Come On Eileen
This past summer, I had the honor of attending the National Student Leadership Conference for International Diplomacy at Georgetown University. I met ambassadors from several countries, received a personal tour at the Embassy of Finland, and even saw the United Nations in session. But despite all these incredible experiences, one event stands out most: the first time I heard “too ra-loo ra, too ra-loo rye aye”.
There were 58 other high school students attending this ten-day conference with me, so one would assume that everybody would get to know maybe six new faces and then forget about them after a few weeks. “But not us (no never); we are far too young and clever.” After a somewhat cheesy team building experience at the University of Maryland ropes course, we were still struggling to make small talk on the seemingly endless bus ride home. Luckily, one Puerto Rican girl stirred up the murmurs by turning on her speaker and playing song requests, nervous that her own music would define herself for the next eight days. After a couple of low energy songs, another girl sitting with us suggested that “Come On Eileen” should be played next. I had never heard it before, so the rest of the bus looked at me like I had three heads. Once the song started, the dynamic instantly changed as people got out of their seats to dance and passionately blurt out the lyrics. I started learning the lyrics as well, for it was one of those songs that gets stuck in your head.
I continued singing this song to myself for that day, soon realizing other people started humming it too. Before I knew it, the hype of that famous accelerando reverberated from me and my small group to the whole conference. I played it while we wrote conflict resolutions for human trafficking, as well as when we toured the National monuments at night. I convinced the DJ to play it at our remaining dances, quickly turning them into raves. Those three beginning measures of that Irish melody transformed into a cue to immediately lift every spirit in that room and bring them together.
This song became essential to our conference, thus prompting all 59 of us to branch out, introduce ourselves, and become a community of lifelong friends. Shortly after first listening to what soon became my anthem, I got caught up in the excitement and realized eight days truly is not enough to get to know everyone. I decided I needed to make every second with every person count. It was the only definite chance we would all be together, and that was worth cherishing.
Although this conference ended on July 16th, nearly forty of us still keep in touch to this day. “Come On Eileen” can be heard from Oregon to Colombia, and from New York to Hong Kong. The friendships formed at this conference from all around the world are important to me, for they helped enlighten my global perspective. This song became a commonality among all of us, and the warm energy from it made these bonds so much stronger. It is so exciting to scroll through Instagram and see my friend from Mexico City post a photo of herself and caption it, “Pretty Red Dress,” knowing only a handful of her followers would recognize the lyric from this beloved Dexy’s Midnight Runners classic. It taught me that any moment can be great, but also go by in a second. It also taught me to make the most of every situation, and keep in touch with those that matter most. “Come On Eileen” will always remind me of this. “I’ll hum this tune forever”.