Hello again (and farewell for now),
Our Spring 2013 semester has come to an end with all of our students having departed for their
respective homes. It has been a wonderful semester here in Belfast as our
students explored the fantastic city of culture that is Belfast! We’ve visited
many historic and scenic sites and met with many great people from Northern
Ireland. All of which has added greatly to the academic integrity and student
experience of the CIEE Society, Conflict,
and Peace study abroad program.
Here is a recap of what our students explored this semester!
Besides travelling to other European destinations our CIEE students also took part in more excursions and exclusive seminars with key figures in the community in Belfast.
Our group met with Councillor Claire Hanna, from the Social Democratic and Labour Party, who
invited our students to Belfast City Hall for an exclusive chance to explore
the politics of non-violent Irish nationalism. Our CIEE students engaged with
Claire in a lively discussion during this unique occasion where a fantastic
meeting-of-minds occurred. Together the group explored the potential positive
future of Belfast and Northern Ireland.
This was followed by another CIEE exclusive event where our students met with a representative from the South and West Action Trust, Trevor Greer. Trevor, who hails from a
loyalist Protestant working class area in South Belfast, spoke candidly with
the CIEE students providing them with a rare insight behind the public narrative
of the British identity in Northern Ireland.
Our students also explored Dublin during the St Patrick’s day parade! As part of
our expenses paid programme our CIEE group travelled to the capitol city of the
emerald isle to explore how culture and identity is marketed to an outside
audience. It wasn’t all though classwork, though! Our group took the
opportunity to explore and enjoy the city landscape during the festive day – we
even watch the wonderful parade!
One would imagine these excursions were enough! Certainly not with CIEE as our
group of students also participated in two separate overnight trips to the East
of Ireland and Derry city (all included in the program fee)!
During our first overnight trip to the East of Ireland, our CIEE students enjoyed the
luxury of a private bus where we explored the wonderful heritages sites of
Newgrange (a burial site older than the Pyramids at Giza), the Battle of the
Boyne site (the largest battle in Irish history, occurred in 1690), and
Kilmainham Gaol (one of the most politically relevant prisons in Irish and
British history). Student’s also visited the National History and Archaeology
Museum of Ireland where the witnessed first-hand the world famous ‘Bog Bodies’
– human remains that are traced back to the Iron Age. In the evening we enjoyed
a full three course meal in a wonderful traditional Irish restaurant-pub, only
to retire in a wonderful centrally located hotel in Dublin city centre.
The following week our group went on their second overnight trip to the City of Derry. Derry, a
city that traces its charter back to the 1600s, is a walled city with two names
– Derry and Londonderry. During our visit we explored the Bogside district and
Free Derry corner. It was only metres from this site where the infamous shootings
on Bloody Sunday occurred in 1972. Our students visited the Museum of Free
Derry – a locally run museum designed to tell the story of the victims from
that day. From there our group visited the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI) in the Strand Road Police Station. Our exceptional hosts welcomed our
group into a seminar room, where officers of all ranks spoke candidly about
their jobs, their roles within society, and their positivity for Northern
Having been presented with a tour of the equipment and vehicles used
by the PSNI, our group left with great excitement to visit the Apprentice Boys
of Derry (ABOD) museum. The museum is housed in the headquarters of the ABOD
who are one of the large Protestant fraternities in Northern Ireland.
Students also visited the first ever purpose built Protestant Cathedral in the world –
right in the heart of Derry city! St. Columb’s cathedral, in its grand position
in the city centre, towers above the city. Within the cathedral the students
toured the various displays, including the remnants of flags from the US
military forces that were stationed in the city during World War II. Again, to
unwind and relax another wonderful dinner in a fantastic hotel was enjoyed –
all to be followed by a full Irish breakfast the next day!
Now our time has
come and we move our attention to other pressing matters. Results from
the recent examinations are currently being processed and should be released by
For more information and up to date ‘tweets’, check out our Facebook (facebook.com/CIEENorthernIreland) and Twitter (@CIEEBelfast) sites
Until next semester!