Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Day 4 We like sheep

What is it about baby lambs that turn everyone into a little puddle of mush? This is the time of year for it ... they are everywhere, including the adjacent field at Corrymeela. The scene of a field full of sheep which greeted me every morning when  I lived here for three months was always very comforting. I was surprised this morning to see a bunch of the little ones all together, exploring and playing. Usually they seem to stay pretty close to their mothers. Find a baby lamb, and the mother is nearby. I guess there was a feeling of safety on both parts - mother and offspring, for them to be straying a bit.

Day 4 was spent with Susan McEwan, Head of Programme at Corrymeela,  and Karin Eyben, Multidisciplinary Programme Worker, about peace and gender. Both women have a long history and much experience working in the field of peace and reconciliation. Over the course of the morning we heard how women's voices and experiences have been largely unheard in the peace process, and also in the retelling of the history. In a society where patriarchy and militarism have been the dominant influences for generations, it is hard to make change. Even the language can be symbolic. Often we hear the words "building peace", but even that evokes male imagery. Susan several times offered the image of weaving, which for me feels more holistic and inclusive. Susan offered us some questions to ask as we continue to learn ... how do politicians constantly speak a language of war? As we tour the city of Belfast tomorrow, where do we see the symbols of a cultural war and what is the gender analysis of the murals? Karin offered us a model for looking at the intersectionality of identities, and case studies from her work which helped us look at the role of the media, where we find women's power, and to begin to hear the voices of women. It gave us lots to think about as we move through the week.

Wednesday afternoon folks had a well deserved break. Some walked into Ballycastle, some went to the Giant's Causeway, some slept, some got caught up on work that needed to be done.

Thursday is a day back in Belfast. Paul has lined up a number of speakers and activities, including the leader of the Corrymeela community, Padraig O Tuama.

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