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A newsletter by Headliners Foyle Issue 4
INSIDE: THE CHINESE COMMUNITY ON LIFE IN THE NORTH WEST YOUNG PEOPLE ON PEACE BUILDING
Cover illustration by Celine Rzychon,17
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contents A BRIEF LOOK AT WHAT’S IN THIS ISSUE...
Since the last ‘My Generation’ Headliners Foyle has worked on several Peace III Intergenerational projects interviewing young and older generations from Protestant and Catholic communities as well as people from an ethnic minority community in the North West.
Page 2: Editor’s letter
We have worked with young people from YMCA, Drumahoe; mixed age groups of people from the Chinese community at the ACE coffee mornings; as well as people of all ages through our Saturday bureau work. In the coming pages, you will get a flavour for our work with each of these groups, through interviews, articles and photographs. All of Headliners Foyle work can be seen on the Headliners websites at www.headliners.org and the Headliners radio website at: www.headlinersradio.org
Page 3: YMCA Drumahoe taster Pages 4 and 5: ACE Venture! Members of the Chinese community living in the North West share their experiences in interview Pages 6 and 7: Diversity and identity photography exhibition Pages 8 and 9: City of Culture, City of Nurture? Opinions from the public on the benefits of being UK City of Culture for both the young and older generations Pages 10 and 11: Should I stay or should I go? Foyle Bureau members weigh up the pros and cons of coming from the North West Page 12: Headliners Foyle contact details
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ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? I chat to plenty of old people; I chat to plenty of people of diﬀerent ages. I like hearing what the older generation have to say, it’s prey funny, the stories. Dylan, 16
I don’t really care, I just go with the flow. I don’t care what religion people are, I was brought up to get along with as many people as I can. Charlie, 16
SHANAGH from YMCA grills Dylan as part of a Headliners project recently completed under Peace III (left). The young people examined everything from the interface area where many of them live to intergenerational relationships in their communities. Full interviews to feature in the next edition of My Generation but for now enjoy these tasters...
I’ve been over the town and people have asked me my religion and I have to lie about it just to feel safe.
Where I live, the wains run about, they don’t even know anything about their religion, but they’re at every protest going and puing up flags all over the place.
Fergus, 17 Lauren, 15
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IF YOU ASK ME... Vivian from ACE gives full and frank answers in an interview with Audrey from Headliners.
My name is Vivian and I am 33 years old. I was born in China so I also have a Chinese name but I don’t use it here because people can’t pronounce it. People are very friendly here, it is very clean and when you go out on the street and meet someone with a big smile on their face it brightens up your day. I’m sure there have been one or two incidents of racism over the years but sometimes you bite your lip, that’s all you can do. I’m married to an Irish man so I grow into the community very well, I worked in community radio in the past, I work in a local shop and I now work in the community college. A lot of people know me better than my husband! I think the most difficult thing about living here is communication for Chinese. I suppose people are busy with their own things, you could never get a really tight community like it would be at home. A lot of people experience isolation in one way or another. A lot of Chinese people come here without English so for many they don’t know how to communicate. For many day-to-day things - visiting the GP, speaking to teachers at school - children have to be the interpreter. My little boy is four years old. English is his first language, he’s trying to learn Chinese. I want him growing up with Chinese and Irish culture together. It’s important he speaks Chinese because all my family is there and it’s important he can speak to them.
Everybody needs to do more to help Chinese people feel safe here. Chinese people themselves need to give a more positive image of the Chinese community. They need to start from very young children. Once they don’t start to see you differently, then there is no difference. We’ve been doing lots of Chinese workshops in schools, we feel very welcome. When these children grow up, they are the future, so if they see the world differently, it’s really important.
‘In China, the whole family live together ... you feel connected’
Christian. I don’t really see the difference. We have the same God who helps us and gives us all we need. We all serve the same God, why would worship of God divide people? He teaches us to be good, I find it very confusing. It was something I was told not to talk about, politics and religion, when I came here. I just think if everybody did their part, did good deeds instead of evil, God will be pleased.
