Day 7 – Belfast, Northern Ireland

IMG_1087It’s been a wonderful week in Dublin. We’ve had some really terrific experiences, some planned and anticipated and others serendipitous and truly the best of ‘in context’ learning. I’ve been very proud of how students have progressed and taken, so seriously and passionately, their individual and group learning tasks and opportunities. Their blogging practice and grown and developed and they are discussing content and design aspects of everyone’s blogs – a beautiful peer learning experience. After our group excursions, discussions and other learning activities, students have time to explore, rest, research and blog. They’re getting together in various rooms and having blogging parties –discussing their research and contextualizing what they have learned, as we go –pretty cool! I am loving taking this journey with them and watching their understanding grow and deepen.

IMG_1090We take a bus from Dublin to Belfast and it gives everyone a chance to read, rest, and reflect. It’s been an intense week in Dublin – learning to navigate another culture, a foreign place, self in unknown places and circumstances. We’ve kept busy and engaged and learning has been fast and deep and wondrous. Now, on the bus, we are all able to breathe a bit and to reflect on the past week as we anticipate a new city, a new country, a new culture – and how we might position ourselves within all of those things. The bus ride is a beautiful, restful, slow way to wind down a bit and to take in the gorgeous countryside as we prepare for Belfast.

IMG_1093Arriving at the Europa bus station (which still, to this day, does not allow luggage lockers – an enduring consequence of The Troubles), it is lashing rain and we decide to take taxis to our Guest House rather than walk the 20 minutes there. It’s a quick ride, and we split the fare – well worth it considering all of the electronic equipment that everyone has. The Guest House is a lovely, large Victorian house that has been redone (but still retains some unique and older touches) and will serve as a comfortable base from which to wander and explore.

The day is a bit rainy and grey, but later, the sun comes out for a gentle, beautiful evening – everyone scatters in pairs and larger groups to explore and then rest a bit before we begin with a class excursion, in the morning. We are just minutes away from Queen’s University, a lovely neighborhood, and not far from the city centre. It’s a beautiful thing to see the students more relaxed and confident in these new surroundings. They’ve learned many profound lessons from their experiences in Dublin and I see them taking on new challenges with curiosity, cultural respect and a newfound sense of exploration and excitement – quite wonderful!

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