The social norms in Ireland are different than in America, even though there are still many similarities. For example, one thing I notice is that wherever I go there are numerous groups of individuals, whether Irish or of foreign descent, walking around. Many of them are tourists visiting the city, and when I pass by, I always notice the varying accents of the different groups. Moreover, when I walk throughout the city, I notice that individuals are casually strolling as they are talking, which is significantly different from what I experience in the big cities in America, where everyone seems to be in a rush.
More importantly, I see the different social interactions among children and adults at Fighting Words. Prior to coming to Ireland to study and volunteer, I did not really know what to expect from Fighting Words. I did some background research prior to starting, but when I arrived for my first day at Fighting Words for orientation, I realized it was a special place.
The first session was a refreshing experience for me. And every following session, the kids would have their own cliques or groups that talked a lot, especially during the initial story portion of the session. And then when they headed into their individual writing sessions, they would continue to talk, which is similar to my experiences being in class with my friends, especially in primary and secondary school, where I would always want to sit next to the boys and converse, even if I was supposed to be working.
The kids would always want to write the funniest, most outrageous stories to impress and make their friends laugh. It was hilarious sitting back and listening to the stories and reflecting on my own adolescence. I found myself being more interactive with the kids, talking to them, trying to get an idea of where they were coming from. However, since there is a new group of kids every week, it is hard to get to know them. I did have one interesting run-in with two boys in one of my sessions. It turned out that one of the boys was flying to America the next day and we talked about New York and President Trump and what we thought about him. The session ended before we could talk more, but that boy still is stuck in my mind.
In future sessions, I now have acquired better communication and small-talk skills to not only talk to my students, but also to kids my age, and also be able to adapt that conversation to speaking to adults. Volunteering at Fighting Words has been a breath of fresh air. It has provided me with an entirely new set of skills when I return to America, talking to my friends. It has been a great semester!