The Folk School

In true Rebecca fashion, when I got my first catalog for the John C. Campbell Folk School, I wanted to take every class they had.  Blacksmithing? Sign me up!  Glass bead making? Yes, I want to do that! Woodturning?  Had no idea what that was, but after reading the class description, I wanted to try that too.

You can only take one class per week, so I somehow had to limit my choices.  So first I picked the week I would go, then I opened to the page that listed all the classes for just that week.  Now my list of 100 was down to 10.  The last one of the page was under the category “Writing.”  I knew I was not a writer, but as a Renaissance Soul I had to read the description for every class.  This one was called, “Your Life. Your Stories.”  I had a life.  And plenty of stories.  I continued reading.  It was a memoir writing class.  And the phrase that caught my eye?  “Beginners welcome.”  I qualified.

Me, Miss Arts-and-Crafts, taking a writing class?  I couldn’t explain it exactly, but I signed up.  Turns out the class was full and I was on the waiting list.  Did I want to pick another class instead?  No, I found myself saying.  I’ll just wait to see if a spot opens.  And mere weeks before the class was due to begin, I was in.

The Folk School is 2 hours south west of Asheville, NC.  Like most of you, I didn’t think there was 2 hours worth of North Carolina past Asheville, but I can confirm that yes, there is.  As soon as I met my bearded, pony-tailed driver at the Atlanta airport, I knew I was going to like this place.  The other women in the van were from Michigan and California.  The California woman was staying for two weeks.  For all the travel it took her to get to the place, she was going to make it worth her while.

I checked in and brought my bags up to my dorm room in the Keith House.  There were five other women in that room and one bathroom.  Two of the women were my travel partners in the van from Atlanta.  All were nice people.  At orientation, we were introduced to our Student Hosts.  During the day we could go to the office with our needs, but after hours they were our go-to people.  They gave us the schedule: there was an optional morning walk each morning at 7:15.  At 7:45, you could join Morningsong for local stories and music before the bell rang at 8:15 for breakfast.  Meals were served family style in the dining hall building.  Then, we were in class from 9:30-12.  Lunch was at 12:15 and then class again from 1:30-4:45.  There were additional optional afternoon and evening events.  Various instructors gave demonstrations of their class (I watched the watercolor and woodturning demos that week) and in the evenings there was dancing.  You see, the community room at the Keith House was used by the locals for dance practices and dances, and all Folk School attendees were welcome to join in.  I learned my fair share of contradancing and English Country dancing, and was fascinated watching the cloggers and some sort of dancing with swords.

I loved the whole experience – my instructor, my classmates, the wooded path I walked from my building to the writing studio each day, the food, eating with different people each time, the people, the atmosphere.  I knew I wanted to spend more than a week here.  And I figured out how to do it.  I would become a Student Host.

I had read about the positions on-line when I signed up for my class.  You serve as the RA on campus – but you deal with adults, not rowdy, drunk college students.  In return being the leader of morning walks and pre-meal blessings, for being the after-hours resource for clogged toilets, new towels, and trips to the hospital, you got to take classes every single week for six months!  So after my return from the Folk School, I applied.  Last week, on my second trip to the Folk School, I was accepted for a position!  From July 30 – Nov 26, 2011 I will be a student host:) (The positions are now just four months).

So I invite you all to check out the web site, and if you have any interest at all sign up for the catalog.  And five months from now, when you get the catalog with the Fall 2011 classes in it, sign up and come see me:)  And if you know of anyone that wants to sublet a lovely, furnished apartment in Staatsburg, NY for four months (or the whole semester) let me know!

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