In Central New York, Irish culture and heritage is pretty common, due to the large number of Irish descendants who live here.
Tipperary Hill in Syracuse is known nation-wide for its upside-down stoplight, the city holds a big St. Patrick’s day celebration every year and the area is home to eight different Irish dance schools.
Interest in Irish culture has grown internationally in recent years too, thanks in part to the popularity of traveling dance shows like “Lords of the Dance” and “Riverdance.” One Skaneateles native has helped feed this interest in Irish culture by teaching Irish dance to children in China.
Jesse Hoselton, of Skaneateles, has been teaching English to third, fourth, fifth and seventh grade students in Zhangjiagang, China for almost two years. She has also been helping teach Irish dance to students at the school; a skill she honed through years of lessons in Skaneateles.
Hoselton is living in China on a work visa and got her placement at a school through the Council of International Educational Exchange. The transition to living in China was not too hard because she had majored in East Asian studies with a concentration in Chinese language while at college.
When she applied with the council, they asked for her resume as well as her personal goals and hobbies and they were able to match her up with a school that has a burgeoning Irish dance program.
“Our headmaster adores Irish dance and had asked one of the Chinese music teachers (Miss Wu) here to start learning Irish dance the year before I came. When I arrived, I was amazed to see that many of the students already knew some Irish dance movements and that the music from ‘Riverdance’ played over the speakers in between classes,” she said.
Hoselton has been teaching Irish dance in the school now for almost two years and this month had the opportunity to take 15 of her students to the first ever Irish dance competition, called a “feis,” held in Asia and officially licensed with the Irish Dance Commission.