by Domingos Dirceu Franco (Brazil and Jordan)
Earlier this week I received an e mail from Domi with this text. I met Domi while he was in Ireland for 3 months to learn English. He’s Brazilian but lives in Amman, Jordan. I really like what he writes because it underlines how destination experiences can be powerfully transformative when we are open to new people, new experiences, new cultures. The text is reproduced exactly as written by Domi a real tribute to how much he has progressed at English during his 3 month stay
It’s difficult to write something about my experience in Ireland because my stay here didn’t last too long. I’ve been here for three months, but I consider it as a short time. I believe that to get to know a little about any culture, you need at least a year living in the country. To be honest, I didn’t know too much about this lovely country before I came here. However, if I look back, I would say it that was better, because every single reality I found out here, it was new and fascinating. People here are very helpful and are always ready to help you whenever you need anything. When you ask for information, people smilingly try to help you. It makes you feel at home and I just appreciate it. “A cup of tea” and “a pint of beer” now are part of my background. I know what it means for Irish people. It’s one of many ways to build relationships.
As far as I know, based on my experiences in several countries I have visited, when you build a relationship with native people, I mean, a true relationship, which doesn’t have any ulterior motives, the time of getting to know a new culture is usually reduced. That’s why I can say that in these three months, I took part in the life of this country and really appreciated its people. It enabled me to build true relationships with lots of Irish.
I came here to improve my English and, it might be because I’m hardworking, I have been able to improve it a little. The more I study English, the more I realize how little I know, but I’m glad with the level I’ve reached so far. My teachers and all the staff of Kenilworth Language Institute are capable, professional, friendly, helpful and wonderful people. They not only taught me English, but their history and culture as well. The environment of family I’ve found in the school is just amazing. The relationship with my schoolmates, who are from different countries, has been great and I’ve learnt a lot from them. I managed to build a relationship with each and every one I met in the school. I could nickname myself as a “small talkative person”. It’s a good strategy to build relationships. Then, last but not least, I would mention about the time I spent with my host family and with the Focolare community, which I belong to. These are indeed unforgettable experiences of understanding, sharing and listening to each other.
Back to Jordan
In order to express what my feeling about Ireland and its people is, I have to go back to Jordan to narrate a short story, which happens to me very often there. When I take taxi in Jordan, the taxi driver usually asks me why I left Brazil and moved there. Afterwards they ask me which country is the more beautiful in my opinion, Jordan or Brazil. I always tell them that the most beautiful country in the world is the country where you live at the present moment of your life. Because the beauty of any country is not composed only of natural resources, forests, beaches, deserts, green grass or lakes, etc. These are parts of its beauty, but in my opinion, the true beauty of any country is composed, above all, of its culture, history, traditions and values. I’m used to answering them that in the present moment of my life, Jordan is the most beautiful country in the world, because I live there and love its people and culture. Then, when they realize that I really like living there, they say to me strongly struck: “You look more Jordanian than us”. I usually reply that I just try to make every effort to belong to the country that I live in, by loving its people and culture.
In the three months I spent in Ireland, I can say likewise. It is not a copy of my Jordanian experience, but a strong inward feeling. Currently, Ireland is the most beautiful country in the world, because it is the country where I’m living now. It is not a beautiful country only because of its paradisiacal and gorgeous sightseeing and endless green grassy fields. The beauty of Ireland is above all its people with their culture and traditions.
During my stay here, I have had the opportunity to explore almost the whole country and I found lots of treasures. It was very important for me to understand a little bit, something about Ireland`s history. What really struck me about Ireland is its history. I believe that you can only understand the present if you are able to step back and have a look what happened in the past. Two weeks ago, I visited the Famine Memorial located close to O’Connell St. in Dublin. It was one of the most impressive tourist visits ever. I have never felt such a strong sense of respect and honour for a place, as I felt visiting that memorial. So far, I’ve been in 18 countries, but I really could say that visiting the Famine Memorial was something special and unique for me. More than one million people died due to the famine…another one or two million emigrated… It’s part of a sad and true story which has taught me what perseverance and determination mean. I can’t analyse the history and give my own interpretation. Who am I to do that? However, what I can do is honour those determined and hardworking people who for many reasons suffered such terrible fate. History teaches us that there are two Irelands: before the Famine and afterwards. It’s totally true.
When I was visiting the Famine Memorial, I nearly had to dry some tears dropping from my eyes. It was a moment of prayer and offering. Irish people know that it’s no use crying over spilt milk, and that is why they were strong and determined to overcome the effect of that tragic and sad part of their history. Usually, suffering in a family caused by the death of one of the parents for example, makes children become mature earlier than normal time demands. This is because sacrifice and hardship, but not only, enables people realize what really matters. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Even though we have experienced hard times in our lives, we can always overcome them and carry on. When we have everything we don’t really appreciate it. In life, we are used to taking many things for granted. It’s not our fault. The things we appreciate the most are the ones we have already lost. The sense of belonging to a country, for example, is stronger than ever, when and after something very hard has affected its people, such as a war, natural disasters or whatever else. If I have a look at Ireland’s history, I can easily understand why Irish people are filled with life, courage, joy, availability, gratitude, compassion, helpfulness, responsibilities, sensitiveness, generosity and in other words, full of Love. Love, the true love, agape, which has its roots in God, enables us to overcome every difficulty, and forgive one another. In the end, it makes us proceed on our divine journey concentrating our actions on what really matters: life is beautiful and must be lived completely.
