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“Do you wanna cup of tea?” – meet our new EVS Volunteer!

By The Black Box

“Do you wanna cup of tea?”

What’s the craic? Lucia speaking! Firstly, let me introduce myself: I’m the new EVS volunteer in the Black Box, I come from Galicia –a rainy region located in the north west of Spain–, and I arrived in Belfast in September. To be honest, before landing here I knew very little about the city and the Northern Irish culture but, after almost two months going back and forth, I must admit that I am greatly impressed by what this place has to offer. There’s much more here than sheep and shamrocks! Belfast is a city with a wide range of cultural highlights and “Culture Night” was a good evidence of this ­–it’s amazing to see how the entire city mobilises and takes to the streets for a few hours. Not to mention some of the most emblematic settings of the Northern coast of Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway is absolutely worth going!

I haven’t been here for a long time but, although I hate stereotypes, I can already confirm that everybody here is very friendly. I keep coming across very welcoming people that are always willing to offer a nice cup of tea at any time in the day or take you out for a pint of one of the countless types of beer. As for the food, I’ve already tasted the popular and genuine Northern-Irish Tayto crisps (not bad!) but I haven’t experienced a crisp butty yet (I’ll give it a try soon!). Adapting to Northern-Irish meal times is hard for a person that is used to have dinner beyond 10 pm but I’m convinced that readjusting to new timetables is just a question of time.

The language issue is also an everyday challenge. Northern-Irish English is full of typical expressions and its accent is hard for non-native speakers to understand. Here everything is wee (little) –regardless of the size− and I’m starting to understand that if someone tells you that he or she “is going for a wee walk” wouldn’t necessarily mean that this person will be back soon.

During the first weeks, my daily routine was a bit higglety–pigglety but now I’m almost fully adapted to the Black Box, a cultural venue where music, art and the warmth of Northern Ireland are always present. Apart from that, this is also a place for social commitment: I’m helping with several outreach projects that aim to engage with people with learning disabilities, such as social clubs, tea dances, film screenings… Black Moon is a “club night” that takes place the first Tuesday of every month in the Black Box. This event gives people with learning disabilities a great opportunity to socialise and enjoy music. Last October I had the opportunity to discover that the turnout at the event was great before the opening time a crowd gathered in front of the main door and some of the participants were even carrying their dancing shoes in a bag to put them on once the DJ started spinning music. The success of this project also goes beyond the walls of the Black Box since a similar disco night is organised once a month in Omagh, a town located 68 miles away from Belfast.

I know I have still loads of things to learn and experience and I’m so excited about my following months here. I hope to get more and more involved with my project in the Black Box in order to make the most of my time here in Belfast. It’ll be good craic!

lucia and gavin

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