I’m back in Virginia after a fun and productive adventure in the UK and Ireland. After several days of sightseeing, it was time to put on the “educator” hat and prepare for the conference. The DISES International Round Table was an educational experience to say the least. The setting provided for an opportunity to listen and share with special educators from around the world. The informal atmosphere was perfect and allowed presenters to provide a different perspective on international policy and advocacy for individuals with special education needs.
The International Round Table took place on the campus of St. Angela’s College in Sligo, Ireland. The setting was peaceful with spectacular views. And, each afternoon, attendees gathered together to see some of the historic sights close to Sligo.
My presentation was on Hocus Focus - the effectiveness of using magic tricks in the education process of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. It was well received and everyone in our group even learned a few tricks along the way.
In the evenings, many of us were able to get together for great music and fun in the local pubs – the traditional gathering places of friends in Ireland.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the final banquet at the Castle. Chase and I were booked to fly back to the states from Belfast, UK. We left immediately after a group tour of Carrowmore Tombs & Knocknarea to make the 3 hour drive. We didn’t realize that Thursday, March 12 was also Marching Day in the UK. As we drove through small towns toward Belfast, traffic was re-routed several times in order to accommodate parades of the Orangemen marching through the streets. I managed to snap one photo while Chase got some video.
We made it to Belfast around 8pm and decided to return our rental car and just spend the night in the hotel. We had to be there at 4am in order to check in for our flight anyway and hotels would be difficult to find in Belfast on Marching Day. As it turns out, we were asked to leave the airport so…off to find a hotel. The Ibis Hotel in City Center was able to provide a room for the short night. As our taxi driver pulled into Central Belfast, he pointed out several columns of smoke where the riots were taking place. And, once checked into the hotel, we were cautioned by the locals not to stray to far on the streets. Things had already turned violent in the city.
We were up very early in the morning and on our way back to the Belfast City Airport. We checked in our bags, got our boarding passes and made our way to the gate. First stop would be London Gatwick Airport where we would transfer to US Air for the flights to Charlotte, NC and then on home.
After we boarded the flight to London, one of the USAir representatives found us on the plane. He wanted to confirm our baggage claim numbers and then assured us the bags were on the flight. That was great news!
We landed in Charlotte and made our way to Immigration. Once we cleared immigration, it was time to claim our bags, get through Customs, and drop them at the re-check counter. The only problem – one of my bags was missing. After being confirmed on the flight in London, I was surprised not to see it at baggage claim. As I write this, it still hasn’t showed up…and I’m guessing it’s stuck in Customs on Charlotte. Hopefully, it will be here soon!