Na Szmaragdowej Wyspie

Od 2 do 10 listopada trwała ostatnia już mobilność nauczycieli w ramach projektu „Oczytani-oczarowani”. Tym razem pedagog (Magdalena Rusin), polonistka (Dorota Tobiasz) i bibliotekarz (Tomasz Sowiński) wyruszyli do Dublina, by wziąć udział w kursie „English for Teachers” (A2-B1) organizowanym przez English Matters. Oprócz kursu językowego, nauczyciele poznawali irlandzką stolicę i prowincję (piękne Glendalough), a także kulturę irlandzką w szerokim tego słowa znaczeniu. Spacery po Dublinie zaprowadziły nauczycieli w miejsca związane z literaturą. Niezapomnianym przeżyciem były odwiedziny w zarówno w starych, pięknych bibliotekach: The Old Library of Tinity College i National Library of Ireland, jak i tych nowoczesnych: Berkeley, Lecky & Ussher Libraries w TCD i Central Library w… Ilac Shopping Centre. Okazuje się, że centrum handlowe może być doskonałym miejscem na zlokalizowanie biblioteki w epoce konsumpcjonizmu. Metodą „shop & read” można zachęcić do czytania zmęczone bieganiną po sklepach społeczeństwo. Najbardziej tajemniczą z bibliotek była biblioteka w Irish Writers Centre, której misją  jest wspieranie pisarzy na każdym etapie rozwoju, także tych początkujących, dla których organizowane są warsztaty literackie. W budynku obok znajduje się Dublin Writers Muzeum, w którym zapoznaliśmy się z historią literatury irlandzkiej. Udało nam się również obejrzeć wystawę poświęconą Williamowi Butlerowi Yeatsowi w Bibliotece Narodowej Irlandii. Ekspozycja była pełna pamiątek po irlandzkim nobliście i… metafizyki. Nie do wszystkich miejsc w Dublinie związanych z literaturą udało nam się dotrzeć, bo na to nie starczyło czasu. Deszczowy klimat Irlandii widocznie sprzyja twórczości, skoro wydała ona prozaików, poetów, dramatopisarzy takiej klasy, jak Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, czy Seamus Heaney. Może jednak znajdzie się czas w długie wieczory jesienno-zimowe, by bliżej zapoznać się z ich twórczością?

Na koniec przedstawiam swój krótki pamiętnik refleksyjny z wyjazdu do Dublina, który napisałem języku angielskim w ramach ewaluacji kursu.

Starter

I read about Ireland when I was a child. The author called this country the Green Island. The illustrations in the books were black and white, like everything during the communist period, but the child’s imagination tinted them green. And now, when the plane to Dublin is lowering to land at the airport, I see Irish greenery. This is not the shade of Christmas trees from Soviet textbooks. It’s an emerald green that I didn’t know in my childhood.

***

Still at the airport, I made a mistake by packing myself into a taxi to the driver’s seat. Then in a rented apartment in the Stoneybatter district, I realized that I would need an adapter to charge the phone’s battery. Fortunately, I remembered to change time on my watch so I could be hands of a clock punctual. I will need to learn about the Ireland. I have up to 9 days. My companions are going to be Dorota, a Polish teacher and Magda – a school counselor.

***

Magda’s uncle lives in Dublin. His name is Zbyszek. We visit him in his tiny apartment, full of sailing gadgets. Uncle Ziggy leads us to the Glasnevin Cemetery, uses the biggest necropolis of Ireland. There you can learn the history of the Green Island. On the tombstones we see the names, after which Dublin streets, monuments and buildings are named. Beside the lush vegetation, there is a forest of Celtic crosses, and above them a round tower – a guardian of the shadows.

Then we go to the center of Dublin and cross the River Liffey. The architecture here is harsh, our attention is drown to colorful and stylish shop windows, restaurants and pubs. The rain reminds us that we’re hungry. We try Irish cuisine in the cramped but charming The Vintage Kitchen. The girls are delighted with seafood & squid spaghetti. Me and Ziggy chose the delicious venison „Shepherds” pie, served with vintage cheddar, fried parsnips and white garlic. That’s how you can enjoy your life.

Day 1

It is not raining. We can continue exploring the city. Quarter past 11 Choral Eucharist at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral with the performance of the Gentelman or the Cathedral Choir. I don’t understand much. I hope it won’t be that bad at the English Matters course next. National Gallery of Ireland in the afternoon. A few outstanding paintings that I saw earlier on reproductions and a whole collection of Irish art I didn’t know before. The woman from the canvas of William John Leech „The Sunshade” catches my eye. If Ireland were to turn into a woman, it would be her.

***

So let’s get started. The first meeting of course participants at the Grand Canal Hotel. There are teachers from France, Greece, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Spain and the majority from Italy. It will be interesting! The organizers seem to be nice. We get a set of textbooks and a pen, we get to know the history of Ireland and we get to know each other. Tomorrow we will be divided into groups. I hope they won’t separate me from Magda and Dorota.

Day 2

I am the only Pole in the group. God, look after me!

