After decades of conflict between those who wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom and those who wanted independence from the UK in order to become more connected with the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland is currently involved in the complex process of healing. It has been an honor and privilege to have been able to:
- Personally witness the long-term healing process continue to occur during that time
- Make contributions to the efforts of the Early-Years Organization to promote an appreciation diversity and conflict resolution skills in young children and share other aspects of my professional expertise with the early childhood community there, including giving keynote addresses at the 40th and 50th anniversary conferences of the Early-Years Organization.
- Bring Wheelock undergraduate and graduate students to Belfast for the past 10 years for a Service Learning Program on “How Education Can Help Communities Affected by War and Conflict Heal” from which students learn many skills about promoting diversity, conflict resolution and peace-building in their work in the United States.
Here is an example of what one Wheelock student, who had participated in this year’s program, has had to say about the value of the experience:
“The Northern Ireland Service Learning Trip has served a huge purpose in my life — I was able to absorb so much within a week that could never be replaced and I would never want to trade this experience for any others. It taught me so many things that are extremely relevant to the professional and personal aspects of my life. I truly pray that appreciation of diversity will become a more central and informed subject for future generations. Perhaps someday, people will be able to look at their differences and be able to live together in harmony and peace.”
– Desiree Ning Low (2015)