Sunday, 27 July 2014

Thulie is back home in Swaziland

How was my experience in Ireland?

As cliché as it may sound, my time abroad was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I justified it with the professional experience I have gained through my placement. What I didn’t expect was the incredible amount of personal learning that took place. Deciding to move to Ireland…alone…to live and work for three months, completely changed my life.

Was I nervous to go to Ireland? 

This is my first time abroad and to stay away from home and family for such a long time and being away from my comfort zone. This made me to be more independent. I was nervous before leaving and once I got here, and towards the end of my 3 months…totally distraught over the thought of having to leave Ireland and return to the Swaziland.

What were my first impressions of Ireland?

Green. Rainy. Friendly. The countryside was absolutely beautiful, and everything was so vividly green. Pictures cannot do it justice. It also rains…a lot. I learned, though, that sunshiny days are just that much more special, and I really did get used to the rain. By the end of my trip, I hardly even noticed. I would just pull my hood up and keep on walking. And despite what can be some crummy weather, I came across some of the nicest people I have ever met. Throughout the course of my trip, I fell in love with the country – its history, its scenery, its music and its people. It became my home away from home.

What inspired you to travel to Ireland? 

I needed more work experience for my work in the diocese of Swaziland and being offered such an opportunity of an international experience would look even better on my resume. I love to travel and wanted to see more of the world. And a chance to go abroad just sounded like fun.
Interning in an English speaking country was a wonderful thing for me. I don’t know a second language and was a bit nervous about going abroad by myself to begin with. I didn’t feel like I needed that extra challenge. But coming to Ireland made me to appreciate its proximity to continental Europe and can travel or work anywhere if opportunities avail themselves thereafter.

What as your placement like? 

During the course of my stay, I worked primarily with All Saints Parish office doing office work. I also worked closely with the safeguarding and protection team led by Eileen and the youth worker Claire. My duties and responsibilities typically surrounded this project: Doing evaluations in parishes and the ones I’ve visited is the parish of Aghnaloo, Balteagh, Carrick and Tammlaghtard in Limavady and analyse the reports. As I also worked closely with the youth worker we use to prepare lessons for the different children groups which include: little saints, beavers, scouts, rainbows, brownies, guides, fuel Sunday school and ignite. These are activities run from Tuesday to Sunday. The youth worker is very innovative and this opened up my mind even though we don’t have the same facilities in Swaziland but we can do something without the facilities.
Because I worked in a parish with 2 ladies in the office only, I was able to develop a relationship with them and learn more about administrative skills. We chatted throughout the day, had tea together and will always keep in touch with them for assistance and friendship. Apart from the office I also did pastoral care with Rev. Malcom, we visited the old age home and conducting school assembly in Egliton primary school and Lisnagalven primary school. At Egliton Claire the youth worker also had a period with the p5’s class which I was also part of. Also had an opportunity have a session with Scribblers which is an afternoon class for children from various schools. Scriblers don’t aim to help children with school work but also do other activities which include play, learning to cook, taught discipline and a lot more. 
As I am working in an environment that consider children as a priority I also had an opportunity to visit centres that work with children and that includes Ebrington centre and Clooney centre action for children they work together but in different areas and not far from each other. Ebrington is place where the parents spend some time with the children and meeting other dads and moms and child minders and share ideas. These are parents who cannot cope with their children and end up disturbing the growth of children. Some are parents who have abused each other and are getting counselling from the centre. Also visited Derry view a centre for abused children.

What was your greatest challenge? 
Coming to terms with the work culture. It was amazing, and I enjoyed working with the two ladies in the office. However, it was very different (in a good way!) than anything I am used to. It was much more casual and less structured. I had to become more independent and self-sufficient than in my work place. Being with All Saints was a wonderful learning process for me. 

What was your greatest accomplishment?

Doing the evaluations in the parishes and reporting back to the safeguarding and child protection leader was such an achievement to me and have weekly tasks in the office that I was assigned to do.

Did you have any problems with the Irish language or understanding the Irish dialect/accent? 
There were definitely some people whose accent was harder to understand than others. For the most part though, I didn’t have a problem understanding.

How were your living arrangements?

I lived in the parish apartment that is attached to the parish office. I felt very safe in my apartment. I had my own room and bathroom, and living room we only shared the kitchen with the office which was not a problem with me.

What did you do in your free time? 

During my spare time I would take a walk from the waterside crossing the peace bridge to the city side or be in the house and watch television. But I would actually say that I didn’t have much free time. Most of the time I was in the house at about 9 or 10pm sometimes later than that.

Did you get a chance to travel?  
I would say I have travelled the whole of Londonderry and most areas in the north and some in the south. Londonderry is well known for its walls and it’s famously known as the wall city. I’ve walked around the walls and visited all the museums. I’ve visited the Giants causeway, Carrick Rope Bridge, Mussenden Temple and Bishop’s castle Hezlet house and gardens, Donegal, Portrush beach, Portsteward beach the list is endless.  

What was a typical meal in Ireland? 

Meat and potatoes.  I really enjoyed Irish meals the food is really nice. The country is actually quite diverse in restaurant options and the people can cook, so I never went hungry! One interesting thing I found was that the kitchen belong to the man than women. In most homes the food is prepared by the man even those who don’t cook they do the dishes and it was quite interesting. Young boys are always taught and encouraged to cook

What are your plans now that you are back in Swaziland?

Now it’s my time to give back to the church even if other opportunities are available I won’t be taking them for the time being there is something very important that God wants me to do for the Anglican Church in Swaziland.
I have plans for the safe guarding and protection of Children and adults, parenting young children and youth “teenagers”
And also have lessons for pregnant young girls. Have to have a way of how do we help them.

What advice would you give to someone travelling abroad?

Don’t take any moment for granted. It’s hard at the beginning, you will experience culture shock, but it is absolutely worth it. By the end of your time abroad, you will be wondering where it all went! Get to know the locals, explore the country, and have fun!

The most important thing you learned from your time abroad:

I am stronger than I thought I was and have the confidence now to face all challenges head on.