I've been meaning to post on the blog for some time. So here goes.
Last week marked my, and many other's, 7 month celebration of being in N. Ireland. Time, as the old adage goes, sure does fly when you're having fun. So far my BVS time has been great. The conventional BVS wisdom is that the volunteer will learn and change more than the environment in which they are placed. It's true.
What have I done with my time in Northern Ireland? I've been to prison--through work--and heard stories of Ex-British Soldiers and a Republican(Hard-line Catholic) becoming friends and act in a drama together. I've seen Noble Laureate, John Hume, speak and see him walking around town. I saw former IRA-man, turned politician, Martin McGuinness, Deputy First-minister (equivalent of NI deputy prime-minister) speak. I've learned how to spell words correctly that Americans habitually misspell: globalise, neighbourhood, defence and the list goes on. I've seen transformation. I've seen people not wanting to change in the slightest.
What is my favourite thing about NI? With out a doubt, the people. Life is slower. As my boss says, "I work to live. I don't live to work." Life is meant to be enjoyed. Relationships are much more important that productivity (yet it is still crucial that there is a level of getting work done).
I've changed. I've grown. I sure have learned more in this seven months about the world, America and myself than I ever could have imagined. The life of a full-time volunteer is something that I am truly grateful to have experienced. BVS has truly ruined me for life. But I would never go back.