‘If you know young people, they are not that scary!’ Before I knew any young people here, I drove past them sitting in the dark and the rain, under the roof of a shop, making lots of noise, I’d be frightened, just thinking, ‘I don’t know what’ll happen next’ - that was when I first came over here. Then I was working in a local shop and the young people would come in and chat, ask about my little boy. If you know them personally, they are not that scary! If I see them now, I wave, some people think I’m crazy but they are friendly! There are important steps in life, just because they speak and dress differently, it doesn’t mean they’re bad, just teenagers. I believe every one of us has our rebellious time as well! I think young people get a bad press because anything good, you never hear it. Anything bad spreads fast, whether you want it or not. If young people, just one or two, for some reason -bad day, bad influence - make a mistake, they become a sample of young people. But just because one or two does it, doesn’t mean all of them are bad.
In China, the whole family live together, grandparents look after young children when parents go out to work and when parents come home, food is ready. I grew up in that environment, it’s nice everybody together at dinner-time, people talk about things, you feel connected to people, it’s a real family setting. Here children leave home earlier, but it’s nice to bring grandchildren to grandparents as often as possible.Those grandparents may feel lonely, even if they’ve their own lives, they may miss their grandchildren and their sons and daughters.
I’m sure some places have problems with young people at a difficult part of their life who can make other people’s life hell, but it’s a problem everyone needs to look into and find their reasons and hopefully solve it.
I don’t understand the Protestant and Catholic division in Derry because I grew up in China with no religion. When I grew up I met a foreign teacher who told me about Christianity and I became a Christian. When people ask if I’m Catholic or Protestant, I say I’m a
It’s maybe not easy, it could take years of hard work but if we can soften up the heart, I’m sure everyone wants to be good and helpful, wants to see their children grow up, enjoy life, they want to do that out of choice but some just don’t have any choice.
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ACE venture! Members of the Chinese community tell us in their own words about life in the North West
RACE, language and intergenerational issues were the hot topics when Headliner’s Foyle dropped into the weekly coﬀee mornings organised by ACE (Active Citizens Engaged) group at Alexander House. Founded by Karen Scrivens, ACE aims to support older people and build community relations in the North West and attracts many Chinese-born people of all ages now living in the area. We wondered how integrated they felt in their adopted home town. Had racism raised its ugly head in their day-to-day dealings? Was the Western way of families living separately at odds with their own way of life? Did the sectarian conﬂict blight their lives like it had the locally-born residents? What were their lives here like? The friendly group were happy to share their views and experiences with Headliners young people over a cuppa. Few said racism had featured in their lives in the North West and most felt it was a safe and peaceful place to live.
to you okay but [for medical language] I don’t have a clue, I couldn’t answer. I said ‘I need an interpreter!’ I have to scream at them before they will even give me an interpreter to translate, then they gave me an interpreter so then I’m happy. I said ‘What do you want me to come over for? There’s no interpreter for me. How can I answer to you? If you tell me something, I won’t have a clue!’ Tuesday morning was my operation and on Monday night, 8 o’clock, the night before my operation, they then brought me an interpreter. The next time I went for a check-up I asked to go to Derry Hospital, so they transferred me to Derry Hospital and they gave me an interpreter every single time then, I was happy enough.” Alice also had the support of her daughter who helps when her own language skills are lacking.
‘Care of the elderly is a family responsibility, not for an outsider’
ISOLATION Isolation is possibly the biggest issue, or barrier, for many in the group. Despite having lived here for decades, some still struggle beyond basic English and without the necessary language skills, some can at times feel disconnected from those around them. Alice, in particular, found it hard both to understand and be understood when she was ill and had to spend time in hospital in Belfast.
LANGUAGE Alice said: “In 2011 I was in hospital for three months. Every time I look for an interpreter, they say ‘Your English is okay, you can manage’. But I don’t, I can talk
Lisa added: “Language is the hardest thing living here. Three children and a husband, I had to ﬁt [around] the family, full-time mum, I couldn’t go to school [to learn English]. The children speak perfect English but I spent lots and lots of time in house seeing to them. Here (ACE) people understand. You see the people happy.”
ACE Alice added: “[ACE coﬀee mornings] very good, I made more friends, more jokes and more fun. We speak in Chinese. The local people help me a lot.” Family and intergenerational relationships are key to Chinese culture. Families there live together and support one another – the older generation cares for the children and in turn they are taken care of in their old age by the younger generation. As Wan put it, looking after the elderly is ‘a family responsibility, not for an outsider’.
