It has been so much fun to watch these eight young women sink into deeper relationships with each other. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group that gets along so well and enjoys each other’s company so much. Yesterday we met at Benedict’s after their hike, and the energy and laughter present as they shared stories about their morning was truly infectious. After a huge “carvery” meal, we headed back to Farset for a bit of a rest and a three hour long meeting to check in, do some intentional reflection on what we have experienced so far, and make some plans for the week ahead. Then, there was even a bit of energy left to watch a movie together in the dining room.
The Corrymeela Bus arrived right on time at 9:30 this morning, and before I knew it we were here, greeted by old friends (Richard, Yvonne, Martha, Paul, Kelsey, Mark, Desi, Shane, William ...) and new (Steph, Matthew, Tiff, and many we haven’t officially met yet). It felt slightly surreal to be back, as if no time had passed at all. The first thing Paul, the Centre Director told me was an unbelievable story – that they had recently interviewed a potential long term volunteer from Brazil who said that he had first heard about Corrymeela from a blog written by a woman named Martha. Really?? So he’s one of the 13,767? What a funny, mysterious and delightfully small world we live in.
Before long we had a session with Yvonne on sectarianism. Yvonne, who worked in the 90s as a Corrymeela Schools Worker, has done much research on sectarianism, and has developed resources and tools to work with children and youth about the subject. Sadly, Yvonne had to leave us today to be with her family and her gravely ill mother in Belfast. We were left in the capable hands of Steph and Matthew, long term volunteers, married to each other, originally from England but most recently from teaching in the Philipines.
They put the group through some of the Adventure Learning activities, activities for which Corrymeela is well known. These are cooperative games and tests which are used as a starting point for conversations afterwards about decision making, leadership and group dynamics. Our group was familiar with many of the activities, and aced most of them, as they have any of the ones I have offered them. Even Steph and Matthew were quite impressed at how they worked together to perform the tasks. Below are two of the activities – the first one – jumping from one stump to another, never leaving more than two stumps between two people, and never having their feet touch the ground. The second one is a a race on skies, and the third a rope game where they have to form a square with the rope while blindfolded. The other picture is the group at the end of their hike yesterday.
After another evening session with Steph and Matthew on Corrymeela’s work in the schools, we tried to order taxis to go to O’Connor’s, one of the 19 bars in the town of Ballycastle (“it has more bars per capita than any other town in Northern Ireland” said Steph) for a pint ... it would seem that the taxis aren’t running tonight. “It’s a sign” said I ... “or a mission” said Alana. .... whichever, we never did get a taxi, so it’s early to bed to get ready for a day trip to Derry tomorrow. Perhaps we’ll find a cab tomorrow night.