This is not a particularly striking photo, I know, but the memories that this photo invokes for me are striking. In late January 2009, along with sixteen other Willamette students who were also spending the semester in Ireland, I spent four days in Connemara, Ireland, which is a gaeltact, or Irish gaelic-speaking region. We were there to learn to speak Irish, but the most memorable part for me was staying with a host family for those four days. This is a photo of my host family’s home in Carraroe, a village in Connemara. My host mother was very friendly and inviting, encouraged us to use our (limited) Irish, and cooked incredible meals for us. Our host father was an Irish-language radio host, and sang Irish songs around the house. Their kids were funny and smart, and talked to us about American movies, Irish comedians, and rugby.
The whole time I was in Ireland, I felt like I was constantly noticing differences between the Irish and Americans. Spending time with this family was the one time when I really noticed similarities between Irish families and American families. The kids bickered, their mom helped them with their homework, their dad took them to their rugby games. Although they spoke Irish and the details of their lives were a little different, as a family they were very similar to American families. I found this both comforting and interesting. I felt more at home during those four days than I did at any other time while I was abroad.
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