Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Closing our journey

Having the task of completing my blog for the last day of our trip is a difficult one. All I can think of doing is to look back and reflect on each day and the individual aspects of the days that attributed to this comparative education journey that we all took together. I apologize up front for any lengthiness my blog has to offer, for I have a lot to say.

At the beginning we awaited to board our plane to Atlanta, which would then lead us to Ireland. We were all still unacquainted for the most part, and looking forward to a trip to Ireland, no matter whom we were surrounded by.  Our main focus at that moment was “wow I am going to Ireland!” Or it could have been “We are going to crash,” “We are going to be TAKEN,” and “Our luggage will be lost.” Whatever the focus we were in way prepared for what was going to happen to us in Ireland.

A journey to Ireland was not just going to learn about our topic of focus; it was learning and growing both intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and as human beings in general. We will all leave this trip changed in some manner for the rest of our lives. How we may have changed and what we took from this trip varies for each of us, for we are all our own person. 

Getting to know the individuals in this group was the greatest pleasure of all. They made the trip for me. Seeing the free spirits and happy faces everyday made my day no matter the weather or conditions we would face. Each person had something different to offer, which means I had the honor to learn something from someone. The art therapy group had different classes and meeting for most of the trip. To reconvene- and here what their experiences and learned was informative. Although, they were not going in with the same objectives, I can use their knowledge and skills to help better me as a teacher and human being.

Each day my most valued part was observing everything that was happening around me. Listening to the citizens of Ireland speaking and watching them interact taught me a lot about their culture. I learned that they are united in love in Ireland.  They do what is best for the whole and not what is profitable. Each day I personally was uplifted by the love and care given to me at no cost.  Learning their language compared to ours, sharing knowledge, and speaking honestly felt AMAZING. Sometimes we can be so guarded and afraid to share our thinking and share with the world who we are, in Ireland I felt I had no issue doing that within that community. Feeling that comfortable was never an expectation of mine. Especially experiencing street artists, bands, singers, and dancers was a sight to see. It was nice to see that our cultures blended in places such as that.  

The days in Limerick embodied joy and wholeness in me. When we arrived in to our spiritual walk with the Fr. Michael Wall, or as I call it marching with the priest, I have not expected to go on such a journey in 3 short hours. After the first beautiful scene I saw, I realize I forgot my phone to capture that moment. At first I was extremely bummed, but I realized that we all took the same picture 19 times anyway, so I could borrow the images others captured. Forgetting my camera was the best thing that ever happened to me. I did not have to stop and worry about taking pictures the whole time. I was able to walk and observe everything going on around me, breathing in the air, listening to the wind and plants move, watching as the landscape changed throughout this walk. I was finally able to really experience Ireland. What resonated me the most, was knowing people made this same journey to practice their religion and beliefs in secret when Catholicism was oppressed in Ireland. To go to such great lengths to do what you believe in is heroic at the least. After my march with Fr. WallI felt rejuvenated.

Cliffs of Moher! Woo-wee that was another experience I will take with me forever. It is hard to explain how I felt. Seeing such a beautiful and wonderful sight was breathtaking. Our small group ventured to the side that has a no liability warning sign. Are we crazy? We may be, but we had a spectacular time. Gathering up the courage, we creped close to edge on many occasions to get a better view, or take an interesting picture. Whatever the reason, we all pushed past our boundaries and made our experience one to never forget.

Aside form the Limerick experiences, I absolutely loved going to the Morning Star school. I was in Early Childhood HEAVEN. It was interesting to see their teacher qualifications, ratios, early intervention, and the school as a whole.  I could have spent my entire trip in the schools. I was disappointed to miss the protest in Cork for better conditions for the Early Childhood Educators in Ireland, for we too have the same issues they face in America.

Kissing the Blarney rock, running in a rain storm in Kerry, walking the beaches, hiking up a waterfall, taking a spiritual walk, visiting castles, walking everywhere, taking taxis/trains/planes/buses, trying new foods, eating locally, renaissance castle dinner experience, visiting colleges, attending lectures, visiting schools, hanging on the cliffs, lugging around luggage, dancing and singing, depriving ourselves of sleep, and taking the “best picture” made this trip with all my certainty an everlasting event in our lives.

Closing our trip with a kayaking adventure down the Liffey River in Dublin. This was an experience of a lifetime. The city tends to be hectic and loud with all the people, taxis, and cars. However on the river all that noise faded away creating a mesmerizing outing. As we paddled along the six our us (two per Kayak) didn’t have to stay along side one another, or race (although we did one time through a bridge), we simply enjoyed the journey along the river. Listening to the water flow, the oars splashing through, the breeze passing by, and the seagulls flocking with the warm sun shining down on our faces was surreal.  Kayaking was an opportunity to see the city from a different standpoint and was outside of the typical “tourist” things we did. It was the best end to our trip.

In true Irish Spirit I leave all my LOVES with an Irish Blessing:
“May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.”

--Whitney Thompson-Martin

Street art in Cork

Bridget Donoghue and old man at bus station

Blarney stone

Enjoying the view at the Cliffs of Moher

Reinassance dinner at the Knappogue Castle

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