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Archive for April, 2009

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Winter on the Kuskokwim Delta

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009


Well, once again, I was out of money, so it was time to head to an Alaskan village and do some more long-term substitute teaching.  I was able to get a Special Ed job at Kasigluk-Akiuk, a Yup’ik Eskimo community in the western part of the state.  The school has about 80 kids from pre-school throught the 12th grade.  There are no roads here, and since I arrived in winter, I have only known this place covered with ice and snow.  For the first month, I lived in the school as there wasn’t any housing available.  The commute was easy, but I really couldn’t relax as there was no privacy – especially because it was basketball season and there were teams from neighboring villages staying at the school every weekend.

There are two other villages very close by and some of the teachers at the sites get together once a week for dinner and again to play basketball.  Carey, a 2nd grade teacher from Nunapichuk, had a 3-bedroom house to herself and invited me to share the place.  It meant a commute of just under 3 miles each way – not so bad it you can drive, but I would have to walk or ski most everyday.  Keep in mind that there are no roads, so I had to set out over the tundra in the dark.  At least a couple of days a week the snow and wind would be so intense, that you couldn’t see where you were going.  On a good day, I could ski the crossing in about 15 minutes, but once I got caught up in ground blizzard and it took me over 2 hours to find my way. From that point on, I carried a compass with me. [read on]