I remember learning about the IRA my junior year in high school when we did a lesson on terrorist groups, but I had not thought about it again until we visited Northern Ireland. I knew there were a lot of problems in Northern Ireland but I did not fully understand the extent of the violence. I also did not realize that the conflict is still going on and that the extreme violence has only recently been resolved. Seeing the Peace Walls and listening to two men on two different sides tell us about the same period of time was eye-opening. The things I could not wrap my head around were the reasons for fighting. It is all because of religion and politics and I just could not believe that people could be so strong in their opinions that they could not even be neighbors and just co-exist. I feel that it is a good thing to have opinions and things you believe in but when it gets to the point that you are violent with someone who does not share the same opinions or values, it is being taken too far. It is as if everyone needed to just evaluate why they were fighting and realize it was getting them nowhere.
I really enjoyed all of the different tours we went on and all of the people we met. It was great to get so many perspectives and listen to different people who were there. The part of the trip that struck me the most was when we saw the movie of how they made the play about the Troubles with men who had been a part of the violence. It gave us a great insight into just how big the disagreement between the Catholics/Nationalist and the Protestants/Unionists was. When I was talking about it afterwards with other students, we all agreed that it was amazing to see that two of the men who were on opposite sides of the conflict were saying they are now best friends. It kind of gave us a little hope for all of the conflicts going on around the world right now and made us wonder why if they can settle their differences and be peaceful, why can’t everyone do the same?