The North Star Project, Summer Report Number Nine, Northern Ireland -- Culture Shock
By Megan Hennen
Northern Ireland Report #2
Having been abroad for about a week and a half, I still hadn’t encountered much culture shock due to our intensive learning on the history and politics of Northern Ireland. It wasn’t until we got out of the classroom for two ‘orientation’ field trips. These field trips were taken in the last week of classes before our group was to split in half and divide between two major cities of the tiny country for the internship segment of the program. It was during these field trips that the culture shock had finally arrived.
Our first field trip was to the city of Derry/Londonderry, home to a significant event of the Troubles, Bloody Sunday. Derry (as the Irish Catholics would refer to the city) is home to a predominantly Catholic Republican population, however, there are certain parts of town that are especially Catholic Republican, one of them being the Bogside (the part of town where Bloody Sunday took place). In the Bog you would find a plethora of Irish Tricolor flags, Irish Republican Army (a revolutionary military organization commonly called the IRA) graffiti and more importantly some of the infamous political murals. Then we went to another side of town called the Fountain Estate.
The Fountain is the miniscule Protestant neighborhood on the city side of the town they’d call Londonderry. Here you’d find the red, white, and blue of the Union Jack on all corners of the wall surrounding this Protestant community. This wall was the most shocking thing I had seen. We had learned about them in class, but there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself. These walls (called ‘peace lines’) had been constructed as a means of protection. Because there’s such a small Protestant population, they have been the targets of Republican violence (paint bombs, petrol bombs, shootings, etc.). Although the Fountain doesn’t see nearly as much violence today, the Protestant community does not yet feel safe enough to have them torn down. How’s that for culture shock?
[Images] TOP LEFT: Peace line with the Fountain to the left of wall BOTTOM LEFT: Union Jack painted on garage signifying British pride MIDDLE: Bloody Sunday mural in the Bogside RIGHT: Tricolor on top of a light post and IRA graffiti in the Bog
For all of the North Star Project Summer Reports, see HERE
The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Summer Reports.
Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
This summer we will re-tool and re-design the collaborative program, drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This summer The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here throughout the summer, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.
Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, June, 2013
(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 6, Spring, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy.