Up until today I have struggled with the various things I could write. Do I just talk about what we have done each day? Creating almost a cataloged list of our itenaray? Or do I talk about how being here in Belfast makes me feel? I have found myself doing the latter, although I admit this might not be very interesting to those who have no traveled here or are distanced from everything happening here. However in talking about my feelings I wanted to showcase the immense strength of the people here and my impressions of their courage. I have not wanted to discuss with any great depth the hardships that have been experienced, nor the one’s that are still going on. Today I reflected on this and realized that part of this was because I wanted to put the focus on the positive. I wanted those who have not been here to understand my extreme appreciation for the people of Belfast. For the openess of heart which in spite of all the trauma in the many years of conflict is still one of the biggest parts of the culture here. I come from Saudi Arabia. A place which has a dark side, but who’s people are some of the most loving and generous in the world. When I talk about my home I choose to focus on that side of the story and this is the same for here.
I know many people have not wanted to visit Belfast because of The Troubles and many years of conflict. However I would argue that Belfast is so much more than that. Today we met with the Lord Mayor in the City Hall. This building which is steeped in one side of the history of this country is just recently trying to embrace the other side. The current Lord Mayor told about his desire for equality and mutual respect on all sides. This is the hope that I wish people would see and desire to experience by visiting here. In his honest and down to earth discussion about the current issues facing the people of Belfast I saw some of the past, but also a hope for a better future. My hope is now that people who travel Ireland would choose to visit both North and South to be a part of helping the people of Belfast create their new identity, including learning about all parts of the amazing history of these people.