Wales Tales: Part Two
If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then you can imagine all the stories that go with the 2,000 PLUS photos I took during my week in Wales, Alaska. It's been a challenge to "unpack" from the trip-- in the sense that I see something different each time I revisit the photos, which has made writing about the trip nearly impossible. But before I forget any more little details, here's a glimpse at more from the edge of Alaska-- where you really can see Russia from your house.
"When we take our spelling test," Ms. Fernstrom says, "we have to be very quiet."
"Just like when we're in the Bingo Hall!" Naomi quips.
Luther stops by the school, carrying his red backpack. He pulls out a manila envelope from the 60's. He shares tales of a school principal-- a "white guy from Utah" -- who revived whaling in the village. We read countless letters from state and federal agencies telling Mr. Christensen to cease and desist. Finally, one says: continue with your plans, but don't tell anyone.
Parent-teacher conferences roll around while I'm visiting. While some teachers stay at the school and wait for the parents to come to them, Bethany Fernstom visits her 1st & 2nd grader's parents at home. Many have bad memories of their own school days, and Fernstrom has found the home-visits to be much more beneficial. She spoke with all of her students' parents, while those who waited at the school have roughly a 50% success rate.
The only running water in the village is in the school and teacher-housing. Residents take showers and wash their clothes at the Washeteria. There are no driers though-- they must haul their clothes back home to dry.
Every Friday at school is "Qaspeq Friday". Ms. Fernstrom is reviving the art of the Qaspeq in the village, by holding community sewing with elders and students.
It was a week without cell coverage, radio, TV, and very infrequent internet. It was a week full of amazing people, stories, and landscapes that most people in the modern world will never experience. Thank you to all the gracious people who made it a week to remember!