Seeing what we saw in Derry made it hard not to pick a side. This is also something I’ve been internally struggling with before this trip began because of my strong Catholic identity and Irish heritage. I have felt a sort of loyalty to the Irish nationalists, and it’s hard to change that especially after what we saw in Derry. For the whole class, I’ve been trying to keep an open mind. I recognize that both sides have valid arguments and have also inflicted violence on the other side, but at this point, I’m still struggling to not take a side.

Moore, an exercise and sport science major from Plymouth,

North Carolina, found himself musing on larger issues—and wondering how such obvious signs of conflict and separation still exist in a country that declared peace 22 years ago. Te peace walls have gates that close at 7 pm nightly, and if you want to reach a part of town on the other side of the wall after that, you have to take the long way around them. Moore asked many of the local Irish citizens how they felt about the walls still being up. “If the walls were to be taken down, they don’t know what could possibly happen,” he said. “Tey don’t know how the other side is going to react to that. ‘Are they going to start being more violent again? Are they going to start throwing petrol bombs on us again?’ Tat was honestly something that I found very eye opening.” Of all the students on the trip, Takacs was the only Catholic.

She often found herself fielding questions about aspects of the religion from her classmates—and subconsciously siding with those who fought for her religion in Ireland. “I did feel myself wanting to side with them,” she said. “And I felt bad picking this side because this is all about peace and reconciliation and unity. But I definitely did feel some of that.” However, gaining greater insight into their own beliefs and

thought process surrounding those beliefs was one of the main goals of the class and the trip, Mowrey said. Takacs’ realization that she had a bias was exactly the outcome hoped for on the journey. For Moore, seeing how passionate about religion the people

he met in Ireland were helped him to examine his own actions around his Baptist faith. “Tey were willing to bring up why they believe in what

they believe in, why they support what they support,” he said. “It helped me go back and look back at myself and look at my faith

and figure out what ways I can improve in my faith—and be willing to show it and be unashamed and be proud of what I believe in.” Te group returned from

Ireland just days before the height of the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States. Tey were informed before their first class back on campus that it would be their final in-person meeting. For Mowrey, it was a bittersweet wrap on the class—and her

tenure at Queens. “As we were talking, I realized—I mean, I knew this at some

abstract level, but I hadn’t thought about it—that that was my last face-to-face class,” she said. She and her students cried about that, as well as the end of Mowrey’s teaching career. It was another learning moment for the class, though,

Mowrey said. Just as they observed on the trip that peace is an ongoing process with numerous unresolved aspects, many learned that life does not always have tidy endings. “I think most of us would like a simple picture, and it’s not

a simple picture—it’s multiple things at the same time,” Mowrey said. “How does that learning move us into our world? What can we take away from all of this that might be helpful not only academically, intellectually, but just in our everyday lives?” For the students who went to Northern Ireland, the lessons they learned will help them realize what their faith means to them personally and how they can use that insight in a positive way to better their communities and world. Te trip was just the beginning. 


ROSEMARY TAKACS ’20 Music Therapy major

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