This past week was Inupiaq Days at Shishmaref School. We suspended our normal academic classes and taught traditional food preparation, arts, and dancing. Now, you may assume that as a white girl from Idaho I had little to offer Inupiaq Days, but you’d be WRONG. I was very involved thanks to the following saga:
Life in Shishmaref includes an endless stream of fundraising. Shishmaref School pretty much has a monopoly on anything we decide to sell (no Wal-Mart, no McDonald’s, no Dollar Store, no Seven-Eleven, no competition…). This works out well for school organizations that want to earn money.
Because we’re so isolated, kids don’t often have a chance to go on typical field trips. Luckily, our principal is pretty good about arranging for groups and organizations to come to the school. We had one of those “Reverse Field Trips” today.
The Anchorage Imaginarium brought an assortment of reptiles. Steve and I were placing bets on how many cold-blooded animals would die on their way up here, but they all survived (fortunate for the reptiles but unfortunate for Steve and I who both wagered otherwise*…). I guess the cages have heaters in them (that seems like cheating).
When I volunteered to be the Cross Country Ski Coach, I knew I was volunteering to face several scary experiences. Among them:
- having to teach a sport I had never participated in and know nothing about, thus setting myself up for major embarrassment and ridicule
- being responsible to keep kids from getting frostbite in -30 weather.
- keeping watch to ensure that none of my skiers are eaten by polar bears (this is a legitimate danger in Shishmaref; during our long practices outside of the immediate village we have to be accompanied by armed escorts)