International Student Intern

17th December 2013


Over the summer of 2013 we arranged an internship placement for an Italian post-graduate student here in SLIG. Ilaria spent 8 very enjoyable weeks; here’s what she had to say:

After six weeks of stay in west Belfast, everyday going into the SLIG office, living in a auto-defined Irish family, meeting a lot of persons working in the peace building industry (as somebody calls peace building and post conflict work), participating in the cultural local life and after thousands of conversations in front as so called “coffees” I absorbed some humorous attitude of local people toward life. To describe my experience is not enough to describe what I have done but I need to explain also how I felt in different situations adopting a humorous point of view.

Why humorous point of view? Humorous attitude is not as we often believe to laugh at situations and persons but it is an important tool to face the conflict and explore the “possible –different- worlds” [i]. Humour is the feeling of displacement that a person can try when he/she faces a situation that goes out from his/her normal way to see situations and things. Humour let us explore different definitions of situations, different solutions that we never considered before, that’s why humour can help us to find creative solutions to the conflict. One wee anecdote told by my professor, Marianella Sclavi, during the lectures: a guy from Senegal in Bologna commenting people bringing outside their dog for a walk: “I still don’t understand after few weeks here why there are these fat dogs in the streets dragging men with a rope!”. A different point of view, never expected. I will try to describe in this paper what I learned, what I understood, what I saw during these weeks, and I will do it with the lens of my previous experiences in conflict around the world. People that let me do this wonderful experience probably will see themselves as in a distorting mirror, maybe they will be surprise and will not recognize themselves reading how an Italian student felt living in a interface.

I want to thank all SLIG staff, especially my tutor Ciaran for the thousands of political conversations and explanations, for bringing me to meet a lot of interesting people and make me feel at home inviting me to stay with his wonderful family. I want to thank Suzanne that made me observing her work in Peace Walls programme and invite me to participate to cultural life of Suffolk. I thank Neil that makes football interesting, even for me, linking sport to the peace building work and to a wider context. I want to thank Robert because he let me do this valuable experience in SLIG.

I want to thank Joe and especially his lovely daughter Tania that offered me to stay in their house for all my internship period and they made me feel to be in a family.

I want to thank all the persons that dedicated to me some of their time for meeting and interviews and all the people that I met in streets and locals that just shared with me some chats.

I want to thank Vanessa, that chose to live in the cloudy Belfast and for that and many other reasons I admire her a lot, with whom I finally had the opportunity to talk in Italian and that explained to me a lot of things.

We at SLIG absolutely loved having Ilaria here and benefitted so much from her input. We wish her every success in her future career.

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