My name is Kristyene Boreland. I came to Northern Ireland way back in 1991 or 92 and eventually settled down in 93. I was born in Singapore. It’s a tiny island in the Far East, just at the tip of Malaysia. I was born there and my grandparents in my mother’s side came from Malaysia and we used to spend summer holidays over in Malaysia. I worked as a nurse in my home country, as a registered nurse, qualified. And then I decided to go to the Middle East during the first Gulf War and to get to know the culture in the Middle East and... just find something new to do besides nursing in Singapore and get a bit of travel around the world. So I enjoyed living in the Middle East. The fantastic thing in the Middle East was that despite the war going on and on they are all very positive. In the Sultanate of Oman, you know, it was a mix sort of a setting; people are from all over country and all over the world, from Sweden to Russia to Lebanon to Australia and Philippines and all that, so it was good camaraderie. And that’s where I met my husband. He is from Ballymena. He was born in Ballymena. It’s really funny because he worked for the BBC far eastern release station, and then from there just love blossomed, and then he and I came along to Northern Ireland. That’s how we reached Northern Ireland. Many people here think- they wonder why I came to Northern Ireland at all, but it’s because love brought me here. So when I left Singapore, it was just myself. It was the man that I fell in love with that brought me to Northern Ireland. I’ve lived in Northern Ireland since ’93 and that was just when the Peace Treaty was being brokered. So my first impression of Northern Ireland was very positive. I thought it was a very pleasant, beautiful country. It’s warm, friendly. I love the life over here in Northern Ireland; it was kind of quaint and very traditional, like over in my grand parents’. So I don’t feel out of place in Northern Ireland. I’ve kind of adapted and adjusted to, you know, lifestyle over here very well.
I would say, one interesting for me over year where I can claim my place in the conflict is (that) I was in the last bombing in the Europa hotel. My husband was driving the car to, you know I was working at the Windsor Hospital at that time. What happened was that as my husband was
￼driving me up to it, the bomb went off, and I was asleep in the car, and I just woke up, and there was like a WUSH sound, but thankfully no one was injured. That was the last bombing of Europa and that was the most famous hotel in the world to be repeatedly bombed. That’s what they say. Well, that’s my claim to the conflict.
Besides that, why did I choose Northern Ireland? I couldn’t say that I chose Northern Ireland; it was my destiny and fate to be here, and I just believe when you are brought to a certain place it means you’ve got some work to be done. So to me it’s a positive peace-making-sort-of situation where I’ve done my nursing over years. I’ve nursed in the hospital and nursing homes and in the school health and in the district and various places as an agency nurse. But I’ve changed around to promoting eastern culture and anti-sectarianism and anti-hateness. So my message basically from peacemaking through Middle Eastern dance is to bring about positivity and to help people benefit from the health aspect of dance and at the same time have a cultural understanding and respect for the Middle East and their culture. Because like we see there are different cultures that make up the world. Just having one culture is gonna be very monotonous. Even though we are one human race, it’s lovely to be able to appreciate and accept and embrace the diversity that’s all around.
What I’ve brought with me today is a fan and that reminds me- when you think of fans it reminds you of the Japanese and the orientals. I know the majority of people in Singapore are of the oriental race. But saying that, we have to think of the Japanese occupation of Singapore and what Japan had left Singapore with, the rich heritage of the language and the art and the cultural aspects of it. And if you think it, once upon a time when Japan tried to take Malaysia and especially Singapore by force. That all changed around when they surrendered. Now when you look back, actually the car’s made in Japan; your washing machine is made in Japan; your TV’s made in Japan, and songs you listen to could be a Japanese songs. So I think it’s lovely to know that we can accept another culture to embrace the diversity. The fan is important to me because Northern Ireland has been keeping very hot with the
temperatures going into the 20s and even though I come from a very warm country I find it unbearably hot because I’ve be come so acclimatized to the weather in Northern Ireland and being Northern Irish, I consider myself Northern Irish. I love the rain and I think that’s what besets the beautiful lush look around you and the fan is just merely to just keep me cool.