June 17th – June 23rd
This week has been an amazing, busy one. While the majority of our waking time is spent working with our community partners, this entry will focus more on the extra curriculars of this week. This week in particular was one of incredible hospitality, new experiences, and wonderful people to share new memories with.
Tuesday June 18th,
While Tommy and I usually head out to play soccer with some kids from my center, this Tuesday was a sporting adventure of a whole different kind. Tommy’s work, Families Beyond the Conflict, was participating in a lawn bowling tournament, and Tommy, Win, Arpita and I headed out to participate in this sport. Lawn bowling somewhat similar to botchyball, but you roll the ball instead of bounce it. There is a “jack” that teams take turns trying to rolling their balls towards this target. The bowl’s weight is off-center, so one tries to curve their ball closest to the jack. Note: Arpita and I never figured out which way the ball was supposed to curve.
Sharon, director of FBC, came in with some ambitious plans. She wanted us to compete and not only win one, but two trophies. We were competing for both the trophy, and the “Duffers” trophy—for the winners of the losers). After a few rounds of playing with these intense competitors, we got over the learning curve, and had some success. Before we knew it, the girls team was heading into the Duffers final match, while the boys were on track for the championship.
Despite valiant effort, the girls’ team was the runners up in the Duffers match (but to our delight, we still got a trophy). After our match, we learned that the boys were tied with the league favorites, and they were going into overtime.
Despite some confusion over placement of the balls, Tommy has an incredible shot, right on the jack. We held our breaths as the other team came close to out doing Tommy’s roll but we soon exhaled the sweet air of victory. We had indeed accomplished what we came to Belfast to do: to get Sharon those two trophies.
Wednesday, June 19th.
As everyone gets more and more comfortable with the city, we’ve had a lot of opportunity to go out and explore Belfast in our free time. While our college-aged minds are prone to seek adventure, one of my favorite times of the week is when our whole Duke crew gets together for a home cooked meal. Wednesday was one of these days, and we got to take an hour or so to just hang out as a team, making plans, talking about our crazy work lives, and joke around as friends.
After dinner, a few of us met up with Katie again, and went to a place downtown to attend the open mic night. I had the opportunity of playing a few songs I’d written while in Belfast, and I was grateful for the wonderful support of my Duke students in being there. Though I enjoyed playing, I’d have to say the highlight of the night was listening to these two rappers who went right after me. Whether these two teenage boys intended to or not, they sure made us laugh as they rhymed about their mad street cred.
Friday, June 21st
We had one of the busiest and most exhausting weekends. On Friday, we went up to Lisburn to participate in Cultural night, hosted by Resurgam, where Michael and Arpita work. We stopped on the way to see a march, as it is parade season, and saw our first Northern Ireland march. After standing in the rain to see this event, we headed up to a local pub, and were overwhelmed by the hospitality we received. We were able to listen to some Scotch-Irish music (our favorite song was probably the one about the Lambbag drum). The group found good humor in the amount of singing, dancing, and joking that went on throughout the night, and made some new friends with Michael and Arpita’s coworkers.
Saturday, June 22nd
Saturday afternoon was a bit more mellow, as our twenty-year old bodies aren’t used to working 9 to 5s, so we spent most of the day catching up on sleep. In the evening, Michael went up to help host a boxing event in Lisburn, and the rest of us went over to dinner at our hostel manager, Ruth’s house. Again, this weekend was one of superb hospitality. We spent the evening with her family, hearing stories of the madness of running a hostel, and got to hear about her husband, Jim’s experience in the military. It turned into a pretty late night, as we were enjoying our time there, and by the end of the night, we all felt very close to our gracious host Ruth. We’ll certainly have to return the favor, hosting Ruth for a night of good fun!
Sunday, June 23rd,
On Sunday, Kate Laverty, the director of the Center for Health and Well-Being, arranged her Shared History a trip to Dublin. As Lynne and Aarti work there, we were invited to tag along. We visited the Kilmainham gaol, which was incredibly interesting. We learned that during the Potato famine, some people would deliberately commit crimes to go to jail, just so they could be guaranteed one meal a day. They braved disease, overcrowding and imprisonment, because that was a better option than starving on the streets.
After the tour, we were given some free time to explore. Most of the group went o tour the Guinness factory, while a few of us explored the city on our own. Dane and I got the chance to tour the Viking museum of Dublin, which I absolutely loved as I’m a history major/buff. We also got to eat in the famous Temple Bar.
While the sites and the adventure of going to Dublin were extremely exciting, the best part was spending time with the Shared History Group. They were so kind and engaging, quick to make a joke and tell a story.
This week has been full of wonderful encounters with the locals. I’m incredibly grateful for the people of Belfast welcoming us into the community.