I prepared one of the posts, left youthreporter open, and once finishing the blogpost I clicked on saving and well.. It asked me to log in again. So, the post is gone.
Let me give you an overview about February and March of my time in here. Our little international group in my organization is growing.
February. Recently as part of the NI Science Festival, I have been to an event called "Death Cafe" and to the "Sustainablity Fair". We went to several bars with live music. Went for a long walk from all the way from Seahill to Bangor, had lunch there and took the train back. There was another BBC concert- darkness and light- literally. Three of us went to see the Ulster Orchestra play. The seats weren't the best, especially compared to the ones we had before in the January concert, but the music was so much better this time around especially with the french conductor, Maxime Pascal. Besides the music he was actually the highlight of the concert.
One evening, after one of the girls had promised us to do a vegan moussaka- we had just put the moussake in the oven, our supervisior walks into the kitchen and asks for help, "Can some of you help me to put the cows back into the stall", and off we went. Apparently one of the locks at the fences was not locked properly and the gate being a bit open, add the rain and the wind, and you can't really blaim the cows to seek freedom than- right?
After a bit of blocking possible escape ways, clapping and "hey"ing, the cows were back in the stall and we went back to the kitchen.
The last weekend in February we ended in a Thai place for dinner- boy, were the guys working there happy to see us go, and went to The Points for some live music and Irish dancing. We- or maybe it was just me- didn't know that part of the pub-culture here means that pubs usually have live musicians especially during the weekends to entertain the guests. No one is paying them directly, but they are paid by the pub and with the drinks the guests are having.
On Wednesday, we are already having the first week of March, I finally went to one of the walking tours the city has to offer. It was sunny! And I was the only one who showed up for the tour of Belfast. What I have been noticing is, every time a person tells me something about Belfast, the Troubles or just Northern Ireland in general, I end up with the feeling of knowing just a tiny drop of a massive information ocean. Punk scene during the Troubles? Fake buildings in the city? Children of Peace? Little Italy in Belfast? Finn Maccol and the Salmon? Hit the North? Wolves?
After the overwhelming wave of information, I tried to have the next few days and weeks planned and received a long awaited message! HAPPY DAYS! And again, little did I know that all of these events and festivals were about to be cancelled and postponed one by one.
Shortly after that I met up with one of the guys from here and we slowly made our way to the concert at Clonard Monastery. One of my friends was there as well, and almost half way through two more guys joined us from our organization as well. If I am going to an event, I try not to have expectations or keep them very, very low. And well, I was thrilled. My heart was full. Music truly brings people together.
The weekend (Fr+Sa) was about diversity. Events at a women's centre, henna, knitting, shared international lunch, talk about feminism by a black female professor. And the march- starting from the Writers Square all the way to the City Hall where music and a lunch was waiting for us.
If people are not affected they don't realize how important diverse environments, feminist approaches and what it means to be in safe spaces mean- a couple of weeks ago I went to an event about the Maze Prison where the majority of the participants were white middle-aged men- talk about intimidation!). After the talks we went for coffee and donuts, had some drinks in an art exhibition where I knew one of the artists (!) and ended the night at The Points again- live music and Irish dancers and I even bumped into one of my friends- what a coincidence.
Second week of March is approaching, starting with a meeting in a pub in Ormeau Road for a festival which was meant to be happening in the end of the month, and I was meant to be volunteering during a couple of events. On my way there I met a couple of people I know, as always I am so surprised about a) how small Belfast is and b) I guess it's actually a good sign getting to know the city and its people.
Another important thing was the change of the group leader in the house I am volunteering. We had a team meeting over donuts to see how are the residents doing, and how things will change in the following weeks and months.
Our international group is growing as well. By now we have people from Spain(4), Italy(2), Croatia, France, Germany(4), Bulgaria- as of today (29.03) two Spanish volunteers are stuck in Spain, and one of the German girls decided to leave the projects after a week- but more on that and the circumstances probably in the following post.
Back to the second week of March, I went for a walk to Holywood and heard in a bookstore about the suggested four months of closing the schools from a mom with her two school children, very close to have a mental breakdown. And the sign on one of the pharmacys regarding the virus and symptoms situation.
On another day I was in Bangor, and finally having the time to visit the museum- where a very nice and patient museums worker was giving me an overview about the different areas of the museums, touching up on the Troubles here and there, talking about food in Turkey, Southgermany and India and in the end sending me home with suggested tours, hidden gems and so many flyers. My highlight was the visit to the walled garden close to the museum. I can not imagine how beautiful it will look during summer!
And it seems like the last time I was in Belfast was Friday, the 13, for the international meeting in the Sunflower Pub. There was some odd talkings about the virus, the desinfectant on the bar, and people elbow tapping others. I am glad the day after I went to the library in Holywood to stock up on books-just in case- and I'm glad I actually did.
Life seemed normal. How can a virus have the power to change our lives g-l-o-b-a-l-l-y? Yes, media plays a role. Yes, fear plays a role. Yes, politics play a huge role. But.. I don't know how to properly put my thoughts and emotions into words for the digital audience to read and understand. More on that on the next post.
Wherever you are, stay safe.