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Pursuing peace everywhere: Meet Arriana McBurney, Northern Ireland.

Activist of the day: Meet @Arianna McBurney, Northern Ireland.
Hi, my name is Arianna McBurney and I am delight to work with UNOY EYAT through Beyond Skin.
Could you describe the first moment when you realized you wanted to do this work?


Being bilingual and having been brought up within two cultures (Spanish and Northern Irish) outreach, and cross-community work has always been on my radar. After meeting the founder of Beyond Skin, Darren Ferguson, I realized just how much I wanted to get involved in his, and all the members of Beyond Skin’s, invaluable work locally, throughout Northern Ireland, and globally.


Could you take us through a day of your work? Where do you put most of your time and energy?
I am currently a second-year Law and Hispanic Studies student at Queen’s University Belfast. My studies thus take up the majority of my time. However, I love to get involved in different projects, especially with links to Hispanic countries – such as the extraordinary project Cuerpos Gramaticales. During the current pandemic online zoom sessions, held by Lina Guzman and Darren Ferguson, are the perfect way to engage with inspirational people from Colombia. We are then creative together.


What are your key achievements in your work?


One of my proudest moments working with Beyond Skin would be writing a piece and being in a video for International Women’s Day. This year’s hashtag being #EachforEqauls. I am an avid ambassador for equality amongst the sexes, a passion that helped lead me to study law. The aim of my piece was to reflect on that day, what we (both women and men), across the generations have mutually achieved towards equality so far. Of course, acknowledging always that change and true equality is still a work in progress. How does your organization promote inclusive participation of youth from diverse backgrounds?
Beyond Skin have a plethora of programs aimed at bringing people together in creative ways – through the arts. These are found on the website. However, a few of my personal favorites are, Cuerpos Gramaticales and Youth4Peace.


What has been your hardest struggle so far, and how did you get over it?


The hardest struggle currently is not being able to do as many interactive activities in person, due to the pandemic. However, well organized skype calls by Beyond Skin help brighten the day.
6. What has been your biggest surprise on this journey so far?
Undoubtedly it would have to be how impactful words can be when there are delivered by motivated people.
7. What keeps you going and gives you inspiration in your work? What gives you hope?


The incredible people I have met through my continuing journey at Beyond Skin are inevitably key to keeping inspired. Their stories are mesmerizing. From chatting with Shelley Deane to learning intrinsic details of other people’s culture (in Colombian Skype calls), have all influenced my desire to continue to strive, like them, for change.


8. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?


Being 20 I’m not sure I can travel back far. However, I guess I would like to have realized sooner that being different is a wonderful, wonderful thing.


9. What words of encouragement would you give to women, children, minorities, and other disempowered groups when they are facing rejection because of the prevailing cultural norm?


I firstly sympathize immensely with anyone having to endure rejection. The world can be so cruel. No one deserves to be treated in such a way.I am a stickler for a good quote, I believe that they hold much-needed wisdom. Thus, if you stick with me, I would like to remind all of the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘no one can make you feel inferior without your consent’. I understand that this is much easier said than done. Nevertheless, rejection often stems from ignorance. Ignorance must be defeated through kind interactions. Martin Luther King sums this sentiment up exquisitely. ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’
10. How can people reach me?I can be reached through beyond Skin, or via email, amcburneylopez@gmail.com .
Outlined is a link to see some of my work with Beyond Skin:https://www.beyondskin.net/international-womens-day-eachforequal

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