Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Village

We started the new school year on August 17 in a new village, new colleagues, and in a new culture in many ways. We are away from the big water of the Bering sea or even the bay that we looked out on for all those years in Toksook. We have a silt-laden river that flows by the village here and empties a mile and a half down stream into the Kuskokwim, where it begins to widen out into its mouth and Kuskokwim Bay. It is slow and heavily laden with silt here though fishing is apparently pretty good with salmon (all finished for the year now), pike, and shee fish (a white fish that is similar in taste to halibut by various accounts). Not much fishing though unless you have a boat and gill net because the river is so muddy. Jigging in winter is good though.

The village is quite spread out and it is a good walk from the house to the post office or to any of the three stores here in town. The airport is about a mile away and the only way to get around without getting your feet wet is on the boardwalks which are sturdily built and will accomodate ATV's quite adequately. Still though, there seems to be much subsidance as the delta we are sitting in shifts position and flows at its own glacial pace but determinedly toward the ocean. in some places the water in the ponds and sloughs lap at the edges of the boardwalks as they way to be shored up or risen away from the water.

The people here are very nice, most of them having lived here for all their lives and stretching back into generations. The population seems stable and the enrollment at the school is on the rise. There is a very high birthrate in this part of Alaska and so education is a growth industry. I am teaching high school science and math (which I share with a more qualified colleague in Bethel through the video conference network the district has to accomodate the woeful dearth of qualified math teachers in this part ofthe country. For some reason they aren't falling over themselves to come to rural Alaska to teach in villages that may or may not have flushing toilets and running water. -strange but true! My students are cooperative, motivated, and polite for the most part. I hope I have started off on the right foot providing them with expectations rather than rules to follow. It feels right for now.

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