For our first weekend here in the United Kingdom, we had the chance to experience the 135th anniversary of the Durham Miners’ Gala. There were around 100,000 people pouring into the city to participate in “the Big Meeting,” with dozens of brass bands marching throughout the city all day. The Miners’ Gala is traditionally a labor festival that has close ties to the County of Durham’s history of mining. We followed the brass bands to the old Racehorse track, which had been turned into a festival ground. This was where hundreds gathered to listen to political speeches, and Prime Minister hopefuls like Jeremy Corbyn took the stage. With Brexit looming and creating more tension in the United Kingdom, the speeches predictably revolved around Brexit and the nationalist sentiment behind it. While the speeches were certainly interesting, it was the feeling of celebration and camaraderie that made the Miners’ Gala so much fun.
I have also been working with a non-profit (or a ‘charity’ in the UK) called Moving On, which “aims to break the cycle of youth homelessness in County Durham.” I have been able to travel all across the County of Durham and see the different housing options that the non-profit works with, as well as speak with the youth that this organization strives to help. It has been an enlightening job placement, as I have been able to see how United Kingdom non-profits work differently than those in the United States. For example, Moving On is a private organization that gets most of its funding from governmental grants, therefore much of their fundraising energy is focused on applying for grants. On the other hand, many private non-profits based in the U.S. gain most of their funding from other private resources, such as business or individual donations. While the United States is similar to the United Kingdom in many general regards, it is interesting to see all the small ways in which the countries differ, other than just which side of the road we drive on. I hope in the next few weeks that we are here I am able to gain a deeper understanding of Durham County, as well as the United Kingdom as a whole.