Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Newtok, AK

The past few weeks have been busy busy busy!

LKSD was awesome enough to buy some days for Apple to come out and train students and teachers on how to use some of those Apple programs.

A couple of weeks ago Tony (a.k.a Apple Tony) met Lee and I in Bethel and we quickly departed to Newtok, AK. This was my second visit to Newtok and I had just as much fun as my first visit there. Upon arrival in Newtok we were immediately put to work and we spent the entire time teaching students and teachers how to use iMovie, Keynote and other Apple Apps as well. I really like Newtok...the teachers are great there and the students are great there too.

One of the teachers in Newtok also had his kids working on a really fun project. Their task was to dismantle a dead copy machine and to create a toy. The class was totally into the project and the room was entirely destroyed. There were little pieces EVERYWHERE and all day long you could hear the kids pounding away on the copy machine! It was so fun. When I went in there to take pictures some of the kids didn't even notice I was in there.

Here are the pics from Newtok!

Apple Tony going over Keynote!

Look how excited the kids are! And they're working together!

The Repair Shop! I love this quote!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nayagaq Goes to NYO and Flies a Kite

I just lived through a really busy weekend. I was so busy this weekend that I felt entirely exhausted as I crawled into bed on Sunday night. I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow and I awoke with a start some time later. I felt I had been sleeping for hours and hours and hours and when I got up to check the time I was surprised to learn that I had been sleeping for only about an hour! What a glorious feeling to realize I could lay my head back down on the pillow and have seven more hours of sleep before I had to get up and get back to work.

This weekend was so awesome. I traveled to Kongiganak to work with some teachers there. I had a great time in Kong...the staff was great, the students were great and I was busy the entire time. The school was all a flurry on Friday due to the NYO meet that was happening there.

If you've been keeping up with my blog over the last few years you will know not only how much I adore the Oscarville students but also how much I love NYO. Over the years I have made some really really great friends through NYO and it was so great to see them all again.

Many of you may not know this but I received an official Yup'ik name last year. It took three years but I finally got one. My lack of a Yup'ik name would become a talking point every once in awhile but after a day or two the thinking of what my Yup'ik name would be other more pressing issues would demand more immediate attention and I would continue to go nameless. One morning, while we were doing our morning meeting, I was watching one little girl at the table. This little girl and I had much in common as she was the little sister of only brothers. I leaned over and asked Olga if there was a Yup'ik word for little sister of only brothers. She leaned over to tell me then immediately got excited, "Nayagaq! Nayagaq! That's what we'll call you. It means little sister of only brothers!" (For those of you who don't know, I have three older brothers and am definitely the little matter how old I am.) She then proceeded to announce my new Yup'ik name to everyone there. The only problem is that since I had gone without a name for so long I kept forgetting what my name was. I kept having to ask Olga or one of the other ladies. They would patiently remind me and spell it for me.

Earlier this year I received an email from my good friend Jimmie Tulik in Nightmute. In this email he asked what my Yup'ik name was and I we had to exchange a few emails before he could figure out what I was talking about. Since then, Jimmie only refers to me by my Yup'ik name and I'm finding others, especially Yup'ik folks in the village, are using my Yup'ik name more and more. When I go to schools I tell students they can either call me Erin or Nayagaq. I'm getting used to responding to either.

Anyway, that whole long explanation about my Yup'ik name was so everyone could make sense of the title of this post. I went to an awesome, awesome NYO meet. The kids were great, they performed well and as always, amazed me with their skills and abilitites. The coaches, who are mainly Yup'ik men from the villages, spent quite a bit of time teasing me. However, it felt so good to be sitting around with a bunch of them on Friday night eating dry fish and a mixed veggies from one of those premade veggie trays from the grocery store.

Macy and I left Kong on Saturday and the rest of the weekend was an intense flurry of activity. It was absolutely beautiful out and I quickly showered (I always feel gross after sleeping on the floor of a school) and packed up my knitting stuff and rushed to the library where I joined some ladies for a little knitting circle. It was my first time in a long time making it to the knitting group and it was fun. I felt I had enough support and wisdom around me to start a HUGE project that I've been putting off for some time now.

After knitting I went for a run but had kind of a bad run. It wasn't totally bad, I just didn't feel it on Saturday. I had better runs on Sunday and Monday. After running I went to a nice little dinner party with some friends and ended by day by falling into bed completely exhausted.

