05 Mar 2016
Community members Richard and Yvonne Naylor are spending three months as Fulbright scholars in Texas, sharing some of the learning from Corrymeela.
We have just completed our first month in San Antonio as Fulbright Scholars in Residence at St Philip’s College. The highlights have been the welcome and reception from all those we have met. There has been a lot of interest in who we are and what we do. We are being well looked after by Andy Hill and Matt Fuller, teachers at the College and ex Corrymeela Volunteers.
Our first major event was the annual Martin Luther King Day parade where we joined some 300,000 people of all creeds and colours. All the churches on the road were out in force providing music and distributing bottled water.
We have been into a number of College and University classes both in the Alamo Colleges and St Mary’s University. This has ranged from talking generally about Corrymeela, reconciliation and Northern Ireland politics to a more detail discussion about non–violent resistance around the Civil Rights movement 1968–1972. Andy Hill remarked on how much more engaged one of his classes had become after we had used the methodology we use at Corrymeela.
We had an afternoon in an Elementary school where we did twenty minutes of games per class about what we were doing in coming to San Antonio. They were very responsive. Another school we visited was the local Montessori school although here all the age groups were mixed up so we had a rather large group to deal with in a rather small area. This highlighted the need for more advance planning as we would have done back home.
Interfaith relationships appear to be strong in San Antonio. We have been to a breakfast meeting with the Dialogue Centre which is run by a Turkish organisation with similar aims to NITECA in Belfast. They have also been sponsoring a number of Interfaith events recently. We went to a talk on Islam’s Jesus where Dr Zeki Saritoprak detailed the appearance and importance of Jesus in the Qu’ran and Hadith.
As in most cultures food is important. So we have managed to turn up at various churches, both for special events and Sunday services, where a sit down meal has been provided. San Antonio’s religious breakdown is Catholic 31%, Protestant 22% and no religion 43%. Evangelical Protestants count for more than two–thirds of all the Protestants. Some interesting names: University of the Incarnate Word, Oblate School of Theology. We have been visiting churches across the denominations. We went to the Episcopal church associated with the foundation of St Philip’s College where the congregation was largely African American and last week went to an Episcopal church close to where we are living where the congregation is largely white. This reflects where the different ethnic groups live and also the distribution of wealth.
San Antonio is a large city of over 1.5 million people which is soon to increase substantially as it absorbs other local towns. It is spread out over a large area and, of course, the car rules. We have found that our most significant purchase has been a SatNav which has been particularly useful when driving on the freeways. Drivers here overtake on both sides. Exit ramps can be on either side of the carriageway so being in the correct lane is important so the SatNav is great help. Off the freeways the roads can be very quiet even close to the city centre. Petrol is approximately 42p per litre. Diesel is nearer 50p per litre so there are very few diesel cars.
For more detail about specific things that we have done please see our blog at naylor.028ni.org.uk
Richard & Yvonne Naylor