Arts and Entertainment
March 31, 2014
Parkway Place, a senior living community in Houston, celebrates a new culture every month. The residents enjoy learning about different cultures, listening to myths, trying traditional cuisine and observing natural photographs. This month, the community is celebrating Irish-American Heritage. They scheduled a special performance by Irish dancers. Many of the residents have unique backgrounds and ancestors from different countries. The grandparents of Ruth Frederickson, a resident of Parkway Place, traveled to America during the potato famine in the 1800s. She traveled to Ireland to experience the country her family once called home.
"My great grandparents traveled from Ireland to the United States in 1851 during the potato famine," said Frederickson. "They were from Northern Ireland. We tried to find their exact location, but did not make it that far during our travels. We did tour other historical sites and participated in local traditions. While there, I kissed the Blarney Stone for good luck. I am almost 94 years old, so I think that means I am lucky."
Frederickson enjoyed the visit and had fun comparing the foreign country to the U.S. During her visit, she wondered what it would have been like to have grown up in Ireland. She was fascinated by the culture, appreciated all the people she met and savored the experience. She is interested in learning about more Irish traditions and myths. She especially enjoys the tale of the leprechaun and his hidden pot of gold.
To celebrate Irish-American Heritage Month in a unique and artistic way, the community invited an Irish dance group from the O'Maoileidigh School of Dance ( pronounced "Oh M'Lady School of Dance") out to perform special dances for the residents. The residents appreciated the cultural performance and were delighted to learn about a new style of dance.
"The performance was lively and their costumes accentuated their fluidic movements," said resident Lonnie Judson. "They were a delight to watch. I thought of my husband during the show, as he was from Irish decent. His mother and grandmother had immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland, but had to live on an island by Lake Michigan until they were approved for entry. Eventually, they were able to live in Chicago. He was eager to explore Ireland and see the place where his ancestors had lived for many years. We spent time touring castles, kissing the Blarney Stone, interacting with men in kilts and learning more about the history of the country at historical sites. It was quite an adventure. My husband could not get over the fact that the men actually wore kilts."
Judson is no stranger to travel. She and her husband were married in Aruba and spent a few years living in Pennsylvania. She likes learning about different cultures and believes it is of importance to understand people's backgrounds, traditions and values.
"One of the elements of our BE Well program involves presenting opportunities for participation in cognitive activities," said Jimmy Johnson, executive director of Parkway Place. "Linda Fitzhugh, the community's life enrichment coordinator, plans weekly activities that challenge the brain to keep mental acuity sharp. Learning about new places, people and culture is one of the monthly events that the life enrichment team puts together. It is a fun program and all the residents relish in learning about fascinating topics."