Saturday, August 16, 2008
First Week in Barrow
Last week we stayed in Barrow for new hire inservice. Beyond the draining experience of sitting in classroom for nine hours a day, it gave us all some time to bond as a staff. We did partake in some interesting activities, such as walking four miles along the beach frequented by polar bears to go buy soda at the only store in town, as well as taking a dip into the Arctic Ocean for the Polar Bear Plunge (we got a certificate!). It was quite an adventure and made me realize that these are the people that are going to make or break the year. Atqasuk seemed to make a name for ourselves at the inservice, as we were the youngest group there. We coined ourselves as "the fun village," while others thought we were just loud.
On this page you will find some pictures of our discoveries on the beach. We found really interesting creatures in the ocean, jellyfish, a weird purple thing we decided to name "The Amazing Technicolor Sea Corndog," Also, a few pictures of the plunge. It was cold, but not that unlike swimming in a bigger, saltier Lake Superior. Not nearly as cold as I expected.
In addition to a water fun, we also had the opportunity to attend the Youth and Elder's Conference put on by the Inupiat people. This conference is something they do every year to discuss issues facing their culture. A lot had to do with education. You'll see a picture of three people on my staff, my roommate Jennifer, Chris, and Janey, all wearing headsets. Part of the conference was delivered in Inupiat and we wore these to hear it in English.
Along with the conference, the Inupiats held a potluck to welcome the new teachers. They served traditional foods, such as caribou, bearded seal, bowhead whale (both cooked and fermented, called "maktak"), and various other dishes. Yes, I did try the fermented whale and seal, and it's definitely an acquired taste. The whale was chewy and mushy at the same time. Not truly my style, but a good experience all the same.