Wednesday, July 4, 2007

the CEP and the rising of sectarian displays from the Orange Order

The past few days, we've made a lot of improvement with the empowerment group. Yesterday, there was a lot of team-building and communication work; the kids did a few physical activities centered around working together, such as moving through an obstacle course on ski-like boards as well as progressing towards a finish line while perpetually reforming the ground they had to walk on by moving on top of crates and planks. They also were happily engaged in "crate-climbing," during which I was able to get a few of them to overcome their fear of heights and gain a bit of confidence in themselves. There was again a certain amount of discipline issues, but I was discussing this with my friend from Belfast who, along with a group of other Baha'i young adults in the area, is doing other cross-community work with Catholic children and with Protestant children; as is the case with my kids, she mentioned that a lot of these kids come from environments where they're constantly being yelled at and isolated: by their teachers, by their parents, and by each other; thus the swearing and the consistent anger is rather deeply embedded in them to a point where they might not even realize that they're straying from acceptable normalities. This again relates back to the disparity between their generation and their parents' generation that I referred to earlier, possibly a post-conflict effect. Speaking to and spending time with them individually has made me realize that they really are sweet, wonderful kids, but we've learned to be much more patient and understanding with them since they've collectively endured a lot of difficulty. Today was probably the most productive day of the three; we went mountainbiking with the group, and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. I've become pretty close with a handful of the children; I'm glad to have had built a foundation with them during these past few days so as to make the upcoming weeks more successful. Tonight, I have my first session with the "suicide prevention amongst Catholic youths" group, and tomorrow I'm going on a trip to Scotland with the Hazelwood kids. Then on Friday, I'll be attending a meeting with my co-youthworker from the CEP to address budgeting for the Catholic/Protestant/Cross-Community summer youth groups in Belfast.

The Protestant areas have started to decorate for the 12th of July (quite excessively, I must say.. there are British flags within 5 feet of each other). We were driving back from mountainbiking through one such area, and it seemed to invoke a bit of anger amongst the kids (particularly when one of the areas had, next to the Union Jack and Ulster flag, decided to put up an American flag as well as some other nations' flags to insinuate these countries' support for Protestants. I agreed that, while I can't speak for all Americans, we wouldn't necessarily support Protestants over the Catholics {especially considering the high population of Irish immigrants in America as well as our own history as a colony of Britain}).

1 comment:

Raji Mohan said...

Hi Katie,
I've been amazed by everything you've been reporting in your blog. Your days in Belfast seem to be truly eye-opening, and your blog gives a vivid sense of what you've been learning. I look forward to more. All the best!