"Maurice, we're facilitating a good relations workshop for this group and we were wondering if it would be something you are interested in helping out with?"
"What kind of group is it?" I asked. I have facilitated groups before, but nothing very official, and certainly never a group of people who are from the country where I just arrived!
"They are members of The Orange Order from rural areas. They will be mostly farmers, white, and conservative."
"So, the opposite of me in every way?"
A march to commemorate Bloody Sunday.
I jested. But this did frighten me a little bit. I agreed anyway. After all, the spirit of Holywell Trust is all about taking risks. The experience was well worth it. Afterwards, I felt a sense of ownership to Holywell, like I now understood the ideals.
The Holywell Trust is a community organization in Derry/Londonderry which seeks to peacebuild through healing, understanding and fostering cooperation. It has been a dream placement. I knew I had to work Eamonn Deane, the director, as soon as I met him. Similar to Paddy, Eamonn and Holywell take chances not only on people, but on ideas. These risks can be in many forms, such as setting up workshops between controversial groups, or allowing an American intern to coordinate events and assist in facilitating trainings. Holywell is well respected in Derry/Londonderry for this very reason.
I come to Holywell anytime I don't have class to attend. The office atmosphere is what I will miss the most. Everyone gets all of the work done that they need to, but much fun is still had. A work day isn't stressful in the same way it can often be in America.
During the Bloody Sunday commemorations, Bishop Edward Daly, Fr. Aidan Troy, and Fr. Gerry Reynolds spoke about their experiences during the conflict.
Holywell has also been supportive of my big research project about immigrants in Derry/Londonderry. The immigrant population, especially from Eastern Europe, has greatly increased with the expanded European Union working provisions, and some groups have expressed difficulties living in Northern Irish society. In order to study this, I made contact with community worker Eddie Kerr of SEEDS, an immigrant group in Derry/Londonderry. He has been amazingly open to my research plan and helpful in organizing focus groups, interviews, and providing me with information.
"Belfast correspondent" Adree Wallace and program director Denise Crossan.
I'm also teaching myself to play the guitar (and picking it up quite fast, I have to say). I also have a great group of flatmates. It was a big help to be put in a flat with Northern Irish people my own age. Even though I am quite busy with everything, I wouldn't change it for anything.