Tag Archives: Ireland

The inside scoop on Irish dance

I recently spent five days surrounded by incredibly talented kids covered in fake tan, wigs, and Swarovski crystals. I realize this reads like an oxymoron, but for those of you who are familiar with Irish dance, you’re probably not surprised. See, the event I’m talking about is the North American Irish Dance Championships, this year held in Montreal, Canada. Over 2,000 Irish dancers from age 7 to adult danced in both team and solo competitions.

Emergency hair pinning.

Emergency hair pinning.

This year, my sister and I were two of these dancers. I competed in the Under 17 B group along with 140 other girls, while Fiona, my sister, was in the Under 13 B group. Our school, Tara Academy of Irish Dance sent 8 dancers, all in the solo competition. Solo dancing competitions involve two to three dances, each judged by three well-trained and well-respected adjudicators. Continue reading

The World is my Classroom

The-great-wall-of-china

The Great Wall of China

For as long as I can remember, my mom’s job has called her to conferences all around the world, and most of the time, my dad and I come too.  I’ve seen the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, and scores of ancient castles.  When I was really young these trips meant little more to me than seeing some cool places and buying souvenirs.  But now, I realize that the whole time I have been experiencing different history and cultures first hand.  Most of what I’ve learned from the places I go could also be learned from a book, but there is no substitute for physically experiencing these places and witnessing history with my own eyes; beholding unaltered, the raw truth. 

Crematorium at Auschwitz

Crematorium at Auschwitz

In eighth grade, there was a unit on The Holocaust.  We learned about it through films, songs, and poetry.  It had a big impact on me, but I still couldn’t fully grasp what had happened.  That summer, my family and I went to PolandI went on many tours, but the places that really stuck with me were Birkenau and Auschwitz.  Because of what I had learned in eighth grade, I was able to prepare myself for what these places might look like.  However, when I stood in front of the crematorium smokestack and saw it looming above me like a menacing giant, I was caught off guard by the feeling of hopelessness and anguish that surrounded it.  As I walked the gravel streets of Auschwitz, and stood at the spot where the arriving prisoners would have awaited the decision that would send them either to a labor camp or a crematorium, I felt closer to the people who had suffered there than I ever had before. 

The following year, at school, there was another unit about The Holocaust.  That time we read a book written by a Holocaust victim.  My experiences at Auschwitz and Birkenau allowed me to put myself into their shoes; to more accurately imagine what they might have seen, and feel what they might have felt. 

 

Aughnanure Castle

Aughnanure Castle

Earlier that year, my family and I went to Ireland.  One of the places we visited was Aughnanure Castle, which was previously owned by some of my ancestors, the O’Flahertys.  I had heard that they had tried to defend their territory from the Norman invaders.  Apparently they were rather good at it because the Normans, feeling threatened, built a wall around their city and upon it, posted this prayer: “From the Ferocious O Flaherty’s O Lord deliver us.”  It wasn’t until I was actually there that I found out about the brilliant defense system around Aughnanure castle, and I understood why the Normans were frightened.

I believe that traveling is the best way to learn, especially about history and culture, because when you experience a place for yourself you don’t have to look through someone else’s eyes, or rely on the words they have chosen to describe an indescribable feeling.  I realize now, that if a picture is worth a thousand words, then actually being there is nothing less than priceless.

–Christina, Northeast Teen Adviser

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