the extreme division between the two opposing religious groups, Catholic and Protestant.  The wall is a literal barrier that separates the two groups. However, while visiting the wall, onlookers will find how powerful the use of words can truly be in uniting not only a society but bringing together a variety of people from various backgrounds. Its presence is most certainly appreciated by visitors and quietly screams the cries of support of millions from around the world. The tradition of signing the wall was passed onto us as students connecting the stories and history of the country that we have called home for the past five weeks.
While in the North, there was an abundance of murals painted to commemorate the various events of the struggle. One of my personal favorites is of a priest waving his white handkerchief to single a ceasefire on Bloody Sunday. The amount of emotion that is evoked while looking at these specific scenes made me appreciate the sense of peace these people now know.

Mural depicting a scene from Bloody Sunday- Derry, Northern Ireland

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