Greetings and welcome to the Spring Term 2016 newsletter from Belfast, Northern Ireland!
Our students have been on site since late January and our Society, Conflict + Peace program is almost at its end. For the past several months our students have undertaking rigorous study at our host school, Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), as well as completing our CIEE core course Culture and Conflict in Northern Ireland. As a member of the Russell Group, QUB is one of the UK’s 24 leading universities and is world renowned for producing high-level academic research in a wide range of areas. This term our students have taken courses in Media, Politics, and Conflict, Exploring Criminology, International Business, US Foreign Policy, and Celtic Mythology. QUB has diverse course offerings for study abroad students – ranging from Arts and Humanities to STEM. Our students this term have thrived in a challenging learning environment and participated in a vibrant student life experience!
As well as completing on-site orientation our students have enjoyed many experiential excursions from a walking tour of the Titanic Quarter, where our cohort explored and discussed industry and economy, marketing, tourism, and heritage in a transitional conflict zone through examining the EU’s largest waterfront development site and the legacy of the Titanic in Belfast to a day trip to the famed North Coast of Northern Ireland and the World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway. Though the causeway is a traditionally tourist experience, as our students enjoyed the stunning natural scenery they discussed identity, mythology, and tourism across the island of Ireland.
Titanic Belfast is the flagship tourist attraction on Queen's Island, formally the site of the shipbuilding industry in Belfast and where the Titanic was built and launched. Titanic Belfast opened in 2012 on the centenary of the ship's sinking, and our students critically examined marketing the city in relation to this interesting industrial heritage.
The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site. and juts out from the dramatic cliffs of North Antrim near the town of Portrush. The causeway is composed of hexagonal basalt columns which are a result of a volcanic eruption over 60 million years ago.
Over the course of our program we visited the Ulster Museum and the Crumlin Road Gaol, attended the Belfast St. Patrick’s Day Parade, watched films relating to conflict and identity in Ireland (The Wind That Shakes the Barley, ’71, Philomena), and travelled to Dublin and Derry/Londonderry. On our Dublin overnight excursion we had a 1916 walking tour of the city, visited the National Leprechaun Museum and Kilmainham Gaol. During this trip we discussed perceptions of Irish identities, the presentation of history, and the importance of folklore, mythology, and the oral tradition in Ireland. In Derry/Londonderry, we visited the Siege Museum run by the Apprentice Boys fraternal organisation, and had a civil rights themed walking tour of the Bogside area of the city.
On our Dublin excursion we also continued our exploration of dark tourism and museum heritage with a visit to the Victorian era Kilmainham Gaol. The gaol is famous for being the site where the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were executed.
Derry/Londonderry is the second largest city in Northern Ireland and has a long history of involvement in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement. On our walking tour the students took in the murals in the Bogside, which tell the story of significant civil rights events in the area, and continued to discuss the legacy of the conflict while we walked past Free Derry Corner.
It has been an eventful and engaging term for our cohort and as the sun starts to shine in Belfast; our students are making final plans to travel Europe and eventually head home to the United States, after they finish their exams at QUB! CIEE Belfast is preparing for a busy summer, with custom and faculty programming and is looking forward to making preparations for our incoming fall cohort!
Stay tuned for further editions of the newsletter and more exciting news from the staff in Belfast!
All the best!