23 August 2011
My First Week in Belfast
Well, I'm excited to report that I've survived my first full week in Belfast! Overall, I'm doing great! I finished my first full week of work in childcare at Quaker Cottage and even managed to have a fantastic social life outside of Quakers.
During my working hours, I was with school aged children (4-12 years old) for 3 days, and babies (0-3 yrs) Wed and Thurs. The summer program here at Quaker Cottage encourages the children to get out to explore the city, while taking advantage of the rare glimpses of sunshine. Some of our outings at work have included going to a park with castle/fortress ruins in Hillsborough (about 15 minutes away), going to the Ulster Museum, which specializes in natural history, biology, and social history-including the Troubles, the Ulster Folk and Transportation Museum, which was more of a historical village set in the late 19th century, and Streamvale Farm-- an interactive child-friendly farm with petting stations, feeding stations, and more. So, I've been able to get out and about just by going to work! The children are a handful, but lovely at the same time. It's been great getting to know them all. My co-workers/supervisors are spectacular with the kids and have much knowledge about the N. Ireland conflict. I pick their brains on a regular basis; it's really great. And now I'm learning how to drive the minibuses so that we can start picking up the families that come to Quaker Cottage. While I have experience driving large vehicles through Manchester College outings, driving these minibuses are still a bit unnerving. I'm learning to drive on the left side of the road, and driving on smaller roads. It will take a while to feel comfortable driving these buses.
My living situation is good too. On Sunday, I switched to a larger room at our house. One of my roommates, Courtney, is also a BVS'er and arrived with me to Quaker Cottage at the same time. I've already gotten to know her from our BVS orientation in Maryland. She's a Notre Dame alumna that has degrees in psychology and philosophy, with an emphasis in peace studies/peace psychology. My other two roommates are German, Lena and Alex. Alex is will be leaving soon; volunteers come and go here at Quakers,and it's simply her time to move on. I just switched over to her room, which is larger and more enjoyable. :) Lena arrived only a few days before Courtney and I, so she is brand new as well. My roommates are all quite kind and we're getting along well. We all went out for a pint on Monday night, and Tuesday we all went to a 3 pound cinema to see The Guard.
My weekend was eventful and fun! Courtney and I went out for Thirsty Thursday. We learned that Thursday nights are student nights, which means the majority of pub-goers are 19 years old! We also went to Ollie's, one of the best nightclubs in Belfast, on Friday night, where we really got to mingle and dance. Saturday, Courtney and I met up with our other BVS comrade, Becca, and the pilot friend we made on our flight from London to Belfast last weekend. He also brought his friend, who's also a pilot. We walked and shopped around, then the five of us came back to our cottage to enjoy the view, and talk over a few beers. Today, Courtney, Lena, her friend from Germany, and myself went to the famous St. George's Market. St. George's Market is Belfast's award-winning market established in the late 19th century. St. George's has tons of vendors selling jewelery, artwork, crafts, books, garments, produce, catered food, and much more. The market is open each weekend Friday – Sunday. It was amazing. We saw our co-worker, Phil who has a juggling/circus equipment booth, which I found to be all the rage! Courtney and I had a go at juggling, and I think I've found my new Sunday afternoon pastime...learning to juggle with Phil at St. George's market. :)
I'm delighted and grateful for such an eventful week. I keep being surprised with realizing where I am...living in a beautiful cottage, having a job of showing love and patience to troubled children, taking regular adventures off the mountain to sustain my social life, and so much more. I'm so very lucky, and so very much looking forward to more!
Thanks for reading! Please message me your mailing address if you are interested in receiving postcards! I have a goal to send at least 5 postcards to friends and family per month!
In love, peace, and grace,