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Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations
Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations

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4.1 Becoming wiser

After the riots in the Spring of 2021, some of the young people making this course took part in cross community projects as well as working with William. In the following conversation between three of the boys, they reflect on the riots and how things have changed since then. You will hear them talk about their relationship with young Republicans before the riots and what happened when they spent time with them through a cross community youth project in the summer. Now listen to an audio clip from this conversation.

‘When you mature and you grow up you realize, focus on yourself. Don’t focus on the crowd you’re with. Don’t do the things you’re pressured into doing’.

(Boy 1)

Activity 7: Boys’ conversation on ‘becoming mates’

Timing: 20 minutes
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Audio 1: Boys conversation on ‘Becoming mates’
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  • Is there anything you could relate to in this conversation?
  • What do you think the boys mean by ‘becoming wiser’ or ‘more mature’?
  • What did this make you think about your own relationships with young people from different communities?
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What you took from this conversation will be personal to you. But there are a number of points you could pick up from this conversation. The boys forged new connections by spending time with CNR young people and getting to know them. While in the past they would have been organising fights over social media, the boys describe how they would now be the ones working with the other side to stop fights. Becoming more mature for them in short, means learning how to think for themselves.

As the boys point out, facing difficult situations and political happenings is part of life as young people. It is also something you can learn how to deal with. Becoming more mature involves knowing your own values and focussing on these and not on following the crowd. They also talk about their hopes for this course and that it is something that will open other young people’s minds, show another perspective, and help other young people find their voice and make a difference in their communities.

The boys describe being part of building the future in their communities and they see participating with cross-community groups as part of that process. (In Northern Ireland cross-community usually means people from PUL and CNR groups working together). Importantly, they describe how they connected with other young people who want to talk rather than fight. Finding connections with young people that share your values and working together on common problems can be a powerful way to make change happen.