Although the purpose of this blog is really to inform and connect women in the empty-nester years, today I want to share a little about my crazy life so you can get to know me.
I am writing this while sitting in an empty classroom in a Cup’ig village school on Nunivak Island. Nunivak Island is on the western coast of Alaska. In my job at the school district, I often visit one of the 22 villages that are fly- or boat-in (in summer) only. There are no roads connecting the villages, except when the river freezes and people create an “ice road” to the few villages that are close to Bethel.
Everything is dependent upon the weather. [The people who live here (about 200) haven’t had mail in more than two weeks.]
This was just supposed to be a day trip – fly in in the morning, out in the evening. We came in Tuesday morning – and here we sit.
Today at noon a plane finally came, but decided not to land (it looked clear to us, but they said the cloud ceiling was too low). So, after putting on all of our gear:
and waiting on the “tarmac” (a gravel air strip), back to the school we went. We are hoping for an evening flight, but it’s not looking promising. This is the plane we fly in:
It’s a nine-seater Cessna 208B. Often they send 7-seaters, which are not my favorite. I’ve always been someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy flying, but that has changed since it’s become so much a part of my life. I just put a pair of these and go to my happy place, until I feel both wheels landing safely on the ground.
A colleague and I were out here to look at their language program. Cugtun (the local language) is close to extinction, and we are working on ways to revitalize it so it is not lost. The main language for the majority of the school district is Yugtun, but the people on this island are Cup’ig and their language is different. Yugtun is still widely spoken, although each year we see more kindergarteners coming in stronger in English.
My job is very unique with the educational challenges out here [more on the Yup’ik people and culture in another post!]. I love learning about the Alaskan Native culture, and helping in the effort to revitalize the indigenous language. But the isolation and dependency on the weather can be frustrating.
Could you live and work in an isolated area completely dependent upon the weather?