Welcome Friends! I hope you enjoy tasting these teaching and travel tidbits.
Come along with me as I attempt to navigate my way through a new country, school system, and life for a year!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Brilliant Belfast

Belfast's Leaning Clocktower

All the US Fulbright exchange teachers in the UK were given the opportunity to come together one last time for an "endcap" meeting in Belfast.  I've never been to Northern Ireland before, so I was really excited to see the area and connect with my Fulbright friends.  We all had an opportunity to share what we have experienced this year and to prepare for the transition back to our lives in the US.  We were also given a bus tour of Belfast.

The Big Fish is located at the confluence of the
River Farset and the River Lagan

Thanksgiving Sculpture by the River
I'm not really sure what this bit of public
art is all about.

The Speaker celebrates the tradition of public
speaking at the Custom House Square

Fulbrighters at the Peace Wall that separates Catholic and Protestant Belfasat 

Adding my message to the Peace Wall

Fulbright also treated us to a tour of the Titanic Museum

At our Endcap meeting, all the Fulbrighters gave presentations about their year.  It was so interesting to see what we had all accomplished!  Almost everyone else presented their year in lovely powerpoint form, but since I'm clueless about this technology, I presented my year in song.

Ballad of a Fulbright Year (Tune:  It's a Small, Small World)

It was a year of wonders, a year of tears, it fulfilled all my hopes and confirmed all my fears,
I just wasn't aware I'd spend most of the year,
Writing lesson plans.

Always writing lesson plans, never-ending lesson plans,
Detailed, leveled lesson plans,
For small, small kids

The National Curriculum is really intense, none of the acronyms make any sense,
But persevere, I did, because I really loved the kids,
For whom I was writing lesson plans.

The shadow of OFSTED loomed over all, we were scheduled for the summer but prepared for it since fall.
Assessment here is crazy, it isn't for the lazy,
And it informs our lesson plans.

I taught my class about Thanksgiving, for every lesson learned we'd find a song to sing,
About Washington and Lincoln and Martin Luther King,
It's all in my lesson plans.

I came to a decision very early on, that over holidays and weekends, I'd always be gone,
So I traveled far and wide, when I finally hit my stride,
Writing lesson plans.

Budapest, Bratislava, Turkey, Greece and Prague; Israel and Jordan (you'd know if you read my blog)
Paris and Rome, and London's close to home,
Where I write my lesson plans.

This year's been really brilliant even when I'm missing home, you can surely grow when you're outside your comfort zone,
I've learned lessons about life, I'll even be a better wife,
When I complete my lesson plans.

So I'd like to give Fulbright a big "Thank You" and to those at British Council, thanks to you, too!
To all my Fulbright friends, may your adventures never end,
Between writing lesson plans.  

On our second day in Belfast, the Fulbright teachers had an opportunity to visit some of the local schools.  I really enjoyed seeing other primary classes in action and the chance to talk to the teachers.

Irish and American Teachers and One Little Boy
Fulbright Class of 2012-2013

We ended our day by visiting some of the local pubs for a chance to hear some traditional music.

This band was really fun!

Fulbrighters at the Pub

Most of us were able to stay over the weekend for some additional sightseeing.  We rented a couple of cars and hit the road to the rocky islands of  Carrrick-a-Rede, which are connected by a rope bridge. 

Rugged Carrick-a-Rede Coast

Fearless Fulbrighters!

Me on the Bridge

The Rope Bridge

Tessa wasn't sure she could make it across, but she brilliantly
faced her fears and traversed the bridge in fine style!

We all made it to the other side!
The coast of Ireland is so beautiful!!

Our next destination was the Giant's Causeway.  I was so excited to see this area, as every year around St. Patrick's Day I read stories of the giants Finn McCool and Cuchulainn who are legendary here. 

The shape of the rocks is amazing!

Fulbrighters reaching new heights!

I'm walking in the footsteps of giants!

In the "Wishing Seat"

Amazing formations on the Giant's Causeway

Rebecca, Jessica and Niki in the Old Lady's Shoe

Natural Columns of the Giant's Causeway

Near the Giant's Causeway we made a quick stop at the ruins of
Dunluce Castle.

Another view of Dunluce Castle

Fulbrighters are always on a quest for knowledge, so we took
a tour of the Bushmills Distillery, Ireland's oldest whiskey distillery.

It was really wonderful to connect with the amazing teachers with whom I began my Fulbright journey.  We have all learned so much and have had so many incredible experiences this year.  

None of us will ever forget our "Year of Yes"!


  1. The lyrics to your song are hilarious! Pleased you got to go to giant's Causeway, it is stunning. Still plenty more adventures for you to have yet! *Cough**bruges**cough*

  2. Your song is hilarious! And brilliantly sums up your year!


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