Today was another BEAUTIFUL day here in Belfast. The weather has been 70 and sunny since we got here which is unlike the clouds and rain we were warned about. Today we met with a panel of local professors to discuss the history, and current troubles between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. Ireland has never been a diverse island, so rather than racial violence, like in America, they have had years of religious conflicts. However, the two sides are not fighting over religious beliefs, but rather a power struggle of two cultures. Although, the times have been more peaceful since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the issues still remain evident. As we toured Belfast today the neighborhoods and homes were proudly claiming their specific colors. The Unionists, Loyalists, or Protestants loudly represent the Union Jack of the UK. The Republicans, Nationalists, or Catholics loudly represent the Republic of Ireland colors of green, white, and orange. Dividing the two neighborhoods lies a giant wall, ironically known as the Peace Wall, which we visited today. The mammoth 18 foot wall was built so people could not shoot or throw objects at their rival neighbors. Standing in front of the wall today was bittersweet, because I had knowledge of the violence it represents, but admired the breathtaking beauty of the artwork and poetry that cover the walls today.
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