Wow, it's already March and our CIEE Society, Conflict and Peace students are fully immersed into local life in Belfast. So far our students have participated in a number of excursions and events, from having toured the various interfaces in Belfast (where the two communities collide), to visiting the site where the infamous RMS Titanic was built!
Just this week, our students also had the unique opportunity to meet a representative from the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. The Christian Protestant fraternity has often found itself intertwinned with the politics of sectarianism in Belfast as their parading culture is often viewed by members of the Roman Catholic community as offensive.
The Education Office for the Orange Order (as the fraternity is most often known as) explained the organisations position on many of these issues. He explained the dynamics of todays politics and culture, and how this impacts upon their community and culture. CIEE students took the opportunity to ask further questions about the Order, including questions on the significance and role of women in a fraternal organisation (certainly no easy question to answer)!
(CIEE group with David Scott)
Next week our group will meet political representatives from the other side of the community divide. Claire Hanna from the SDLP party will explore the Nationalist perspective of the peace process at Belfast City Hall in an exclusive CIEE meeting.
Until next time!