Reaching for the Stars by Adin White
|Castles and Communities staff member Colin Drake|
Jaramillo wows the crowd with a harmonica solo
When we all arrived in Ballintober, I think it's safe to assume none of us expected to have the opportunity to join locals of the county in comedy routines, live music, and Irish dancing. But, to my surprise, we were actively and enthusiastically encouraged to do so on multiple occasions. One of my favorite memories coming away from Ireland was one such occasion: The 'Reach for the Stars' Talent show.
The Talent show was a multi-round elimination kind of thing, and had been going in other parts of Roscommon County prior to our Arrival. Participants were scored by two judges on a ten-point scale based on two criteria: Their stage performance, and their actual perceived talent.
Like any talent show, the opinions of the judges were subjective, so it was hard to watch a fellow student get a score that the rest of us may have felt was undeservedly low, but everybody took their scores like champions.
The performances ranged from the jokes between the children of the directors, to Ocarinas and something like opera singing. I was surprised by the number of willing participants and even more-so by the incredible response from the local towns people. The crowd of onlookers was huge! I suspect that at least a quarter of the population of Ballintober was there applauding each and every one of us, genuinely entertained by us Americans.
I personally did not make it past the Ballintober round, but I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it thanks to the warm and welcoming response of the crowd.
In closing, I would encourage all future students and staff alike to get on stage and do whatever you want. It's not about winning or showing off, it's about showing that you appreciate the hospitality of the wonderful people of Roscommon county and Ballintober have shown to all of us in giving us opportunities like this, and showing them that you are indeed willing to participate and excited to be in their homeland, not just because you are obligated to do so.