December 16, 2004

21. Before Winter Break.

I took these last few around 3pm. Below is the edge of the river near school. All fall it has been cracking and refreezing with the ebb and flow of the tides. It's pretty much solid now. Thoughts about these sorts of things- like the interplay of tidal and seasonal forces- have been consuming me less lately as I've been thinking more about visiting home. I leave for Philadelphia tomorrow.

MOVIE CLIP 1, Blizzard on Election Day: [.mov for Mac] or [.avi for PC]
MOVIE CLIP 2, Blizzard from House: [.mov for Mac] or [.avi for PC]

December 13, 2004

20. Tundra Technology.

Here's an Elder giving a talk to the middle and high school. His words are being understood in three different languages simultaneously.
Most of the students are hearing him speak in Yupik. Sophie translates in to English so that the American Sign Language interpreter (via satellite in Seattle),

can translate it back to the village in sign. It's unusual that the teachers get to hear English translations when an Elder speaks, so we were trying to take advantage of the opportunity by huddling around Sophie as she softly repeated his words in English into the microphone. Video conferencing is used for a lot of things in the school.

In one class, there is a math class occurring on one satellite unit (see LA Times story), while another unit is used for translating what is being taught in the first. A few weeks ago, we were supposed to have another staff development day in Bethel. All the new teachers in the district were again supposed to be flown in from their villages, but as nature frequently has it here, flights were grounded due to fog. Instead of canceling or rescheduling it, we were delivered the staff development via videoconference.

There is currently a night school pilot's license class being offered every Wednesday night. I'm sitting in on it and hoping to pass the ground school test in May. The satellite communication company (gci) that handles the videoconferencing also handles internet communications. All the lap tops are connected wirelessly.

Another multi-million contract was signed for the next three years with GCI last week. We looked at a number of bid proposals, including AT&T. Cost and dependability were some of the biggest factors. I volunteered to be a teacher rep. for the tech committee, so I got to be part of that decision. Wireless communication is essential. A number of rural school districts in Alaska still don't have videoconferencing, but it's becoming a staple.

December 08, 2004

19. Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving at the Moravian Church. Everyone was invited.
Ryan Kuehlthar is my partner in crime who teaches on the other side of the room divider from me. He's also my guest photographer for this entry.

I realized I forgot my camera after I had already run back once to get my plate, fork and cup... so Ryan said I could use his pics. I was getting a little tired of putting the camera to my face as much as I had been anyway, which partially explains why it's been a while since I've posted. The community Thanksgiving feast was held at the Moravian Church just across the lake from my house. A good population of the village was there; almost everyone is starting to look familiar. The food was great... it was a giant potluck of Eskimo delight. Food was placed on tables set up the entire length of the center isle. Other than the macaroni and Jell-O, almost all of it was different from what I'd typically see at a potluck back home.

I honestly liked everything I tried. Here, Tom is using a sled to tow food he and Cynthia brought to the gathering. In the middle is Katie, Ryan's wife. Notice the old truck in the brush... Sunken about a third of the way in the mud, it's the only "road" vehicle in the village. In Alaska, the bigger rivers that connect villages become state highways when they freeze. Someone must have left it there a little too long into the spring a few decades back. It looks like a classic, if not antique.


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