This image is significant to my abroad experience since the tension between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is still felt, even though the two nations are at peace. The fight for a unified Ireland (or the continuance of a separated one) still exists and is still being fought. This is a picture on one of the many peace walls (or peace lines) in Northern Ireland. This particular one was located in Belfast. Even though I did not study abroad in Northern Ireland, this was still one of the most memorable pictures I took. The legacy of the Troubles (the time of bombings and political unrest in Northern Ireland) is still felt in Ireland. It was extremely powerful to be able to visit Northern Ireland and see the effects. Peace walls are a way to divide the Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods in Northern Ireland. They are also a physical way to see the underlying tension between the two sides. Each neighborhood is clearly marked by murals, graffiti, and flags of the religion (and therefore nation) the neighborhood sides with. The peace walls serve as a reminder that the peace in Northern Ireland is very fragile.
Everyone in my program was able to get out of our bus in Belfast and sign the peace wall. It was very powerful to see how many people had signed it and to be one of the people that had. You were able to see all of the tourists and locals who believe peace is a viable option for the island of Ireland. This picture is of something a person who had visited the wall previously had written. I loved that this person called for love, peace, and unity among the different sides. I liked this stranger’s optimism and hope.
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