Narratives from Northern Ireland
By Cole Hatcher
OWU Connection Opportunities Allow Students to Explore Conflict Resolution
Ohio Wesleyan students visited Northern Ireland for two weeks in May to examine the role of personal narratives in conflict resolution involving Catholic-Protestant issues.
Their OWU Connection experience – led by Amy Butcher, M.F.A., assistant professor of English, and Lisa Ho, associate chaplain – utilized a University-funded Theory-to-Practice Grant. Two of the student participants share their reflections, including how the travel-learning experience will help shape their futures.
Name: Anna L. Davies ’19
Minors: Journalism and History
Hometown: Saint Clairsville, Ohio
Lessons learned: “Regardless of familial history, living situation, or political and social affiliations, everyone has a story to tell and the desire to share is universal. So many modern-day social conflicts could be solved if both sides would be willing to set aside their opinions and try to understand what the opposition is fighting for.
“Instead of trying to see who can yell the loudest in the realm of protests and marches, we should instead respect each other’s opinions and ability to think for themselves. What I learned from this experience is that generalizations and refusal to listen can kill any hope of change, whether social, political, religious, or educational.
“What needs to happen around the world is a renewed commitment to compromising, respect, and an adamant refusal to judge anybody based on their world views. Mere labels can’t be what we use to judge people anymore.”
Why I chose Ohio Wesleyan: “First and foremost, I knew I wanted to travel abroad, so I loved The OWU Connection and the opportunities it presented. I also wanted to go to a school with a good English department so I could develop my writing skills. Third, I knew that a lot of the students at OWU had different political views than my own and I thought it’d be an interesting experience to spend four years of my life surrounded by vastly differing opinions. It fosters innovation and good compromising and debating skills, don’t you think?”
My plans after graduation: “My ultimate goal is to be a freelance writer/editor for a music-based online news site or magazine. I also want to get into radio and maybe host a music show at some point. Since I can remember, my dad has played independent and alternative rock around the house, and I think it’s so neat how much creativity goes into the production of each record.
“As a writer, I also love analyzing music lyrics and create my own interpretations of songs by looking at them as literature. I want to spend my life writing about, critiquing, and bringing attention to the creative innovations happening in the less-publicized side of the music world.”
Name: Courtney Dunne ’17
Majors: Journalism and Theatre
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Lessons learned: “I had an amazing experience, and I learned so much about my personal reporting abilities and preferences. I learned a lot of valuable lessons about storage and the type of video I want. I learned how to ask questions that may be hard sometimes.
“I cannot appreciate enough the value of going into an interview very prepared. If you know that you are going to be interviewing people about a certain conflict, you need to know the two sides and what they were fighting over. I think that the more informed you are as a reporter, the better off you are going to be. …
“[E]very student should find something that they are passionate about and write a grant because this was a transformative experience for me through not only our time interviewing people in Northern Ireland, but also our time at Corrymeela, a reconciliation center on the coast of Northern Ireland. Spending a few days there and learning what they are doing to rebuild their community and repair relations is something that we can bring back to school as well as any other communities we are a part of.”
Why I chose Ohio Wesleyan: “This has shaped my future plans. This has solidified for me that I want to be a journalist and spend my time telling people’s stories. This was such a great opportunity to do my job in a unique setting. This experience has prepared me for the real world. I chose to come to OWU because of programs like this.”
My plans after graduation: “My plans for post-graduation are still up in the air. I have a lot of jobs I am applying for, but … the experience that I have before I even go to find a job gives me the confidence that OWU has provided me with the skills I need to be successful.”