In what seems to be the theme for this Spring 2020 Semester, we made a change in this year’s spring break trip. Instead of heading to Israel, our traditional trip for the last decade, a group of 30 students two faculty, and myself headed to Ireland and Northern Ireland for a look at Comparative Conflict Resolution. For about 10 of the students, the trip was a compliment to last year’s Israel / Palestine experience, while for many others, this was a trip of firsts.
I should note off the bat that this was a first for all of us to come home to this uncertainty and new normal. We left in early March worried about small outbreaks and came home to quarantines, home isolation and remote classes. In the vein of keeping us thinking about interesting things, though, I wanted to get the blogs going and share reflections from the students.
The class primarily is focused on the Troubles–the strife between Catholics & Protestants, British & Irish, IRA & Royal Ulster Constabulary–in the years between 1969 and now, highlighted by the Good Friday Accords signed in 1998, thinking about implementation for the last 20 years, and the prospect of what Brexit could do to the region.
So, although we went to Belfast by Sunday evening, we started in Dublin where I think one needs to understand the Irish Revolution in order to understand the Troubles. (As I joked with our guides, too often, we in the U.S. go straight from the potato famine (or genocide depending on who is telling the story) to the Troubles–I know that is what my education was before diving into the conflict and its history.)
We were greeted in Dublin by a young, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable guide who lead us through the capital city’s history and present. He toured the group through momentous spots from the Irish Revolution, the campus of Trinity College, and gave us our first taste of the remarkable color green only Ireland can offer with a stroll through St. Stephen’s Green. Below is the beautiful customs house in Dublin. And I’ll be posting about an element of the trip every week day for the next two weeks–I look forward to everyone’s comments!