For at least one young Haywood County (NC) woman, a Folkmoot life leads to travel abroad.
Haywood County’s own Heather Davidson has been involved with Folkmoot for over a decade as a volunteer and for the past two summers as a guide for visiting dance troupes. Meeting so many people from around the world, from other cultures, led her to seek for herself the joys and eduction of life around the globe.
After graduating from the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartenburg, Heather departs in January for a learning and living experience in Europe.
“I’m determined to think my purpose in life is to see the world,” she said. “And I think that because of two reasons.
“One, because both of my sisters were married at 20, and well, that’s 6 days away for me and I’m totally not doing that. That’s out of the equation. I’m not near ready to settle down.
“And Two, I’ve been exposed to so many wonderful cultures through Folkmoot that there is no way I can ignore their beauty. Without being involved with Folkmoot you really have no idea how much of an affect other cultures have on you as a person.
“I have met so many friends because of Folkmoot. Most of them from other countries but many of them return to work every year and I cherish their friendships the most because we experience Folkmoot together. They are the ones who witness the departure tears when our groups load onto the bus for the last time. Seeing everyone interacting, laughing, and dancing is just an incredible thing to experience.
“The whole world is together for once, right here in Waynesville, North Carolina.
“Folkmoot isn’t all easy going, though. We struggle with language barriers, difficult traffic and schedule changes. But that’s the thing about Folkmoot: we make it work, and when things go wrong, we still dance the night away.
“There has never been a bad year at Folkmoot. I’ve experienced pretty much everything that could go wrong but I keep coming back because the good outweighs the bad – always.
“It makes me think about the world as whole. We have our bad days, sometimes weeks, but if we all just try like we do at Folkmoot, there could be so much more peace in the world. If we could all learn about a culture with open hearts, like we do at Folkmoot, we could have peace and understanding and stop the violence and hate that occurs everyday all over the world.
“Folkmoot has pushed me to explore all the corners of the earth. Studying abroad has never been an option for me, until I spoke to Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwalb. Here, we are a family and we support one another. We inspire one another to reach for goals we never thought possible before.
“Once you experience Folkmoot a fire is lit in you that can’t and won’t ever go out. Angie is such a role model and has made Folkmoot come so far. We adore her so much and are very grateful for her. She saw that I had a burning fire in me that I wouldn’t let out.
“So, I’m doing it. I’m studying abroad. I’m boarding a plane in January for an 8-hour flight to London. I will be abroad for 5 months studying at a major college, Kingston University.
“I will be traveling to Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Poland during my free time (mostly weekends and spring break). I’m looking forward to losing myself in these cultures. I want to embrace it while I can because this is what I am meant to do. Without Folkmoot I might have never discovered it.
“This is my purpose.”