Wednesday, 29 June 2011

okay, so I'm a bit new at this ...

I'll ask for your patience as I get used to this form of communication. This is actually my first post, not my second. My first post was written by Hilary, who came over to my house the night before I left and walked me through the logistics of setting up a blog. Actually, it was a group effort - the entire Halifax GO Project leadership team of Sarah, Andrew, Alana and Hilary weighed in on everything from the name, to the background, to the font ... so ... thanks folks for launching me into this unknown world!

I've been trying to upload a few pictures, but for some reason, that's not working for me. One thing at a time I guess.

I arrived at Corrymeela, near Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, at about 5 pm yesterday after just about 24 hours of travel - 2 planes and three buses. It was an adventure, and included milling with several hundred school kids in various school uniforms as I waited at the bus terminal in Ballymena for the third bus of the day - the one that would take me to Ballycastle. I was dropped off at the beach in Ballycastle (where the bus stop is) and the driver pointed up on a high cliff at the end of the beach - "that's where you have to go ..."

"Thanks" I said, "but I think someone's coming to meet me." Which was a good thing, because no matter how much I tried to downsize and reduce, reduce, reduce, I still had a rather unmanageable 50 plus pound suitcase and a very overstuffed carry on, and a large purse. Alana came with me to the airport, shopping bag in hand, for whatever I might have to take out of the suitcase, but miraculously they let the extra poundage go. Thanks AC.

So I was kind of embarrassed when a few of the LTVs (Long Term Volunteers) met me at the door to Coventry House, the volunteer accommodations, to welcome me and to help with my stuff.  I guess I was hoping me and my big suitcase might slink in unnoticed ... but hey, three months is a long time, right? And the fact that I have everything in that suitcase put away on 14 hangers and two drawers is a great accomplishment for me. Turns out I didn't need the rain boots (but they are pink, and make such a fashion statement!) - they have a huge bin in one of the equipment rooms that is filled with "wellies" ... and Pat was right ... didn't need the travel iron (it was one of the last things to go) as there is a communal one here.

It's been a full 24 hours of orientation and community building. As well as the 9 LTVs who have been here since last September, young adults from 7 different countries (Germany, USA, Northern Ireland, Hungary, The Phillipines, Sweden, Cameroon), 13 summer volunteers also arrived yesterday, an hour after I did. They are also young adults, from around the world (Sweden, Finland, US, Netherlands, Ireland, Northern Ireland ...) who will be staying anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. In addition there are several other "mid-term volunteers" who like me will be staying for 3 months, and like me, are a "bit" older than the others. Two are from the US, and I am the only one from Canada.

Today one of the activities was a scavenger hunt around the buildings and grounds that the newbies had to go through, in teams, as a way of getting to know the staff, the culture, and the history of Corrymeela. Part of the exercise was to paint their faces in a certain way every time they answered a question. One of the instructions was to paint their noses blue. As I sat with lunch and throughout the afternoon with these 13 folks with blue noses, I couldn't resist telling them about "bluenosers" ... and how the name came to be. I'm not sure they believed me, but I felt a certain satisfaction at relating a bit of Nova Scotia history and folklore (not bad for an Upper Canadian, eh?)

Happy Canada Day folks ... next time I'll tell you about setting up my personal "shrine" with all my favourite icons and artifacts to remind me of home (no wonder the suitcase was so heavy, right?)



Sunday, 26 June 2011