Welcome

So this week, I’ve had a better handle on the day and such. Things haven’t been totally passing me by and I had myself together enough to write some bits and bobs through the course of the week, as I typically have done. Hurray, routines are forming!

Anyway, I now have some standard shifts under my belt and I kind of even know what I’m doing. The job itself doesn’t really entail a whole lot, it’s mostly just making sure you know where students are, they get to where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there, and you handle problems and pass them off as the situation requires. Even the lateness of the hours hasn’t proved too much of a problem (yet).

There’s truly not much else to say about the job itself. Its activities don’t really merit a long discussion unless you’re the one actually doing it. In a broader sense, though, there are things that I’m still trying to figure out. As I’ve hinted before, my role here is primarily that I have a Role. Our head of school is fond of saying that we’re all teachers, all of the time.

Since it’s the beginning of the school year, I’m still getting to know people and routines and processes and all that jazz. In particular, I’m trying to get to know my three main charges. Which is hard largely because, as this blog has shown repeatedly, getting to know people isn’t my forte. So I’m working on that. Trying to be a compassionate and interested listener as I pry answers out of them. But I’m also trying to do something else.

I’m trying to create an atmosphere. Or, rather, participate in the creation of one. Most of the time, it’s not really a conscious choice, just how I am in situations where I don’t really feel totally comfortable. But I’m trying to be open and friendly and encouraging in each interaction I have–students, staff, whoever. The other staff here are also pretty excellent with that, so it’s not at all like I’m doing this on my own. But it’s something that I’m thinking about because it’s the first time I’ve really had occasion to do anything of the sort.

I titled this post Welcome because that’s what I think I’m striving for. Welcome, belonging, feeling at home. I wish this were a reality for more people in more places. At work, at school, at home, at church. Even at the grocery store, the dentist, the library. Everywhere has the possibility of giving that peace, few places manage it. Or so it seems to me.

The feeling of belonging is so elusive and so essential. It means so much to each individual as we move through school and work and life. How much more so for communities, for nations. On a note totally outside of this school but, I think, quite related, it’s got me thinking about immigration. And from there, living in diversity. And prison. And all the people that people don’t like.

I say it all the time and it kind of annoys even myself, but it’s such a thing that matters–and such a thing that seems to have so little traction right now. Jesus was very clear: love everyone. Welcome the immigrant, the homeless, the unclean, the criminal, the unpleasant, the different.

Thinking about the ‘American dream’ and how easy it is for people in power to snatch that dream from any and all. Also, I once said here “love the lukewarm” and I think about that a lot.

If we love only those who love us, we are shirking our responsibility, nay our opportunity to live in the Kingdom of Heaven. Love your enemies. Bless those who persecute you. Build welcome wherever you can, with whomever you find yourself, because we are all hoping to get it somewhere.

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Shel Silverstein wrote, “If you are a dreamer, come in.” Would that we could all offer such a welcome.

Fáilte

So here I am. In Dublin. Yay!

I didn’t write a post immediately upon arrival because my first few days were a lethargic mixture of tired, hungry, anxious, and terrified. Truth be told, I felt a little ill. This stems mostly from the fact that, while I had finally secured a place to live a couple days before I left, I wasn’t able to move in immediately because paying rent from another country is tricky. It was a whole thing arranging things with the landlady and setting everything up. But anyway, here I am, still alive, and set to move in hopefully by Monday. Then a couple weeks of looking for a part-time job, orientation, and classes start at the end of the month.

Ireland. Dublin. It’s a lot. Luckily for you guys, I have a whole year (at least) to describe it, so you’ll get it in manageable doses.

First, Dublin literally means overcast and chilly (misuse of literally, it actually means Black Pool). But all you Washingtonians will appreciate the fact that it’s very grey, always a chance of rain, and just generally “mild” in the worst sense of the word. And when it rains, sometimes it pours, but often it’s just a drizzle, or an inconsistent sprinkle, or a fine mist. It’s very much like Gig Harbor but a little colder in the summers and warmer in the winters. The average annual temperature variation is something like 65 – 45 (that may not really be accurate, but it’s thereabouts. I’m too lazy to look it up just now. You can–you’re obviously on a computer). Anyway, all that’s to say that I love it. Sweater weather all year round and green (surprise, Ireland is green).

Also, you can all sleep soundly, I have found a place that bakes pasties. An explanation on pasties (probably more than you really wanted to know but I don’t care, I love them). First, it’s pasty rhyming with fast-y, not pasty rhyming with tasty. Second, they were invented in Cornwall and I first indulged in them while studying in England at the University of Exeter (in Devon, the county adjacent to Cornwall). Basically, they’re a bit like English calzones, so that crust/pastry thing traditionally filled with potatoes, beef, and rutabagas (there’s a whole thing about alternative terms for rutabagas in England, but I won’t go into that now). Other varieties exist, like lamb & mint and steak & stilton. Suffice to say, they’re delicious and I love them. They’re not really a thing in Ireland, but I’ve found my place, so there’s that.

So the title of this post is ‘welcome’ in Irish (not Gaelic, Irish) and it’s pronounced Fall-chuh. Irish spelling and pronunciation are the absolute worst. Exhibit B: the Republic of Ireland (the southern, Catholic, most of the island part) is Poblacht na hÉireann. Yes, that is a lower case h in front of an upper case E. Because Irish is the worst. Of course, I still love it because it’s awesome and I love basically all minority languages. Fun fact, Irish is the most spoken Celtic language, both by population and proportion of population. The other Celtic languages are Scottish Gaelic (spoken in Scotland), Manx (spoken on the Isle of Mann), Welsh (spoken in Wales), Cornish (spoken in Cornwall), and Breton (spoken in Brittany). So that was a ginormous tangent, but I don’t care because minority languages yay!

I would be writing about my experiences in Ireland but, to this point, I haven’t really had any. I’ve just been wandering around the city, orienting my self, revisiting the sights I saw when I was here a couple years ago (which is to say, spring before last), and watching Netflix–which is the worst because most of my shows aren’t on Irish Netflix.

But anyway, there you have it. A bit of a disappointment in terms of first blog posts from a foreign country, but it’s honest and that’s all I can do. To make it worth your while, here are some pictures of the cutest cat in her cutest pose. I call it the “Don’t look at me world, I’m too shy.”

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Until next time, then, that’s all I have for you.