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THE CAMERA NEVER LIES... In a city steeped in history and culture with flags flying high, murals galore, language clashes, curbs painted bright, peace bridges and peace walls it can be refreshing to look at age-old reminders of war, division and culture in a new light. A group of Headliners young people
took to the streets of Derry on a sunny winter Saturday with their imaginations in tow and cameras in hand to do just that. They were asked to consider at what stage or level they feel sectarianism stands in the city today and how that stands with the
fact that the city has been awarded UK city of culture 2013 status. Showcased here are the photographs they took and why...
KATIE: Natural light blocked by a City of Culture 2013 display. Representing how being branded as UK City of Culture could prevent us from progressing away from our troubled past. This photo also represents how City of Culture may give us false hope for the future; the man-made sign is only allowing some of the natural light through.
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RIGHT: Grace - I took this photograph because I felt it captured the oxymoronic tug-of-war mixing pot in my identity of what I feel is right and fair when my religion is always in the background especially because religion has so influenced what I believe to be right and good in the world. I liked the way it juxtaposed religion with the cathedral’s cross in the background, with the power of the state with the courthouse in the foreground. I liked the way that the scales were present held by the statue symbolising how I try to weigh up what my identity is and how much weight I give to religion in that, especially when politics here is split down religious lines more than anywhere in the UK. I wanted to show how sometimes I felt like I was betraying my religious or community identity when I tried to moderate away from it.
LEFT: Becca - HEIGHT SIGN PHOTO – SAME DIFFERENCE: This picture had a basic concept – although things look different on the surface, they can mean the same thing. It’s true though, and applies to all of us. It doesn’t matter so much what we are on the surface. What really matters is who we are underneath!
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City of Culture City of Nurture? UK City of Culture is just the latest in a long line of titles to be bestowed on Northern Ireland’s second city. It really is a case of ‘take your pick’ for what you want to call it! It has been hailed as the birthplace of civil rights, is the oldest continuously inhabited place in Ireland and the country’s only intact walled city. It has been victim to some of the darkest days of the Troubles and a deep sectarian divide still remains with fewer than 500 Protestants living in its west bank. But is a new legacy about to be unravelled as a result of the city being named UK City of Culture 2013? Derry is the inaugural holder of the award, a government backed initiative, which aims to bring social and economic benefits to the area, akin to that of Liverpool’s success when it was European City of Culture in 2008. When the UK City of Culture was bestowed here two years back, the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, a native of the city, hailed it as ‘a precious gift for the peacemakers’. So will a celebration of all things cultural, be they British, Irish or international in flavour, bring a sense of new beginning and a shedding of past history, or is it much ado about nothing? Headliners reporters hit the streets on a busy Saturday afternoon to gauge the thoughts of city folk. They asked the public for their take on the title and if they think it will aid in breaking down barriers, contributing to peace making and new relationships between Catholic and Protestant.
Can the city bridge the gap between communities caused by generations of division and conflict?
On the issue of its contribution to peace, one woman said: “I think we should take the two cultures into consideration because if it’s going to be a city of culture then it has to take everyone into consideration, not just one or the other.” Another woman agrees: “Yes, I think it will help peace because everyone shares a shared identity, shared facilities and a shared interest.” Others said the year-long event will bring both sides together to nurture positive relationships that can be sustained. One man said the event is open to everyone and will therefore allow all of the city’s people to enjoy and celebrate culture without feeling under threat. For others, if it’s contributing to a sustained peace then it can only be a good thing. As one woman told us: “I welcome it, it’s about time, if it’s about peace then it’s doing a good job.”
Sewing the seeds for a peaceful future full of mutual respect for each community’s identity?
