Friday, April 5, 2013

You can tell it’s ISP time when…

Well it certainly has been awhile since I have blogged! These past few weeks have been intense in terms of workload. I wrote a politics paper, a reflection on my Northern Ireland experience (totaling 12 pages), decided on the topic for my final project, wrote a proposal for my final project, and organized the logistics of my field study.

So now I am off to Derry (I’m typing away on the bus) to complete my independent study project. This is the unique uniting factor of all SIT programs: a one-month period to conduct a field study and produce a paper analyzing your findings. I have chosen to complete mine in the city of Derry in Northern Ireland. I have been fascinated with the topic of commemoration and memory in terms of the Northern Ireland conflict.

At first I thought about doing a project on the murals in Belfast as a form of commemoration that can provoke or hurt opposition groups, but this has been the focus of many other SIT Ireland ISPs and I wanted to do something a bit different. Then, my Academic Director, Aeveen, suggested I look into the Peace Bridge in Derry. The bridge opened in 2011 and is a pedestrian and cycling bridge that connects one bank of the River Foyle to the other. This might not seem significant, however, like many communities in Northern Ireland, Derry is a divided city. The Catholic majority stays on one side of the bank (with the exception of a small protestant community referred to as “The Fountain”) and the Protestant community lives on the other side. There has been very little interaction between these two groups, but in the past few years Derry seems to be making great strides in terms of the peace process. The bridge is meant to be a symbol of peace, but also encourage cross-community interaction. My project will be to examine if this bridge can overcome centuries of sectarian memory.

Peace Bridge in Derry

I have no idea where this project will take me, so I’m just going along for the ride!

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