Cross Community Experiences

By: Eileen Starr  

For the past 96 years Ireland has been divided, six counties in the North part of the United Kingdom and an independent nation in the South. Despite multiple peace agreements, sectarian violence continues. During the reenactment period in July, traditions dating back to the 17th century exacerbate the escalation. Long held values and historical trauma reinforce division and violence. Research indicates that primary conflict during adolescence impacts personal and social identity (Coon and Mitterer, 2009). Shepard (2007) determined that exposure to long-term violence and community discord impairs development and increases psychiatric symptomology. This research study explores the relationship between the Ulster Project Delaware (UPD) and good will and negative stereotyping of “The Other." UPD is a cross-community integration program for adolescents (ages 14-16) exposed to sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. This study highlights youth’s involvement in UPD. For example, the importance of continuing UPD, despite the 1998 Belfast Peace Accord and the official end of “The Troubles” is to offset the on-going consequences of sectarian violence due to historical and intergenerational trauma. Our interactive presentation includes de-identified audio clips from individual interviews sharing not only their experiences as an adolescent participating in UPD, but also their exposure to community violence and the impact in their lives across the lifespan. Implications for the continuation of UPD and associated interventions will also reviewed. Participants will explore implications for practice in their countries.

Peace and Conflict
Identity and Belonging
Workshop Presentation

Eileen Starr

Assistant Professor (Tenure Track), Social Work Department, Metropolitan State University-Denver

Eileen Frances-McInerney Starr, MSW, LCSW, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Metropolitan State University-Denver. She has extensive experience in community based clinical and private social work practice, supervision, and program development/management in marginalized and conflicted communities. Her research interests are resiliency, integration, and cross-community programs in conflicted areas, and improving the lives of children, adolescents, and families, especially in marginalized and vulnerable populations. Her international efforts have focused on cross-community programs that strive towards decreasing violence, increasing tolerance, and goodwill to support children and youth in divided societies where community and sectarian violence exists. Dr. Starr continues to explore opportunities to assist conflicted and underserved communities as they work to address the needs of their neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Further, she continues to be active in her clinical practice at Mid-Atlantic Behavioral Health LLC, Newark, Delaware, USA, meeting with her clients via a tele-health format. She returns to her home state in the summers and breaks during the academic year to connect with her clients in person. Dr. Starr sees tele-health as an excellent and evolving tool, especially with the push towards integrated heathcare, serving populations whose access to services are often limited. Additionally, continuing to be active in private practice allows her to keep her clinical skills honed and relevant, transferring these skills to an academic setting by teaching clinical courses to graduate social work students. In her spare time, Eileen takes advantage of the amazing outdoor opportunities available in her adopted state of Colorado. She also hopes to return soon to coaching girls basketball, which is another passion as a former college athlete, high school coach, and basketball official.