RESTORE-Meeting in Galway, Ireland
31st October – 04th November, 2011
Training in PLA and NPT
The RESTORE project team met in Galway at the end of October for their second meeting. This time the meeting took place to give all RESTORE-partners and researchers (which have joined the project during the last few months) initial training in our research methods: Participatory Learning and Action and Normalisation Process Theory. Through the four days of training, each of us got the opportunity to learn about and practise some PLA techniques, become informed about NPT with its constructs and also exchange knowledge with all other partners' team members.
The training was provided by project partners Ms. Mary O'Reilly-de Brún and Mr. Tomas de Brún (both experts in PLA) and by Prof. Frances Mair and Prof. Catherine O'Donnell (both experts in NPT).
The PLA training used demonstrations and interactive role plays and other activities. It not only helped us to understand the use of these special research techniques, but also to get to know each other (better). Because this meeting was the first time when not only the principal investigators, but also the researchers took part, there were several new (or at least: not so well known) faces. We were all very curious to get to know our partners, who we might only have seen in a group photo of the last meeting or even just known by e-mail conversation.
Prof. Mair and Prof. O'Donnell helped us to understand the complex structure of NPT by using practical examples and group discussions about the (main) issues that NPT focuses on. Because of their expertise, any uncertainty which we had from just reading through the relevant literature about NPT, without actually practising it, disappeared and our understanding of this method grew.
During our stay the NUI Galway team was always keen to give us time and space to build up or strengthen our relations with activities like a dinner in the dungeon of a castle nearby, a walk through the huge park of our country hotel or a dinner in a cosy little restaurant in Galway city, close to the Spanish Arch.
One very special event was arranged by Breda Kelleher, when a typically Irish folk band played at our hotel bar. At this time we all experienced what our project mainly is about: It is about bringing different kinds of people together.
Unconsciously following this idea, we danced a Greek "Sirtaki", an Austrian "Walzer" and an Irish jig and a Scottish dance called the Gay Gordon all accompanied by the Irish folk band. At the last song, we sang a traditional Scottish folk song (usually only played in Ireland at New Year's Eve), called: "For Auld Lang Syne". We sang and all danced together with a certain feeling of being exactly at the right place – in more than one way.
On the fifth day, once the training sessions had ended, the principal investigators and some researchers attended a consortium meeting to examine efforts during the last few months and the next steps for the future.
Summarising it can be said, that after these days of hard work, but though also a lot of laughing, we all left Ireland (well.. at least only those who had to, to come home..) with great motivation and a lot of energy for the upcoming challenges within our project.