Today's featured blogger is Freyda Liswardi. Freyda shares her experience talking with locals over the past two weeks.
On the way to Glendalough, our tour guide (more on him later) asked the group what our favourite thing about Ireland is. The obvious answers could be the scenic views, the lovely food, experiencing Irish culture, or the charming shops.
Though all of these are very valid answers, what truly makes this trip to Ireland unforgettable is the people. These past two weeks I’ve been very fortunate to be able to speak to many locals, and the quality of conversation from Dubliners is something you’ll never experience anywhere else. The gift of gab is engraved into Irish culture. Every word comes from the heart and being spoken to makes you feel like you are the keeper of the book of life.
The perfect example of this is a woman named Kathleen, who owns the pop-up flower stand just down the road of our accommodation. After the first couple of times passing her, we finally properly got an introduction. Within the 10 minutes of speaking with her, she told us of her granddaughter, offered us a tour of the Liberties, and introduced us to two Garda (policemen). They also offered us a few stories about their job, and an Irish folktale.
A few days ago while having dinner at a French café, intrigued by my accent an elderly couple approached the table & joined. We fell into an hour-long conversation about their grandson of the same age, explained the history of the cobblestone we sat on, and their experience growing up in Ireland. The topic turned to my life in America, my love for literature, my time in this amazing country. They left, and I called for the cheque. However, the waitress explained that Jarlath and Orla had fully paid for my meal. On the table, they left the book ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce, the same novel I explained I wanted but was way too embarrassed to purchase in fear of looking like a stereotypical American tourist.
Our tour guide, fondly dubbed tour-guide-Tony by our programme, has convinced us that he is the all-knowing. He is able to turn bus rides to COVID tests into a history lesson, and doesn’t miss a beat whenever we ask questions, no matter how offsetting. During one of our stops at Phoenix Park, Tony spent 2+ hours answering questions about Irish history, political systems, social issues, as well as some personal anecdotes about his adventures here and around the world. He offers perspective that push the limits of our thinking, pushing us the process information outside of our norms, a skill I’ll be taking with me throughout my time.
These encounters are some I truly believe I couldn’t have in America, which boggles my mind because they happen daily here. Each individual has had a way of giving me the illusion that I’m the most important life in the world. As the curtain begins to draw on our time here, I’ve realised that my minutes with beings that speak through the soul is also wearing thin. I’m so grateful to have made the connections I have on this programme. I’ve learned so much through so many people, about myself, others, and the world. Hopefully, I’ve left a sliver of the impact on them as they have on me.
Thank you, Freyda! Your friendly demeanor makes you a great American ambassador and we are lucky to hear about your experiences.