The Rotary Club of Highland Park/Highwood celebrated its 20th TABU exchange with the Rotary Club of Belfast commencing on March 23. TABU (To Achieve a Better Understanding) began during the troubled times in Northern Ireland with the goal to create a better mutual understanding between different communities by studying conflict resolution. This includes finding ways to break down barriers among people, particularly young people, and learning how to reconcile differences.

Six students from Highland Park High School are carefully selected by the club’s membership and school officials to go on this exchange every other year, while in alternate years six local Belfast students visit Chicago. Last year six students from Belfast visited the Highland Park Police Department, local Court Buildings, Great Lakes Naval Base, The Anti-Defamation League, The Holocaust Museum, Highland Park and Waukegan High Schools as well as many local points of interest.

Highlights of this year’s trips included lunch with the four Chaplains at Queens University, a tour of the Belfast Royal Academy, meetings with the First and Deputy Ministers at Stormont Castle, tours of the Laganside Courts, Hydebank Wood Prison and Young Offenders Centre as well as scenic tours of the Northern Ireland coast and country. The students also attended a reception at the Lord Mayor’s Parlour including a tour of City Hall and a lunch at the Belfast Rotary Club. Each student spoke before the Rotary membership about their experiences with the program and fielded questions on life in the United States.

All the students agreed the trip was a life-changing event with memories that will last a lifetime.

For more information on TABU or the Rotary Club of Highland Park/Highwood visit us on the web. Or read a complete blog of the trip from the student’s perspective.