One grandmother said it was of utmost importance that her grandchildren were not witness to the violence of the past. “This is definitely a welcome gesture of peace because I grew up with the Troubles and I don’t want to see my grandwains growing up in the same environment. That’s really important to me.” A local man said: “It’s a welcome gesture of peace and there have been people trying to sabotage it. It’s just disgraceful. It’s great for the development of this city and everyone should support it in whatever way they can.” When asked what extent the celebrations will bring communities together, there was a mixed response on the streets. Some thought that it will not make a huge difference whilst others view it as an opportunity to reach out to the other community. “I think you have to go out and attend all the events and let everybody see that everybody is willing to mix and go to different things, not just for the city of culture but all the time. “It shouldn’t just be this one year, it should be everything that you go to,” said one city resident. It’s clear that the majority of those interviewed have a positive view of the City of Culture 2013 and are optimistic that it will unite both communities. What is also clear is that people do not want to turn the clock back to the days of the Troubles and are willing to embrace opportunities, such as City of Culture 2013, to further nurture peace and a new legacy for Derry-Londonderry.
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Issue 4, My Generation
HAVE YOUR SAY! I think the City of Culture is more appealing to younger people because there’s a wile lot of concerts and that kind of stuff. I think whoever organised it went over the top to please the young people. Mary, 47 I think they are most probably suited to younger people but it depends what you mean by old! They’ll probably cater to the younger ones because they will be the ones to go to the events. Lee, 58 It’s not enough and not soon enough ... it’s the opposite of ‘too much, too soon’, it’s not enough and it’s long overdue.
Shaun , 20 A lot has happened , like The Troubles, so I think the City of Culture will be good as people could try to get along. Kirstine , 16
IS CITY OF CULTURE 2013 TOO MUCH, TOO SOON? AND IS IT MORE APPEALING TO OLDER OR YOUNGER PEOPLE?
Brian, 38 I think the moves towards peace are very welcome but I think there is still sectarianism entrenched. Finn, 64
There seems to be something for everybody, not just the one age group, because there’s different stuff going on .
It ’s welcome , for a long time the city has been divided so this has been a long time coming which is good to see . Steven , 28
City of Culture is definitely a welcome gesture of peace because I grew up in The Troubles and I don’t want to see my grandwains grow up in the same environment. Kirstin , 58
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Should I stay or should I go? Young people tend to fall into one of a few categories in Derry / Londonderry. Those that can’t wait to get out of the place and those that are so in love with the place they never want to leave.
Then there is the group somewhere in the middle who want to leave for a while to see the world but want to come back to settle in the city. But what about young people who only visit the city for a short time, what
Hey, my name is Grace McGowan, I’m an 18 year old living in Derry. I grew up here and went to school here. I’ve never called anywhere else home; I’m a Derry thorough-bred. I’ve been a Derry girl my whole life, and it seems unlikely that will change any time soon; my accent is incorrigible and my storytelling has been perfected over the years after listening to so many. Some tragic, some comic, some inspirational and the majority a mixture of all three. I think we’re a people with a long folk memory, something which has served to our credit, and our detriment. Things would be very different if we lived in a town that had only existed for seventy years, although this does not necessarily mean they would be better. I’ve always believed in pushing my hometown forward, but lately that has been difficult. The storm of controversy and cynicism over issues of diversity and identity presented in the media in the past few months alone has been enough to make me want to give up, join the moan patrol and accept the future as bleak and unchangeable. However, I think it is also important that there is nothing
do they make of it? As well as frank accounts from girls born and bred in the city this feature also includes a very fresh and honest account of what a 17-year-old German girl makes of it all.
important I’ve ever done where I haven’t felt like giving up almost every minute of every day. I think that in our city of colourful storytellers the story isn’t over yet. I think that this year will be a major one, where people will come from all arts and parts to gape and wonder at us; the native Derrys. I think these people will know part of our story, maybe all of it up until now, but hopefully while they are here they will realise that no one wrote ‘The End’ in 1994. Hopefully they will realise that our story is ongoing, and it’s difficult, but that it has the potential to end so well. That’s what I believe, what I have to believe.
