Youth Volunteer Building Community: An Interview With MacKinley Hall
For over 50 years, Folklorama has brought people of all ages together to celebrate diversity. It is the work of the passionate youth volunteers that will keep the spirit of Folklorama alive for generations to come. We caught up with MacKinley Hall, Youth Council and Team Folklorama member, to learn more about his Folklorama journey.
Tell us a bit about your Folklorama journey!
I first got involved with Folklorama as a dancer for the Ireland-Irish Pavilion when I was 4 years old. I fell in love with the crowd and positive energy at my Pavilion. Then I continued to dance as I watched my family become more and more involved with Folklorama. I was counting down the days until I could apply to become an ambassador and was able to have the honour to represent my culture and the Folklorama Festival. When I was 14, I became the youth ambassador for the United Kingdom Pavilion. I had the privilege of being a three-time ambassador and two-time finalist of the Ambassador General competition. Since then, I have continued to represent Folklorama and multiculturalism within Winnipeg and Canada.
Why did you decide to join Youth Council and Team Folklorama?
I decided to join the Youth Council because I wanted to continue to promote cultural diversity within Winnipeg and Canada. I believe that everyone has a story to share, and being on Team Folklorama and the Youth Council gives me the opportunity to learn and appreciate other people’s stories. It also gives me the opportunity to promote cultural diversity and to continue to celebrate our differences.
What does being a part of Youth Council/Team Folklorama mean to you?
To me, being a part of the Youth Council is a true honour. Folklorama is a wonderfully unique Festival and I’m truly honoured to be able to represent it. Youth Council allows me and my peers to come together to celebrate diversity together and to continue to promote cultural understanding. It’s crucial that we celebrate diversity and understand our own stories and other peoples stories so that we can slowly start to recognize that we all have a lot more in common than we thought.
Share a favourite Folklorama memory!
During my first year of being ambassador, I met a couple at my Pavilion who said that they were from Scotland. We were looking a map of the UK when I asked them where in Scotland they were from, as I also have family from there. They said to me “oh it’s a very small isle” and then pointed to it. To my amazement, our family was from the same Isle. The island is 2 miles wide and 13 miles long. So to me, it was incredible that we were able to meet together through Folklorama. We took a picture together and shared stories about our families and our time visiting the island. That was a key moment in my life as I started to recognize that people have more in common than we think. It was incredible to be a part of a festival that brings people together as Folklorama does.
If a youth was thinking about joining Team Folklorama, what advice would you give them?
I would recommend them to reach out to Folklorama or their local cultural group! Folklorama is incredible and has done so much for me and my family. Everyone is extremely welcoming and friendly, so please don’t feel hesitant to reach out and join the Folklorama family. Who knows, maybe you’ll make some incredible connections as I did.
Interested in joining a network of over 20,000 volunteers? Visit our website to find out how you can become a volunteer today.