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NGI Recipient: Jessie Rose Berne

Session Attended: Folk Arts Center of New England - FAC Weekend (2013)

The week I spent at Pinewoods International Camp will be forever etched in my memory and fill my heart with joy. The camp felt like a dream come true, ripe with cool winds brought by the lake, and trees to shade us from the heat of the sun. It was a perfect setting for daily dancing and swimming!

As a newcomer to Boston and the folk dance community, I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome I was given by everyone there.

Every day included new dances from Armenia, Romania, Azerbajan, and Georgia taught by Maurits and Tineke van Geel. Their teaching was fun, exciting, well-paced, and always encouraging. I admired the deep knowledge and appreciation they had for the cultures whose dances they were passing on, as much as their mastery in teaching them.

Not only were these dances new to me, but most of the dances during the evening sessions were too. Even though I fumbled for the right steps at first, I was eager to learn and everyone was so willing to help show me the steps, and encouraged me to keep trying. By the end of the session, I felt I had mastered many dances and definitely was bitten by the bug to continue learning more!

Dancing to the incredible Pinewoods band was another thrill and truly unforgettable. As a musician myself, I was in awe of them all, and inspired by their versatility, skill, and endurance!

I was so happy to have the chance to play fiddle both during the music sessions and impromptu jams. It was a treat to play with such eclectic musicians, and to share the love of a wide variety of musics. A rare and precious time.

I hope to continue learning international repertoire of both the music and dances in order to be able to one day teach some in my first grade classroom. It was wonderful seeing the children learning the dances, and singing with Julia. It felt like a family and I am so grateful to have been invited into it. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I will cherish this experience and hope to come back again next year for more celebration of folk music and dance!