Why I Hate it Here J
The peace process will forever remain a process until I can walk through the Waterside in my Catholic school uniform without fear or judgement. The Good Friday Agreement was signed in April 1998, but it will not take effect until I can go to certain places without asking myself “Am I British or Irish here?” And a ceasefire holds no meaning until I can spend the rest of my life without hearing the phrase “It’s all kicking off again”. From the perspective of a 17-year old girl, people in Northern Ireland
have convinced themselves that we have achieved peace and proceeded to give themselves a pat on the back for preventing something being blown up before returning home to their exclusively Catholic or Protestant areas. The harsh reality that exists is that this city with no name is stuck in a never ending time loop of fear, and although I acknowledge that forgetting the past is a lot easier said than done, but is there anything to be said for ignoring it? I feel that recent political history have proven that violence will never amount to the same level of progression as constitutional methods. Disrupting general life, injuring innocents and destroying buildings logically means that your support as a whole will decrease. We’re lagging behind the rest of the world because, as people, we are
blinded by the past. We all talk about being from one side or another, but we learn this from our parents and friends and biased autobiographies. If we took a step back and looked at what either side had done, would you really want to belong to either? I wouldn’t. And of course you COULD argue that City of Culture is ‘the way forward’, but what if all we’re given is false hope, the Turner prize exhibition and a couple of decent concerts. Maybe we should spend less time pretending that there is peace and equality in Derry~Londonderry (so good they named it twice?) and focus on achieving it. This city and its older generation could have so much more to offer this generation rather than the legacy of their attitudes. They could give us a ‘Nandos’. Or an ‘Urban Outfitters’. By Katie Ball
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Issue 4, My Generation11 My name is Becca, and I live in...Derry; Londonderry; DerryLondonderry; Stroke City; the Maiden City; the Walled City; City of Culture 2013. That’s a lot of names, actually. Maybe I should just say I live in Ireland, or Northern Ireland, or Britain. I’m a Catholic – which has less to do with my own beliefs and more with who my family are and where I live.
where people can be separated by walls or roads just because of their religion.
It seems like who I am is a big collection of labels that don’t quite fit. I am who other people see me as. Sometimes, I am whoever I need to be to feel safe. We sweep all this under the carpet. I wonder – how often do we step back to look at this objectively? We live in a culture where someone’s name or face is enough to make a judgement, or an attack; What is your name and age? I’m Celine, I am 17 years old. Are you from Derry/ Northern Ireland? No I’m from Germany.
Why is that okay? What if we didn’t have to hide our names and where we’re from? Objectively, it sounds silly to me that your name should matter to anyone...but when I think of that in terms of here, it sounds impossible that it could be otherwise. It feels like I’m waiting on a whole city to stop caring about superficial things. Things that shouldn’t matter – and a lot of the time, I don’t understand why they do. It feels like we’re all stuck with a collection of labels that don’t fit. Let’s try this again: my name’s Becca. I like science and bad rom-coms, and I thought The Dark Knight Rises was awful. Can you judge me on that instead, please?
What about the Protestants and Catholic conflict? Do you feel intimidated about that? I haven’t so much knowledge about that. But I think we have a similar situation in Germany with the eastand west conflict. And I think the whole thing is really stupid.
Where in Germany are you from? From Berlin. How long have you been in Derry? I’ll be here for three months.
Do you know anyone who has been a victim of a racist attack? Not really. I know in Berlin there are some people who are racists but here everyone has been really friendly.
Why are you here? I’m at Foyle Language school and I’m doing an internship with Headliners because in Germany I’m studying administration. Have you enjoyed your time over here, so far? Yes of course. Do you think that people from other countries feel safe living in Derry? Please explain. I can only speak for myself, I feel safe, in Berlin it’s much more dangerous. There is a lot of crime and here it is so pretty and calm.
Do you know any solutions to do this? Nope. It’s complicated.
Do you feel there is enough support for people from other countries, in Derry? No not really. Have you met any friends here? Not really. The thing is, I am here with a group of twenty Germans. So we are the most time together. I just have my host family. Who needs to do more to make life easier and safer for people from other countries staying in Derry? I think all of the people who live here have to make it safer, because these are the same people who hurt each other, you know?
Do you think Derry is a peaceful place? Yes. Not about the conflict about Catholics and Protestants but in the rest of the city. They are all so friendly here. And I can’t imagine that a person hurts another. How do you feel about Derry being UK City of Culture 2013? I think it is okay. Because there is a lot of culture here. It’s great. Do you feel that your opinion matters in the city? No. I can’t imagine that my opinion matters.
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