On a Monday morning we were on a bus towards Bushmills for our OnArrivalTraining. The internet wasn't giving much information about the training away, so what can you expect from such training?
All I knew was we would get more information about the year in front of us as European volunteers. And information about the conflict. And of course getting to know other volunteers from different projects.
The bus ride was quick, the sun was out all day long which was nice, and within two hours we had already arrived at a place we would call home for the next few days: the Northern part of Northern Ireland, the place famous for its whiskey: Bushmills.
We were 7 volunteers, three from organization a, three from organization b and one from organization c. And two trainers. One of them flew in from England, and the other one is actually the one in charge of all the organizations participating in the ESC project.
On the first night at the OATraining we had fish and chips for dinner. The next day we had French onion soup, Indian daal and some crumble with apple and pears. One of the other volunteers is a patisserie student so she was the chef for the evening. We had a good laugh about the indirect way of communication over here in Northern Ireland which can go into the direction of confusion if you are not really aware of the speaking and using specific words, so I hope you won't mind me telling you about it?
Other topics were of course the conflict of Northern Ireland/Ireland, politics in general, our rights, expectations on our project, on the year..
There were some tips around the topic of living cheaply in NI. The training was part informal (most of it basically) and parts where you would talk to one or two people about something in particular or share your opinion in smaller groups.
I would have liked a day longer for the OATraining to a) digest all the information given and presented and have the time to ask specific questions in private without rushing and feeling like someone else is listening and b) to have time to connect with the other volunteers. We had this scheduled timetable with information after information and pair that with questions and examples from the volunteers and it already expands the given time for the training. Nevertheless I was grateful for this training and the trainers!
The way back from Bushmills to Belfast was quite silent. All seven of us were busy with the impressions of the past few days, with the arrival in Northern Ireland just recently.
A few of us tried to sleep, others were reading and mostly watching the changing scenery towards the countries capital.
The scheduled MidTermTraining would have been in three weeks time, but with the current situation it got cancelled. I hope at one point we will have the training. Given the space and opportunity to reflect on the past five to six months, seeing the others again or maybe even meeting new people?
With two of the girls I met during the OATraining I became friends, we met up on several occasions and overall I am glad that we actually had a small group. And it's nice to share our experiences with each other.