Blessed – Shannon Visits Belfast

March 7th, 2014 | Uncategorized

As I get older, it has become evident that the only relationships worth having in life are ones that bring out the best in you, the ones that are genuine and make you want to be a better person. It’s something that has taken me a very long time to figure out, and something I’ve been trying very hard to live by. I don’t want to say that relationships that do not do this for you are a waste of time, because I have learned a lot from my relationships that have not done so. It’s more realizing that as you get older, it’s important to invest the most time and energy into relationships that are genuine and real. My parents have always tried to instill this in me, but I believe that it’s something only experiences will make you believe to be true. If you’re lucky to have a few real relationships in your life, you are truly blessed.

This past week, I was reminded that I am beyond blessed. I was lucky enough to have one of my closest friends come visit me here in Belfast for a week. Shannon and I met when we were Orientation Leaders at Boston College after our sophomore year, and instantly hit it off with our Philly connection. We both come from great families, have a strong faith, are independent and believe in the power of making a difference. For this reason, I was extremely excited to have her experience the life I have been living the past eight months. She most certainly got to experience this, in the best of ways! After a long day of traveling on Tuesday, Shannon spent the day exploring Dublin on her own. By the time she met up with me, she was definitely on a high because she had an amazing day exploring on her own. At night, she met up with me in Belfast, where she had the chance to bond with my fellow scholars. On Wednesday night, she joined me at our eHoops session with the West Belfast group. It was our tenth week with the group, and everyone was extremely welcoming to her. Marc even let her run her own group discussion, which she obviously took in her stride and did a great job doing!

On Thursday, my assistant coach, Carla, took us on a tour of Belfast. It was not the type of tour you would have on a regular bus, rather, we were able to get up close and personal in most of the areas. We both loved hearing the stories of her past, and what it was like growing up during the Troubles. From there, we stayed at the Dick residence to celebrate Breda’s birthday. For those who don’t know, Breda is my head coach, and her and her family have gone above and beyond to make my experience here a great one. To no surprise, they did the same with Shannon’s week long trip. On Saturday, we were able to spend the day in Dublin, where Shannon and Susie were able to see the Guinness Factory for the first time. We also were able to see Belfast Star win a big game against Marian, and have a great night out in Dublin with everyone.

On Sunday, we made a trip to Galway to see fellow Scholars Michele and Chris with Diana and Jared. The time spent with fellow scholars is always bound to be a great time, especially when the weather is beautiful. No surprise, Galway ended up being Shannon’s favorite place. It was everything she thought it would be, and I’m so happy she was able to experience it while the weather was gorgeous. It was a great way to end her trip.

Overall, I don’t think either of us could have asked for a better week. It was great having Shannon experience my daily life abroad. With all of my loved ones from home, I try my best to explain where I live, what I’m doing and who the kids are I’m working with, but it was really meaningful having someone from home experience it in person. Even more so, to make me realize how lucky I am to have met so many wonderful people on this journey. It meant so much to me to have these people I met just months ago to not only want my guest to have a great time on her visit, but to really make her feel at home. For a lot of the week, I had class work or volunteering to do, but two of my closest friends, Mairead and Susie, went out of their way to make sure Shannon was taken care of. It sounds crazy, but I really do feel like I will always have a home in Belfast with people who really care about me and the people I love. It’s more than I could have asked for out of this journey, and I could not be more grateful for the people I am fortunate enough to have in my life. These are the relationships that are worth investing time in, and that is why I am truly blessed. I thank Shannon for reminding me of this, and for sharing in my life here abroad! I know it will be a week we will always remember!

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