By Bridget Galassini
We caught up with Bridget, an intern at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and asked her a few questions about her experiences in Dublin thus far.
What does your internship entail?
Daily, I focus on the Reconciliation Fund, which includes doing projects or tasks that help fund organisations, mainly in Northern Ireland, that promote peacebuilding and anti-sectarianism there. I also am involved in Ireland 2016, which is a huge year-long commemoration project meant to reflect on Irish history, like the events of 1916, and on the various Irish traditions that shape the country today. Our section works on funding and coordinating events abroad for the commemoration. (One is the documentary, 1916 – The Irish Rebellion, that Notre Dame’s very own Keough-Naughton Institute is producing! It will be included in Ireland 2016 events in many cities!)
What are you studying at ND and how does it relate to what you are doing here?
I am studying International Economics, International Peace Studies, and minoring in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. Really, it would be hard to find a job that is more suitable for Peace Studies than working in the Reconciliation Fund. Everyday, I see the need for peacebuilding and forgiveness and other themes that I have studied in class, and in my job I actually am helping achieve these in some way. Also, I work so much with budgets and funding, so I get to keep using my economics and math skills, and I love seeing the connection between both of my majors. I write a lot, does that count as using my journalism skills? I guess that’s partly why I volunteered for this newsletter interview. I miss journalism!
Describe your experience in Dublin thus far in 3 words
Buses, Cider, Friendliness
What are some of your favorite places to eat in the city?
-Emer’s Kitchen on Lower Leeson Street for scones, chocolate chip cookies, and whatever salad or quiche they have that day.
-Avoca in the basement.
-The Market bar like wow so good.
-Dandelion was very good actually but I was confused because I thought it was supposed to be a club but then I got this awesome salad like wow hi.
-Bunsen’s > Bobo’s.
-And next up is Butler’s for a chocolate shake or hot chocolate.
Describe one day at the internship that has stood out to you
I went on an overnight trip to Belfast and met organisations there that we fund, and I toured the city with DFA people there. It was amazing because it helped me understand my job so much better and also the context around the sectarianism in Northern Ireland. I just kept wondering how the separation could be fixed. I guess it’s just through little steps like what the organisations are already doing, but it’s still very sad to see how separated people are there. It was just shocking and amazing to actually see it.
Why do you think experiencing life abroad is important?
Living abroad forces you to think in a different way because the work environment, culture, people, customs, formalities, interactions, really everything is inevitably a little different, or a lot different. I lived in Santiago, Chile for five months, and constantly thinking and talking in another language and living in a very different world forced my brain to change in many ways for the better, and it forced me to grow as a person. Part of this growth is that I deeply understood a culture different than my own, which is really the main and most important part of experiencing life abroad, I think. Even here in Dublin where we still speak English, we have the opportunity to pick up customs or new ways of problem solving or doing things or communicating that we never would have used, and understand why they are used.
We meet people who influence us and teach us stories and lessons and give us friendships that otherwise we would not have made. We try new foods that we might bring home with us (for people who can actually cook). We pick up ways of interacting, like some of us might go back and say “cheers” more! Personally, I know that I want to go home and raise a chicken now because fresh eggs here are so much better than the ones at home. Anyway, my point is, living abroad challenges us because it makes us learn things about ourselves that we would not have and discover parts of the world and culture that we would not have and grow in ways that we would not have and meet people that we would not have, and isn’t it great that we have?