Somehow, the summer has evaporated and school has begun. With the beginning of the fall semester, our talented magazine students have left the land to return to the classroom. Over the course of eight weeks, the Foxfire Fellows conducted over 14 interviews covering topics from folk art to cooking to the opioid crisis. In addition to interviewing, transcribing, writing, filming, editing, and picture taking, each student also selected a heritage skill to learn during their time on The Land. Three students elected to pursue blacksmithing, firing up the forge once a week under the direction of curator Barry Stiles. Two students took to woodstove cooking and even prepared a meal for 20 people here! The remaining students each chose either broommaking or weaving and worked directly with our resident artists. This experience was by far everyone’s favorite part of the summer. Over the next two months, students will return regularly to Foxfire and begin laying out the fall/winter issue of the magazine. We are incredibly excited to share their hard work with you and will post updates as publication gets closer.
As a final piece of their program, we asked each student to write a reflection piece. We wanted to share some excerpts with you, so that you could hear from the students themselves just how impactful this summer was (for both them and us!).
Senior and returning student Jesse:
“We got to choose a heritage skill to do during the summer; mine was blacksmithing. I got to learn how to start the forge, use the anvil and hammer. I learned how to create things such as hooks, forks and even a knife. Every Friday I got to blacksmith and fill the mountain with the smell of coal and the sounds of metal being hammered into its desired shapes. Getting to take our creations home and put them to good use is a very gratifying thing. The fork that I made is now used to place meat on our grill. Other students did things such as broom making, weaving and cooking. This program is a truly unique experience and can teach you valuable skills. Sure, it’s a museum that has it’s employees who have duties they need to attend to every day. However it is so much more than that. It’s a family, a family of people all working together never afraid to stop what they’re doing to help another. A family of people who are always cheerful and ready to help you through your questions know matter what.”
Freshman and first-time Foxfire writer Mario:
“I learned a lot during the past eight weeks. I’ve learned to be a better writer, I’ve learned how to transcribe, I learned how to blacksmith, but most of all I learned that where you come from, your culture, your ethnicity, your traditions, your heritage, matters. I had no idea that Rabun County and the surrounding areas are this special. There is so much here that was right under my nose, and working here at Foxfire has helped me see that.
One of the main characteristics I like about Foxfire is the feel. When you walk through the museum it feels like you went back in time and started walking through people’s homes. The feel is so different and special. The woods are around you, your walking through cabin that older than anyone you know. The museum here is not like the others, you aren’t walking through an air-conditioned building looking at artifacts in glass cases, your walking in the conditions these people lived in, in the buildings they lived in, looking at thing people used. This museum is so special because it portrays these things as everyday things that actual people used.”
Freshman and first-time Foxfire student McKaylin:
“[At the end of the program], I realized I learned more in Foxfire about writing than I have in school. Once I got used to everyone, our true personalities showed through our nerves. [It] seemed like all the pieces fit together, and this summer was not a waste. It was completely the opposite. Along with writing an article, I made six friends. I made a broom along with making an article. It [broommaking] was my favorite part of this whole internship. Carol was very nice, and was very easy to learn from.
[When I applied to the program], I had to write an essay about what it is like to be an Appalachian. I said that every time I can, I appreciate the mountains. Now I am so fortunate to get to work in them. I appreciate it everytime I go to [Foxfire], and it is difficult to get through the day without someone who loves and appreciate the mountains too. So, my opinion has not changed in the last two months on this topic. Most times I would change my opinion over two months. Foxfire only strengthened my opinion. That is why I believe Foxfire was great for me, and the other interns in this program.”
~ Kami Ahrens, Assistant Curator