Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Study Abroad in Ireland

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I took this photo in Derry, a town in Northern Ireland which is still under British rule. Ireland has been effected by political troubles linked to a conflict between Irish nationalists who want their own free state (the Republic of Ireland) and British loyalists who want to remain under British rule (Northern Ireland). This conflict has persisted since Irish independence in the 1920s, though things have been mostly politically stable since the 1990s. There are still memorials and monuments dedicated to the conflict throughout Ireland, and finding these monuments in the Irish quarter of Derry was really striking.

Throughout the town there were murals and posters for various justice issues, including of course Irish nationalism, the Spanish civil war, Palestinian statehood, feminism, and so on. It was really powerful walking through town and seeing the cultural attitude for social justice memorialized.

My time in Ireland was not always characterized this way. There was a lot of casual antisemitism and Islamophobia in everyday conversation, as well as overt racism. Ireland is a very static society. Most people in the Irish Republic are white Catholics. There is a national sentiment for social justice, which was definitely in tension with casual or unintentional bigotry.

Still, Ireland is recovering from decades of their own struggle to maintain freedom after centuries of British rule, and hopefully that cultural value will continue to guide politics in Ireland to a more just environment.

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