***

Alex turns out to be a great teacher. I can’t say everything I want, but I understand Alex quite well. He doesn’t want us to use translators in our phones. What we do not understand he explains in other words, shows gesture or draws. His drawings are funny. They reveal him as a cheerful, simple and sensitive man. In the group I have two teachers from France, two from Greece and several Italians. Everyone is very nice. I am glad to be in group „B”. In the first class we get to know Irish society and culture. Now I know why souvenir shops look like a metal meadow. Clover is a symbol of Ireland. Saint Patrick explained the inhabitants of the island the essence of the Holy Trinity on the example of a three-leaf clover. I also learned the legend of Leperchaun. I knew that at the end of the rainbow you could find a pot of gold, but I had no idea that someone was watching over him. The most important words I met today: Trinity, shamrock, turf, shamrock, Leprecheun, shamrock, hurling, shamrock, cottage, shamrock, seagull and many others. Classes are held at the National College of Dublin. It is a modern building, around which there are several restaurants. Something good for everyone, but I dream of getting to some Irish pub and feeling that I’m in Dublin. Yesterday we were in the Temple Bar district. The legendary pub was crowded and expensive, so it’s good that we had dinner elsewhere. An Irish band performed live there. Today we came to Mulligan’s Pub, located on the ground floor of the tenement house where we live. It has existed since … 1791. That year, under the influence of the French Revolution, the United Irish Society was founded, and the Constitution of May 3 was adopted in Poland. Pubs can only exist for so long in a country where the pub is an inseparable part of society’s life.

Day 3

For the next two days of English Gabriel will teach us. She’s nice, but I’ll miss Alex. Today we get to know Irish food and drinks. I learned new words: creamy, crumbly, crunchy, greasy, gooey, moist, mushly, salty, sour, bitter. I only knew the word „sweet” before, because it appears in many songs about love. After these classes I have another goal in Dublin: try Irish stew. In the afternoon we set off to Trinity College in search of treasures. It’s a very integrating activity that allows us to get to know the city better. I am going to The Long Room Of The Library. No, this is not a fantasy library J.K. Rowing. This is a real library where once enlightened people sought knowledge. At the Berkeley Library I can admire the contemporary library. And what will the libraries look like in the next 500 years? Will they even exist?

***

In the evening I try Irish pond and drink Jameson, ginger and lime. Drink is outstanding!

Day 4

Today I get to know Irish holidays: Halloween, St. St. Patrick’s Day and St. Stephen. The course is almost at Halloween, so I still see skeletons in the city: skeletons. Unfortunately, I didn’t try barm brack. Instead, I discovered a branch of Dublin City Public Libraries in a shopping center. It’s a great idea to locate the library in such a place and remind people that it’s not a shame to read books in the 21st century.

Day 5

We get to know Irish inventions and technologies. I have to thank the Irish for inventing „flavored crips” and „soda water”, both inventions have made my life more attractive. And with Guinness it was like this: I tried it when I was 20 years old. I didn’t like this beer. But here in Ireland I liked it with all my heart or whole kidneys! Maybe because it does not contain much alcohol and you can talk with friends for a long time. Maybe because of drinking Guinness, I enjoy great Celtic music, like tonight in The Cobblestone. It was a bit like a jam session. People came with their violins, tin whistles, uilleann pipes and played Irish standards together. Then someone went home, someone else appeared. Between the instrumental pieces a man sang a cappella ballad. Everyone listened thoughtfully and in awe. Irish pubs are created all over the world, but they don’t have a real atmosphere, because a pub on the Green Island is not only Guinness-business, but above all an Irish soul. In the afternoon we go to the National Museum of Ireland. We have a group task to do there. This allows us to watch the entire exhibition carefully. Next to the museum there is the National Library. Dorota and I go there after class. Lovely place. Pillows for old books. People lost in reading. Wonderful view. The library has an exhibition dedicated to William Butler Yeats. Dorota knows English better than I do. Listens to Yeats poems. She is delighted. I will read them after returning to Poland. I want to know what’s playing in the heart of the Irishman. Lamb in the „Bank” restaurant excellent!

Day 6

Course topics: Medieval Monastic Ireland. In the afternoon, a joint trip to Glendalough together, but without Alex. I didn’t even have time to thank him for becoming one of my greatest memories from Ireland. Like the place we are heading to. From the bus windows I can see the Irish province, the Irish mountains, Irish greenery. Everything is so beautiful. I would like to take a backpack on my shoulders and wander these hills for days. Glendalough impresses with its architecture, nature and serenity. If I were here alone, I would definitely climb a hunchback mountain above the lakes. What a beautiful view it must be!

***

In the evening, Irish stew at The Church restaurant. Outstanding this time!

Day 7

Presenting portfolio. Last meeting with the group. They are no longer French, Greek or Italian. These are specific names. Specific people I will miss. English Matters does not only teach English and Irish culture, they integrate people from all over Europe. During the presentation a slip-up: I could not say the word „literature”. I thought I would break my tongue. I will still practice the word and read Irish literature, because I leave my heart in Ireland. Here I saw a woman whose story touched me:

„In Dublin’s fair city

Where the girls are so pretty

I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone

As she wheeled her wheelbarrow

Through the streets broad and narrow…”

Last day morning

I have to leave Ireland. There are so many places here that I would like to see. But above all, I’d like to know what the Irish were thinking about when they listened to the ballads at The Cobblestone, I’d like to understand their heart.

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