The first scheduled event of our study abroad program was to find our way to and around the Titanic Museum in Belfast this morning.
Unlike any other museum I have been to, this museum had a ride in it. Each cart on the ride hung from the ceiling, took four people around, and played audio clips telling the stories of the men in Belfast who built the ship. They talked about the heat that resulted from burning coal, and actually heated up the ride at this point. I had never exactly thought about how grueling the construction of a ship like that could be, especially given the difference in technology from 1911 to today. The ride was informative and it was a fun, interactive way to grab attention.
A more serious aspect of the museum that stuck with me today was the exhibit containing the message transcripts that were sent by the Titanic to surrounding boats before and after hitting the iceberg. Another ship warned the Titanic of the icy waters, to which the man sending telegraphs for the Titanic replied, “shut up, I am working.” It is unbelievable to think that this entire event could potentially have been avoided had the ship’s communicator taken that message to heart. As the ship was sinking, messages became more frantic and more emotional, and I started to put myself in the shoes of those on the boat in a way that I’ve never done before.
Reading the stories of those who went down with the ship and what they had planned was heartbreaking, as well. There was a nine-year-old boy who died on the Titanic, and he was on his way to Detroit with his family. That young boy was supposed to live under an hour from where I live in Michigan today, and who knows how he could have impacted the city.
Learning the stories about the ship’s construction, its crew, and its passengers was eye-opening and pushed my mind to consider the tragic event more greatly than when I simply watch the Leo and Kate film. I’ll “never let go” of the experience we had today at the Titanic Museum.