Folkmoot Guides map the festival trail and without this tough and resilient corps of young Western Carolina leaders the Folkmoot Festival would be stranded in the wilderness.
The Guides are high school and college students who dedicate a summer (often multiple summers) to Folkmoot and serve as counselors, tour leaders, information specialists, sometimes translators and overall top assistant and major domo for each of the international dance troupes visiting Western Carolina for the Folkmoot Festival.
Without this devoted and enthusiastic corps of young leaders the visiting groups might feel lost and overwhelmed by the non-stop adventure that is participating in Folkmoot and the festival itself could simply not survive without the Guides.
For their part, the Guides find the experience nothing short of life-changing. Many Folkmoot Guides have gone on to build careers based in whole or in part on the values they learned through the Folkmoot experience – values of peace-making, cultural understand and cultural exchange.
Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians.
The activities, duties and responsibilities of Folkmoot Guides begin well before the festival and last for weeks following the festival. This is no ordinary summer job. It’s more favorably compared, perhaps, to a long-term mission trip – one is which participants both change the world and are changed by it.
Folkmoot Guide Training begins this week
Although working throughout the summer getting ready for the 2018 Folkmoot Festival, the Guides’ training begins in earnest – and in an intense, immersive timetable – on Friday. Yes, Friday the 13th. Whatev.
During the training – and during the Festival – the Guides will live at Folkmoot Center, as will the visiting dance troupes when they begin arriving next week.
Training focuses on topics such as, “what leadership looks like,” “what to expect at Folkmoot,” Folkmoot sign language (yes, we have our own), emergency procedures, conflict resolution & peace-making, world & global politics & societies, Cherokee & First Nations 101, stage management, stage lighting, stage sound and many other topics.
Sound intense? Yes, it is. But along the way they will also have wonderfully fun times and adventures and form bonds with each other – and with the visiting dance troupes – which will last the rest of their lives.
Being a Folkmoot Guide is simply an experience of one’s lifetime. Ask any of them – past or present – and they will tell you.
Folkmoot Guides 2018
If you visit any Folkmoot 2018 performance or event, you will no doubt spot these outstanding young people popping in and out of crowds, dashing and darting about and, generally, making all the magic look like magic.
The 2018 Guide Corps includes:
Heather Davidson has been around Folkmoot since she was a child. Her mother was a volunteer, and Heather spend many summers at Folkmoot with her. She volunteered every year until she was old enough to be a guide. She has since been a guide for Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Uganda, France, and Russia! Her favorite part about Folkmoot is the time in between all the events, shows, and meetings. She loves this time because it’s when she gets to know everyone and become like a family during their time together.
Yetunde Bashorun is a returning guide with Folkmoot and 2018 will be her second festival. She was the intern who helped to launch Cultural Conversations in 2017. Yetunde loves working with Folkmoot because she cares about the organization’s mission to celebrate diversity and inclusion throughout western North Carolina communities. Yetunde loves to be outdoors and is an avid hiker. Yetunde was born in Lagos Nigeria.
Ethan Cronk has worked with Folkmoot during the annual Folkmoot festival for two years now and is coming up on his third year. The last two festivals he worked as an assistant guide and is ready to jump in as a full guide this summer! He loves working with Folkmoot because it offers a family-like community, and he gets to interact with people from all over the world. Ethan will be graduating from Tuscola High School this summer and plans to attend NC State for International Business.
Avery is returning as an Assistant Guide for the 2018 Festival and attends Tuscola High School. He is a junior in high school with an array of talents. Avery plays the violin and baritone, works on computers, is a stilt walker, and has studied jujitsu for eight years. 2018 is Avery’s fourth festival. He thought Western North Carolina felt like a new American sub-culture compared to his birthplace in California and was grateful have Folkmoot as an opportunity to have access to international cultures.
Harper is a student at Tuscola High School who is excited to be returning to Folkmoot as an Assistant Guide. Last year he helped out in a variety of ways for including holding the role as lead on souvenirs and being an assistant guide. 2018 is Harper’s fourth festival. Harper is a stilt walker and plays the clarinet, piano, and various percussion instruments. Harper was also the president of the eighth-grade woodwinds and will be Drum Major for the Tuscola High School Marching Band this year.
Kaitlyn is a student at Tuscola High School where she participates in the Tuscola SWAT Team and is Librarian of Tuscola Band. “I am excited to be working as an Assistant Guide at Folkmoot because it is a great opportunity to experience different cultures and spread diversity throughout the community.”
Grace is a sophomore at Tuscola High School and has experienced many cultures through travels with her family. Grace has a passion for egalitarianism (the doctrine that all people are equal) and shares this value with the Folkmoot organization. Grace lived in Singapore for two years and she embraced and enjoyed the cultural differences. Grace has helped run a nursery and served on the school’s volunteer outreach program.
Gracie is a high-school student who enjoys playing the piano and studying foreign languages. She is currently learning Spanish and French. Gracie has been an Assistant Guide for Peru, India and Dominican Republic. After her first festival, Gracie took a trip with her grandmother to Peru to visit the friends she had made at Folkmoot.
Izzy is a returning Assistant Guide for Folkmoot. “During my time at Folkmoot during the last festival, I was able to experience some truly incredible escapades and would love to encounter more amazing events.” She was raised to respect people of all different races and religions.
Alma is a student at Tuscola High School, she enjoys playing her flute in the School’s symphonic band and marching piccolo in the Tuscola High School Marching Band. This will be Alma’s first year working with Folkmoot as an assistant guide and she is most excited about working with people from new and different cultures. She looks forward to meeting new friends and gaining new experiences you can only get from being involved in Folkmoot.
Jena is a student at Tuscola High school she is optimistic, enthusiastic and extremely excited to work with Folkmoot this year. Her favorite thing about Folkmoot is “being able to interact with different cultures other than her own.” She loves meeting new people that she can learn from and Folkmoot makes her want to keep learning about the world and everyone in it.
Andrea is a student at Tuscola High School where she participates in the Tuscola High School Marching Band, Winter Guard And she is HOSA Vice President. She enjoys playing her clarinet in the schools symphonic band and marching color guard in the schools marching band. Her favorite thing about Folkmoot is being able to interact with different people from around the world that she normally would not be able to meet without this organization.
Afton is a high school student at Tuscola, she enjoys playing her clarinet in the schools symphonic band and marching color guard in the schools Marching Band, she also enjoys participating in the schools Winter Guard. She enjoys traveling and seeing new places in the world. Her favorite thing about Folkmoot is seeing the diversity and different cultures all working together as well as making lifelong memories with amazing people.
Connor is an undergraduate student at NC State. He enjoys studying languages and world politics. Over the past year, Connor lived in the Global Village at NC State with international students from over 20 different nations, so coming aboard as a guide will be a natural return to the type of international community he has grown accustomed to.
Garrett is a high school student at Tuscola, he plays the trumpet in many ensembles both on and off campus such as the Schools Marching Band and also plays in the school’s jazz band. Garrett is easy-going and will always bring a smile to your face. His favorite thing about Folkmoot is the music of the many cultures presented by the different groups.
Samual Eason Esquivel is 18 years old and a recent graduate of Cherokee High School, GO BRAVES! He loves acting and singing and will be going to school in NYC at AMDA in October for musical theater. He loves traveling and meeting new people. If he had a million dollars he would probably spend half of it on food. This is Easons first year as a guide but has worked with Folkmoot before as a Cherokee performer and ambassador.