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NGI Recipient: Emily Touchet

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Dance & Music Week (2018)

My body relaxed into the wooden dock as I looked up at the night sky, surrounded by the sounds of gently lapping water and the comfortable silence of dear friends I met at camp. Shooting stars lit up different parts of the sky. I felt energized and pleased to be a part of the universe.

The CDSS American Week reminded me of the power of building communities based in love and respect, the magic of music making and dancing and of the joys of midnight swimming. I spent the week having good conversations with kind, intelligent, curious people, swimming every morning to wake up, learning lots of new tunes on the cello and playing with wonderful musicians, dancing dancing dancing, eating delicious food, reading poetry in a hammock, singing, learning to identify types of trees, napping and being silly.

Coming home after camp, I approached my life with a bit of extra energy and enthusiasm. I have hosted multiple jam sessions at my house and shared many of the tunes I learned at camp. I look forward to going to more contra dances and to continuing to play and share folk music with new and old friends, family and community members. I am so appreciative of all I learned about community building, the generous and caring people I got to meet, the magical musical and dancing experiences I had and the energy this week gave me.

For me, American Week marked a shift in how I relate to folk communities. Before, I saw myself as someone sneaking in the door, quietly participating, observing and absorbing. Shared meals, classes, dances, conversations and music making opened me up to this community and helped me understand that I want to be and can be an active participant. The NGI Scholarship was what made this possible.