Community – How do we all fit in?

Walking down a familiar corridor, glancing this way and that, colours, shapes and objects capturing and challenging my minds eye.  I am passing through the Art area in the Bangor campus of the North Down & Ards Institute of Further and Higher Education.


Off in the [not so distant] distance I hear singing, walking on toward the sound it appears to be staggered, stopping, starting, not a continuous flow.  Making me wonder if there is an audition in progress somewhere further up the hallway, come to think of it I did notice a couple of posters hanging here and there.  Someone is looking for a singer, more specifically a female singer, with an interest in Goldfrapp, La Roux, Electro pop.  This person should be attractive [one poster reading something a little extra “no ugos” I roll my eyes and smirk, tusk, tusk, how immature] but maybe more significantly who ever is advertising for the ‘attractive, female, singer’ she should be COOL.


Instantly I wonder what might pass as cool?  The advertiser, is he/she looking for a John Travolta “Be Cool” cool or would someone who exudes a quiet confidence, comfortable in their own skin pass the grade, doubtful that I’ll ever know so I resolve that it most likely lies somewhere in between.  A confident person who understands themselves and is comfortable accepting that they are enough, there is no need for add on’s or extra’s, surely this person would be cool?


The music in the distance sounding again snapping me back to the task at hand, yes there is a point to all of this I am looking for an angle to write an article. No day dreaming allowed, imagining my tutor cracking the verbal whip, so to speak!


Starting up the hallway passing the toilets, library, realising the music has stopped, I find myself outside of the conference centre, peering in I notice through the doors five ordinary looking women.  One behind a piano, the others seated to her right, on a row of chairs.  All are smiling, laughing, enjoying the moment it doesn’t look like a weekly class, maybe more like choir practice although they don’t all appear to be confident in their singing abilities.  Stepping out of sight not wanting to put any of them off, as I do the singing begins again.  Pretty good not sure why I seem surprised, they begin to harmonize with each other, “wait… in… the water” I don’t know the song but something resonates with me, a familiarity, warmth even in what is taking place.  Its past 8pm the lower corridor is empty at this end and only a small buzz is audible from the opposite side of where I am, I do not feel alone though.


Again I am wondering, now, about these women coming together through common interest, practicing this song, to what end though?  Will they perform, if so, who will they perform for, their friends/family, the Institute, people they work with or perhaps a group within the local community?  Which brings me around to who is benefiting from these women gathering here this evening, just they themselves?  Unlikely, having heard their song, I have gained, they don’t realise it but I am walking away lighter in step and brighter in mind.


But would it be fair to say Bangor campus is a pivotal point for the surrounding communities, does it encourage or inspire us and if so are we all aware of the positives?  Looking around I see many signs of community and inspiration, the art work hanging or free standing in a place where there would be nothing otherwise.  Through many posters that have been hung by students and staff alike, confirming events, encouraging ambitions of maybe speaking better English or becoming a singer in an electro pop band or perhaps someone somewhere has time to give as a volunteer.  Never the less it is clear to me, no one person or entity makes this place, from the staff at reception taking money and giving information, looking up to the hum of the lights thinking there must be someone to switch them off at night, the buzz in the classrooms not from the computers but from people young and old, interacting, exchanging, giving and receiving.


So if it is more than just the individual who benefits, do we all see the parts we play and realise the benefits that are carried on?


“Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.”  [Albert Einstein German born American Physcist]


Sarah Docherty – May 2009


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