Year-round, you can attend three- to seven-day courses and stay in dormitories, private rooms, and campsites on the school's 300-acre wooded campus. Course topics range from historic crafts such as blacksmithing and scrimshawing to more contemporary arts like digital photography and modern jewelry design. Of course, Appalachian arts and crafts are still the school's specialty: Try your hand at playing the mountain dulcimer or clawhammer banjo, make crafts like Appalachian baskets and wooden toys, or learn about North Carolina cooking and folklore.
While crafts classes are an important part of the curriculum, the school's overall goal, says Director Jan Davidson, is to promote non-competitive learning and community life. Thus, in between and after classes, students are encouraged to participate in community dances, watch craft demonstrations, attend evening music performances, and eat homemade meals with other students in the school's dining hall.
"I hope the Folk School will go on forever to give folks the same opportunities we've had to learn and enjoy," says South Carolinian Jack Smoot, who's been taking classes at the school since 1992. "The information is passed on in quite a true folk tradition. It's a face-to-face, people-to-people experience."
The detailsClass prices are $250 for weekend courses, $399 for Sunday-to-Friday courses, and $442 for Sunday-to-Saturday classes. Accommodations in the school's dorm and three meals per day range from $134 to $498 per person, depending on the length of stay and room category. Camping is also available. Some courses may have an additional materials fee. The school is within a two-hour drive of Asheville, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee.
Volunteer in an indigenous rainforest communityProvider:Yanapuma Foundation Price:$140 per week
The Yanapuma Foundation is a cooperative NGO that focuses on Ecuador's Amazon rainforest and mountain regions. Yanapuma helps traditional communities that are threatened by thoughtless development and outside economic pressures to create sustainable tourism programs and encourage the preservation of their natural and cultural resources.
As a volunteer, you'll live in one of six different communities and help them develop and refine sustainable businesses. You'll stay and eat your meals with a local family and, during the day, help out with projects such as replanting forests, teaching at a local school, or constructing visitor facilities. And if you're low on time, these cultural exchanges can be as short as a week.
The primary purpose of your service, however, will be helping the locals adjust to foreign visitors and providing feedback on how they can improve their tourism offerings. "The focus is more on spending time with members of the community and sharing cultures, learning about theirs and allowing them the chance to learn about yours," says Foundation President Andy Kirby.