Ellen Cosgrove, a PeacePlayers International Fellow in Northern Ireland since 2008, will be ending her time with the program at the end of this month. Below, she looks back at her time in Belfast and thanks everyone who’s been a part of it.
When I stepped off the plane in February 2008, I really had no idea what the next two and half years would hold. Now looking back at my time in Northern Ireland and with PeacePlayers, the feeling that I find overwhelming is one of gratitude. I feel gratitude for the complicated place that has been my home and the people who have taught me so much in my time here.
First off I would like to thank all of my PPI co-workers in Northern Ireland, the other global sites, D.C., and those who are no longer with the organization. Each individual I have worked with has taught me something and I have been very lucky to have their support during my time here. I am fortunate that the people I have worked with have become a family for me away from home and it will be very hard to say goodbye. I also owe a huge thank you to the board members, principals, teachers, community workers and everyone else whom I have had the pleasure to meet, work with and learn from.
Northern Ireland has given me quite a lot to be thankful for – from its fickle weather (that will always make me appreciate sun) to its breathtaking scenery that fills hundreds of my pictures. It’s a country with unique sayings, sometimes brutal humor and a distinctive local cuisine. The craic really has been “ninety” and I will never say no to more than one potato side dish with my dinner. You also can’t beat a place where you are never more than a block away from a “chippy” that can serve you up a delicious cheesy chips and gravy at almost any time of the day or night.
Jokes aside, it is the kids of Northern Ireland who I really need to thank the most. The enthusiasm and energy that they bring to all of our programs is the reason I get up in the morning. Their surprising honesty and poignant questions during discussions have challenged me to constantly think on my feet and never stop learning about the culture and conflict here. It is their comments and actions that also give me great hope for the future of NI and the world. Lastly, I would like to thank the kids of NI for teaching me how to have fun with sports again in a way that I have not experienced since I was a kid myself.
This fall I will be attending Brandeis University for a Masters program in Coexistence and Conflict. I look forward to reflecting on my experience and continuing on a similar career path. I may be moving on from PeacePlayers and Northern Ireland but I will never forget my time here and what I have learned. So thank you NI and don’t worry, I will be back!