Reprinted from The Words

With only a few weeks left in the semester, English major Ava Bindas ’17 gives us a look into her life abroad. While she’s experiencing a unique learning opportunity in Northern Ireland, we are excited to see her back in the department in the spring!

I’m spending my semester in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Derry, as most people call the city, is a lovely stomping ground – excellent for traveling by foot, but big enough to never get bored; it shows its history, both rich and turbulent. This frequently-forgotten part of the United Kingdom is known for its contentious, sectarian past conflict, the Troubles. I came here to study this conflict, as well as the peace process that is now underway. In a way that I feel properly reflects the aims of my program, my nine other program-mates and I take part in full-time internships here, and go on field visits in addition to classroom lessons one day each week. 

I’m lucky to have landed at the Verbal Arts Centre for my internship. I spend four days each week in a brick schoolhouse that is as old as Northern Ireland, right beyond the city centre, that houses the Verbal. During my time here, I’m working on two projects: the first is called Reading Rooms, which is a shared literacy project seeking to empower frequently marginalized communities through reading quality literature, and the second is a drama workshop called Crows on the Wire, which seeks to shed a new, humane light on the previous police force of Northern Ireland to communities that might be unaware or prejudiced. These projects aren’t explicitly part of the peace agreement in place, but they do work incredible in the spirit of peace.

I’m learning while in the classroom or when visiting different areas about the tremendously difficult – and at times, seemingly impossible – process of reconciling the past. But I’m certainly gleaning the most from the stories I hear when leading a Reading Room, or at a pub on a Friday, or photocopying poems at the office. I can’t wait to share a few of my own stories of my time here this spring at Mac.

December 3 2015

Back to top