Sunday was another busy day. I woke up and biked over to a friend's house for a small little brunch get together. I was biking home after brunch when my phone rang and I pulled off to the side of the road to answer it. I was so stoked to hear a fromer student's voice on the other end telling me he was in Bethel and asking if he could come visit. I biked home and shortly after met Patrick and his little brother Jeffery at my house. The three of us sat around for a bit when suddenly I had a great idea! We'd go fly the new kite I bought the day before at a rummage sale.

I called a couple of other friends to see if they wanted to come fly a kite with us and soon we were all down by the water watching the kite soar higher and higher. A great time was had by all. One of my friends got some picures of kite flying and I hope she shares them with me so I can post them.

I had a great weekend. It was super fun and I loved spending so much time with such awesome people. This week my coworker, Lee, and I are going to be traveling with a trainer from Apple and going to Newtok and Mekoryuk with an overnight is Toksook Bay! I look forward to seeing and meeting even more friends. I have my camera back so the next post should be nicer to look at! lol

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


First things first, I lost my camera. I know where it's just not at a location I'm usually at and I need to get on my bike and go over there and get it. To say I misplaced it or left it at a friend's house is not dramatic enough. I want to make my blog readers feel sympathy for me and my "lost" camera. Anyway, there is going to be a huge lack of photos on this post. I'm working on a really cool video that I'm hoping to post soon....ohhhh...just you wait and see!

Anyway, there has been lots of traveling to villages happening for this little lady. I took a few days off due to a cold. I then got antsy to get traveling and went down to the beautiful village of Quinhagak where my cold promptly came rushing back and lasted well into the next week. I don't think it was Quinhagak's fault...I probably should have taken more time off before I traveled. Sleeping on a school floor doesn't always promote the best health.

I had a pretty great weekend after traveling to Quinhagak. I did a day trip to Nightmute and worked with some really rad teachers there. Some of the Yup'ik teachers in Nightmute are really working to interview and collect oral histories from the elders in the village. They are also doing many other projects with technology in their classes and are eager learners. Even though it's a long flight I was happy to go down there just for a few hours to work with the Yup'ik teachers. I also saw my first snowfall in Nightmute while I was there. Then it turned to rain. While I was in Nightmute I really started to not feel well. My good friend Jimmie Tulik stayed with me until the airline called and said that plane was landing in a few minutes. I got my 4 wheeler ride to the airport and was heading home in no time.

I was scheduled to go down to Oscarville last Wednesday and decided to go by boat. This fall has been really weird and although it's mid October it's still super warm up here...upper 40s or low 50s. I convinced one of the guys from the technology department to ride down with me and we had a fantastic ride down river. Although the temps have been warm the hours of darkness have been creeping up on us. I went for a run this evening and had my headlamp on the entire time. It's funny how in the darkness things look so different and sometimes even scary. I usually run along the river bank and take a back road up to the main highway. However, this evening as I was running I started to turn right to head down my normal route and in the dark it looked so much scarier. I started to imagine scary people lurking in the bushes and all that and turned around and went the other way. In all honesty though, I really think I was smart to not go down the dark pathway. There are some shady characters in Bethel and when intoxicated they aren't afraid to let you know how they feel. It's also odd how much I've gotten used to such people. The other day I was biking home from the store in broad daylight and as I was walking out of the store I was saying hello to everyone and smiling at them as they walked past. One man was approaching me as he headed into the store and I could tell even from a distance he was intoxicated. Every few steps he would erupt in giggles, he'd take a few more steps and then giggle again. As I passed him I said hello. He took a few more steps and as I walked away I heard him say "F- YOU!". Now, the smart thing for me to do would have been to keep walking but perhaps it was all my years of teaching, perhaps I felt a bit miffed that I was nice to him and he wasn't nice back, whatever caused me to do so, I turned around and yelled back, "That wasn't very nice AT ALL! You don't have to be mean!" then got on my purple bike and rode away. Super tough, huh?

I'm in Kongiganak right now and was asked by Chris, the Site Administrator in Oscarville if I would be willing to stay an extra night and chaperone the kids. There is an NYO tournament happening here this weekend and I just super giddy waiting for it to start. There is tremendous engery in the school right now and everyone is super pumped for the other schools to arrive. It's only a matter of time! I've asked Christina to send an extra camera so I can take pictures.