The week began with a final look through the program with the Euroclio gang. Let me thank the Euroclio folks for their absolute dedication to this project. I think that we are all in agreement; Alan, Sinead, Sean, Peter and myself, that it wouldn’t have been possible without your drive and input. There may have been more than a few frustrating moments. Some of these moments were undoubtedly caused by me. As we frequently say in these parts, ‘what are you going to do?’ It is important not to dwell on the past, or as the outgoing Minister of Education noted, running off script, ‘you can’t teach History.’ That was all a little puzzling?
Nevertheless, the initial City Cab driver did denote that it would be a lot better if we didn’t teach History. ‘What a load of balls on the falls?’ Well, there is only one ball that welcomes you to central Belfast. It is known as the ‘Westicle.’ I learned such gems, as I went out on a personal tour with Peter, a tour that gave me all the tools to lead a distinguished panel of guests around the Murals. I made a notable mistake. I located the infamous ‘Castlereagh Barracks’ in the wrong part of the city. What are you going to do? At least the story was good. All things considered. I think the tour of the Murals went well. Thanks to Peter.
Then there was the whole workshop thing. I worked on my workshop for the last year. I was really freaking out that I would let Euroclio down. Honestly. There is no doubt that I am an absolute ‘history geek,’ but with Alan dressing up as Gusty and the gang and Lesley giving her inspirational Prisoner to Peace talk, I was really under pressure. I enlisted as many friends and students that I could get. Thank goodness. Louise and Jamie kept me calm. My students were amazing. The perspectives represented gave a real picture of the multidimensionality that is Northern Ireland, the past, the interrupted future and the future that has yet to be determined. Personally, it was a great pleasure to introduce Terri Hooley to some of the dedicated delegates, as he proved that there was never anything without a twist in the Northern Ireland that was.
I should mention the Pub Quiz. Yes. I did read the first 300 pages of a book to get ready for the quiz. I tried to pick really obvious questions. I failed. Sorry about that! What are you going to do? One silver lining. The Movie Section was a lot of fun. I hope that everybody had a good laugh.
I forged great friendships. People that will always mean the world to me. I wasn’t being flippant when I spoke about the bus struggling up this and that hill. It was a golden moment. The bus struggling allowed me to chat endlessly to my new friends on the back seat. (I should note that one of my friends on the back seat commented, ‘stop talking about all of this conflict stuff; tell me where to get a good Northern Ireland whisky?’ Or words to that effect.) I really need to learn Spanish, because I am really impressed by the dedication and efforts that are going into next year. Fair play. It will be amazing. If you need any help on the International Pub Quiz, it might not be a good idea to ask me? Ha!!!
Action points. Never judge a book by it’s cover. (If you are preparing a quiz, make sure that you get to the end of the book!!!) Embrace the fact that the comfortable ‘me’ needs to constantly embrace the ‘uncomfortable’ to make a real difference. Work to ensure that Northern Ireland teachers get the opportunity to interact with the depth of opportunity and enlightenment that exists within a cross-cultural embrace.
The HTANI began as an abstract notion. It is beginning to become concrete.
I will add no more commentary on the Easter Rising and the Somme. You are the experts now.