The more I get to know Ireland the more I get love this country. I wanted to stay longer, especially to have more time to improve my English, but it was not possible. I am grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to stay here. After seven years living in Jordan, a three-month break, doing different things and in a different place, just came up as a present from God’s love towards me. This experience has really enriched me. I’m not the same person as when I arrived here. I have learnt a lot from each person I met and from every reality or situation I got know.
By this time next week, I’ll be going back to Jordan to continue my mission and adventure there. Making God’s will makes me happier than ever. I’ll bring this country and its people in my heart and in my prayers. I don’t want to say “good bye”, but only “see you”. I’ll miss you.
May God bless Ireland and the Irish.
5 thoughts on “What Ireland means to me [Guest Post]”
This is a beautiful and moving guest post, thank you so much to Domi – the “small talkative person”. I would also like to congratulate you on your excellent command of the English language. It is wonderful to see the effect that Ireland and our people can have. It is also fantastic to feel how much you immersed yourself in our culture and history. I hope that you got to go to at least one true traditional music session, not one only for the tourists. God is good, and he made a good decision to give you the gift of going to Ireland. I am now off to tweet this, if you’re on Twitter – Padraicino could introduce us.
Jackie – I have passed your wonderful comment to Domi. He’s blushing but delighted!
Thanks Padraic. I am really happy to hear that! 🙂 I am wondering if you could ask Domi if I could quote one line from him, in my opening for my post that I am currently working on for A Luxury Travel Blog. The post will be about quirky things to do in Dublin, but I want to open it in the spirit of being proud to be Irish and I would like to include his comment – something along the lines of – I recently read a wonderful post by a Brazilian man on what Ireland means to him- He captures it perfectly when he says. “The beauty of Ireland is above all its people with their culture and traditions.” After that I am planning to lead into Biddy’s Cottage Dalkey…let me know, and many thanks for your help, and to Domi 🙂
Dear Jackie and Podraic,
Thank your very much for your warm feedback to something very simple I`ve written about Ireland. I was very delighted to read you comment Jackie. The piece I wrote was just a sort of thanks letter to the Irish people – It was the main target.
If you want, sure you can quote that line. If this quotation can help Irish people and others realize even more how Ireland and its people and culture are beautiful, I`ll be very glad with that.
I tried to send you a feedback, but believe me, I couldn’t manage it. When I got home in Amman there were thousands of errands to run, coming back to work, find my feet again… restart and restart. Now, I settled down again.
I work on a NGO on some projects towards Jordanian vulnerable families, Iraqi and Syrian refugees. It’s really intense but rewarding. I`ve been work here for 4 years and every day there`s a new adventure. Sometimes it’s very hard, because all the time you see the suffering of others and try to do your best, but it’s not enough. Sadly, the war`s still going ahead. Working in such field makes me forget my own challenges and devote my time and my life to those heroes, really heroes people.
As you know might have heard, more than 100 thousands Iraqi Christians fled leaving everything behind. Many of them took refuge in safer areas in Iraq, Jordan and other are emigrating to Europe and USA. It’s very sad. The terrorism is terrible. Yesterday I was with an Iraqi guy who came to Jordan and with his family is waiting the visa to emigrate to USA. We were searching an English institute for him, because he speaks only Arabic. We`ve found a great school who offered him also a great discount. If every day I can help someone with something, it makes my day.
A big and warm Brazilian hug to you,
Have a nice day!
Dear Domi and Padraic,
It’s also been very busy this week for me,, so I am only now seeing this wonderful reply. 🙂 Thank you so much Domi.
I hoped you enjoyed the mention over at: http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2014/10/19/7-of-the-best-quirky-things-to-do-in-dublin/ – your post was truly inspirational. Thank you!
I am so touched to read your message – by the way my partner of 10 years is Portuguese, and he has been to Brazil, but I haven’t, as yet.
The work that you are doing is truly wonderful. When I read what you wrote it makes my life feel rather insignificant, and totally puts any so called troubles in their correct place.
I used to do a little bit of charity healing work back in Cherry Orchard Hospital in Dublin, in the HIV unit. It was only a few hours a week, but just as you say, if I could help anyone a little, it really made my life feel good and worthwhile.
We have land here in Spain, right now it’s a total wilderness. But both I and Joao, my partner, would like to do something with it in the long term, that could on one hand, be for some kind of eco-tourism, and on the other hand could be used to help people in various ways. Let’s see, there’s a lot to be done first…and we also need to make enough money to set it all up.
But as us Irish say: A bit of hard work never killed anyone! 🙂
I send you the warmest wishes, continued positivity, strength and spirituality…to help you continue on your amazing path Domi.
Um grande abraço Irlandêsa quente…
And wishes to you both for a lovely weekend