March 2005 Reflection

I’m back!! As I sit down to write this journal entry, I am amazed at how much time has passed since I first arrived on this island. Northern Ireland has affected me in more ways that I can conceive. This weekend the Mitchells had our semester get together in Limerick. The weekend was absolutely amazing. The Cliffs of Moher are really high and a great way for one to overcome their fear of heights. I am proud to say that I survived crawling to the edge and snapping a few pictures of the cliff wall. It was great to see all of the Mitchells again and Mr. Pendergrast. It was a fun weekend. Let me just say that I am convinced that there is a distinct difference between weather in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland. It is a most fascinating dichotomy that this Cajun from Southern Louisiana strives to understand.

Since my last journal entry, I have finally taken up another life long passion. I know in Ireland I keep taking up life long passions. For so long, I saw people who could play an instrument and said to myself that I wish that I could play an instrument, any instrument. Well, I finally bit the bullet and took up the piano. My teacher is very patient with me which is great because I am an extremely uncoordinated and slow learner on the piano. I really enjoy it and am glad that I took the leap. Ireland has added another skill to my repertoire. Though I will admit that is the only splurge in my itinerary since this semester began.

I am still a dedicated hill walker. A few weeks ago, we scaled the highest mountain in County Donegal-Mount Errigal. It blew my mind because as we approached the summit this white stuff started hitting my face at 60 km/ph. It was snow. Yes, I know that it was February and those things happen, but not on the bayous of Southern Louisiana. It was a new experience for me. I even got to make a snow angel and have a snowball fight on the summit of Errigal. If anyone comes to Magee, I emphatically endorse the Hill Walking Club. It is a great way to see the countryside and to get over any fears of heights.

However just like my first journal entry in November, most of my time has been consumed with working on all of the papers and assignments for the semester. I have become quite close to the library staff at the Magee Library. It is like a home away from home. Like the November journal entry, I make a promise that now that all of my assignments are completed, I will become a more interesting Mitchell again. I will admit that I do get a little obsessive and a little compulsive when it comes to schoolwork.

Though speaking of work, my research work with Ilex-The Urban Regeneration Company for Derry/Londonderry has been extremely interesting. I am still working on the first project about footpath cafes. When I was first handed that assignment, I thought that I would have it done in three weeks. I turned in my first draft and since then it has just been one addition after the other. I find it very rewarding to prepare work that is actually being used in the work to rejuvenate Derry/Londonderry. On a high note, a businessman in Derry/Londonderry read my preliminary report and has agreed to be a guinea pig of sorts in the development of footpath cafes in Derry/Londonderry. On a low note, I have discovered the mounds of legislation that were enacted during the Troubles and they are proving somewhat difficult to overcome. I always did like a good fight, so this job is great and keeps me busy.

You know, Derry/Londonderry is a unique place to study peace and conflict. Right now, the peace process itself seems to be tested. With the McCartney murder taking center stage and the Northern Bank robbery still making headlines, I wonder what is the next step in this whole process. I feel privileged to be here experiencing it with the locals and getting their opinions and their views on the whole situation. It is a first hand experience that could never be replicated. Not until this weekend, did I fully realize how much the Peace and Conflict Program has taught this economist from Louisiana. Sure I disagree with my classmates and professors on a daily basis, but it is from those debates and disagreements that I am learning more than I thought I would. The spring semester has been really interesting because everything we are studying is contemporary. I am really excited because in a month my program will be taking our class to Belgium for a week to observe the European Parliament and visit World War I and II battle sites.

Well, I am sure that I have bored you enough with my quiet little life in Northern Ireland. I promise that I will strive to make the remainder of this semester much more interesting for your next read.

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