Posts Tagged With: Belfast

Seeing ’71

Monday was my day off so I spent it very responsibly…binge-watching the first season of Garfunkel and Oates and going to the movies.  I loved Garfunkel and Oates, more about it later though.

I was excited to see ’71.  It documents a British soldier’s experiences over a night in Belfast during The Troubles.  In 2012 I went to Belfast for two weeks with my school.  We learned about The Troubles and heard from active participants on either side.

I loved the movie.  I thought the story, the actors, the visual elements, and the production values were wonderful.  It feels like a documentary, which helped get you immediately invested.

I really enjoyed the costume design as well.  The soldier takes a sweater from a clothesline and I spent a few seconds debating if I could make it.  Being set in the 70s there were wonderful suits and fun short dresses.  The colour palette was very muted; a lot of neutrals with the men’s clothing and uniforms with brighter additions on the women and children.

The movie was fast-paced, packing a lot of story into a short amount of time.  At times I was a little skeptical about the events as they were unfolding, but it definitely helped to keep me interested in the story.  I was a little confused about who was on which side until almost the end of the movie; I’m not sure if that was intentional or if I didn’t pay enough attention, but the confusion lent itself very well to the “I don’t know who to trust” theme.

While ’71 might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I definitely recommend it.

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The Grand Old Duck of York

The Grand Old Duke of York…He had a thousand men…He marched them up the hill…He marched them down again…And when you’re up you’re up…

And when you’re down you’re down…

And when you’re only halfway up you’re neither up nor down!

When I saw this pub in Ireland I knew I had to get some pictures for the song.

The Grand Old Duke of York…

He had a thousand men…

He marched them up the hill…

He marched them down again…

And when you’re up you’re up…

And when you’re down you’re down…

And when you’re only halfway up you’re neither up nor down!

This is a song we sing at 4-H camp that is really fun because of the movement associated with it.
This past summer was my last year of being a camper which was incredibly sad for me, but I can’t be entirely sad because the West Virginia 4-H program has made me such a better person that I truly do not know where I would be without it.  I have spent the past ten years of my life being a 4-H member and these years have granted me some amazing experiences.  From the projects and camps to the lasting friendships, 4-H is one of the best programs for youths in America and in countries around the globe.

This past week I was in the Prichard lobby and some girls were talking about 4-H and I couldn’t help but join the conversation.  The one girl had mentioned going to OMC (Older Members’ Conference one of WV’s state 4-H camps) and I said that I had been there too.  She said she didn’t remember me being there and here’s what I said,

“Remember Friday night Council Circle?  That girl that was sobbing through the whole thing?  Yeah, that was me.”

And I didn’t cry the entire time just because it was the last night and I was going to be sad to go home the next day or because it wouldn’t be the same next year…I sobbed hysterically because I couldn’t imagine not ever coming back as a camper.  Because I didn’t know what I was going to do the next summer when I couldn’t go to any camps because I had aged out.  Because I was so incredibly happy to have gotten the opportunity to go to camp with all these wonderful, amazing people who understood just what 4-H is.  Because I knew that no matter what I would go on to do in life, the Friday night Council Circle of OMC 2012 would be one of the greatest moments of my life…And I still feel that way.  I still feel privileged to have participated in this program and especially to have gone until I aged out because not a lot of people get to do that.  In West Virginia 4-H is for ages 8-21 and once you hit the 18 year old mark kids start dropping out.  Life gets in the way; college, jobs, internships all prevent people from continuing in the program until they age out at 21, and I, very fortunately, had parents that loved what the program was and allowed me to continue in it.

I could write an entire blog about 4-H and never fully express the gratitude I have for the people that made this program so meaningful to me.

4-H is a program that emphasizes service to the surrounding community and while I was in Belfast we visited an organization that also valued service to their surrounding community.  The East Belfast Mission is sponsored by the Methodist Church and they have been working on rebuilding relations in East Belfast.

For a little history, Belfast is a city in Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom.  Northern Ireland, six of the nine counties of Ulster, is separate from the Republic of Ireland.  In the last century Belfast was the site of a large-scale conflict that lasted around 30 years, euphemistically known as The Troubles.  During The Troubles battle lines were drawn between the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and the IRA (Irish Republican Army).  These two paramilitary groups were mainly Protestant and Catholic respectively.  Since the Good Friday agreement in 1998 things have calmed down and settled in Belfast but many of the old prejudices remain.  Many organizations, like the East Belfast Mission, are focused on building relationships between the two sides.

While our group was in Northern Ireland we got many chances to listen to local people talk about life during The Troubles and the rebuilding after the Good Friday Agreement.  The women’s group that made the sculpture pictured above started as a group made up of nearly all Protestants; however their group was challenged to build a relationship with another women’s group that was mainly Catholic.  The group tried many new activities, including a writing class in which many members contributed works to a book that they presented to our class.  After listening to several of their poems we got to ask questions.  It was amazing hearing about the everyday problems of not only life during The Troubles but of the rebuilding afterwards.  The women talked about how they felt when they first talked about merging the two groups, of how nervous they were and that they didn’t know if they could get along with each other…ironic considering they now meet twice a month.

The Mission was a really neat place to visit because of how active they were.  They were in the process of building Skainos (a cross between affordable housing, a church, office space, and a community building) which should be finished at the end of October, when we were there.  I think it was so intriguing to me because I was never exposed to this kind of work growing up.  We always went to church, and my parents did some work with the church but my exposure to this kind of community service didn’t come until later in life.  I did some volunteering with organizations like the Girl Scouts and 4-H.  Seeing all the opportunities for volunteering in Northern Ireland made me realize how many opportunities there are at home as well.  I’m pretty excited to finish school and use the skills I’ve been taught to help other people.

It’s taken quite a while for me to finish and post this mainly because Our Town has kept me so busy almost every night with rehearsal from 6:30-10.  Luckily we are now in performances and will close this Saturday.  Being in the play has been a great experience and I’m thankful that I was a part of it.  I will also be thankful when I have time to sit down and write my papers for class.

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Lauren Mann

Writer of Words, Singer of Songs, Wanderer, Secret Keeper

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