Hello readers! My name is Myah Baird.

Hello readers! My name is Myah Baird.

Hello readers!

My name is Myah Baird. I would like to formally introduce myself as the newest member of Folkmoot USA in Waynesville, North Carolina.

I am joining Folkmoot as an intern writer and blogger through Western Carolina University, where I attend school. 

I am nineteen years old and working on my major in political science with a minor in international studies and journalism. I am in my second semester of school and so excited to be learning in these beautiful mountains.

Hello readers! My name is Myah Baird.

My hobbies include writing, hiking, snowboarding, reading, singing, playing my guitar and ukulele, spending time with my friends, and traveling.

A quote I choose to live by comes from the great Albert Einstein: “The only source of knowledge is experience”.

This resonates with me as I think about my future with Folkmoot. If there’s anything I want from life, it is experience. My goal is to truly learn about our world and the way we all function in order to work together despite all of the barriers we face; cultural, linguistic, political, religious and others.

I began writing at an early age in my hometown Franklin, winning state awards as a young author. Of course I have always written in my journal; writing about people and how we think, what makes us different and the unique aspects of our lifestyles. These are all subjects about which I hope to write pieces for Folkmoot.

I will be conducting interviews with local people, spending time with this year’s Folkmoot Festival international visitors, as well as blogging online to keep everyone updated. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for this opportunity and I hope you all can enjoy this experience with me as I learn more about our world’s beautiful diversity.  

Folkmoot 2018 is set for July 19-29 at performance venues in Haywood County, North Carolina and across the Western Carolina region. Tickets for some performances are already available online. Others will be added soon.

When Waynesville surgeon, Dr. Clinton Border, returned home after seeing a dance team at an English folk festival, he thought such a festival would be perfect for Western North Carolina, which had its own rich history of preserving its traditional culture.  It took from 1973, when Border made his trip, to 1984 before the first Folkmoot USA event took place.  That year, symbolic as it was also the year that North Carolina celebrated its 400th birthday, welcomed performers from England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Turkey, Mexico, Puerto Rico and India.  

In 2002, the Folkmoot Friendship Center leased the former Hazelwood Elementary School, thus giving it a home to expand its programming and activities.  In 2014, the Haywood County school system donated the school to the organization.  Now, this multi-faceted space has created an expanded opportunity for Folkmoot to move from a two week festival to a year-round cultural center, focusing on programs and events that celebrate diversity and differences, encourage cultural conversation and inclusion, and preserve and honor worldwide cultural heritages, especially using dance as a tool to achieve world peace.

Since these humble yet visionary beginnings in 1984, more than 8,000 international performers from 200 countries have entertained and thrilled residents and guests of Western North Carolina.

College students who serve as interns – Jansen Haneline

College students who serve as interns

Folkmoot benefits each school year from an amazing array of talents and contributions from (mostly) college students who serve as interns.

And, well, we like to think they benefit enormously, too, from their time with Folkmoot.

Folkmoot 2018 is set for July 19-29. Tickets for many performances are already available online. Click here for more information about this year’s festival.

A student intern serving this spring from Western Carolina University is Jansen Haneline (pronounced, “YAHN-sen HAYN-lyn”).

College students who serve as interns

Folkmoot staff members have noticed Jansen has a keen sense of detail, is a great writer and is truly inspired by international culture. Jansen has helped with Cultural Conversations work, marketing pieces and will play a big role in guide training this spring.

“I am currently in my sixth semester as an undergraduate at Western Carolina,” explained Jansen. “My studies include everything and anything related to the interconnectedness of global politics, human cultures, and language.  

“After I graduate in May 2019, I plan to move to Sweden to pursue a MS in Global Studies from Gothenburg University.

“In the Autumn of 2016, I studied abroad in Oulu, Finland where I became hooked on being immersed in foreign cultures.  To remedy going all of 2017 without travel, I will be spending a month in Stuttgart, Germany via the German language faculty-led program and then I will be spending the Autumn 2018 semester in Linköping, Sweden for a total of seven months abroad.

“When I am not studying, I am most likely working on something related to one of my many on-campus activities. Currently, I am serving as a Study Abroad Ambassador, iPal to exchange students, course tutor in anthropology and political science, the President of the Anthropology Club, and the Secretary of the International Studies Club.

“When I am not involved on campus, I am either writing and playing music with friends, hiking somewhere in the Appalachian mountains or playing video games with my cousin online.  

My greatest passion is music and have become a bit of an avid collector of physical music and music merchandise, including CD’s, vinyl, box sets, t-shirts, posters, and patches. My absolute favorite thing is to go to to shows where I can see and often meet my favorite bands. “

Folkmoot is engaging regional art organizations

Folkmoot engages regional art organizations

As part of its overall focus on promoting the arts – folk dance being our own specialty – Folkmoot is engaging regional art organizations.

Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab joined other art organization leaders March 17 at Western Carolina University for the LEAD: Arts Conference on Regional Art, “Beginning the Conversation.”

WCU, long recognized for its outstanding arts, culture and creative arts programs, is the catalyst for the formation of a regional arts coalition.

Folkmoot USA - Angie Schwab.
Angeline Schwab

“Our region is known for music and arts, so that piece is in place,” Schwab  told the Smoky Mountain News. “I think there is an opportunity for our industry to focus our resources on building a culture that understands the economic impact of arts and cultures, and that welcomes and nurtures arts organizations, arts and music education, and that focuses on arts entrepreneurships.”

George Brown, dean of WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts, said the effort can only enhance the regional art community and forge a wider effort to promote the arts in all its many forms found all over Western Carolina.

Western Carolina University LEAD: Arts“The arts and artists are essential elements for a healthy community,” Brown said. “Art improves the quality of life. Artists make good neighbors. This conference will go beyond discussion of the role of arts in the community. Western Carolina University and Western North Carolina will come together through art to take action and foster a better tomorrow for the region.”

A regional arts coalition fits in well with Folkmoot’s Mission Statement:

Folkmoot…fosters the vibrancy of many cultures into one community. Folkmoot programs are based on cultural exchange and designed to build global relationships, foster cultural understanding and develop community prosperity.

Our origins trace back to 1973 when Dr. Clinton Border, a Waynesville surgeon, accompanied a local square dance team – the Soco Gap Dance Team – to a folk festival in Sidmouth, England. There began the dream that would, 11 years later, become Folkmoot USA.

Border was convinced that Western North Carolina, which was already steeped in tradition and dedicated to the preservation of its own heritage, was the perfect location for an international folk festival in the United States. During the next few years, Border traveled to other festivals in Poland and France and began gathering information and developing contacts. He also started contacting local government and community leaders back home.

By 1983, Border was ready to present his vision to Haywood County’s community leaders. Despite language barriers and the inherent scheduling difficulties involved in getting foreign performers from their homes to Haywood County, Border believed something invaluable occurs when cultures so rich in tradition come together to share their lives.

One month after Border’s presentation to community leaders, a board of directors met to launch Folkmoot USA, the North Carolina International Folk Festival.