Friday, March 27, 2009

Point Hope Basketball Tournament

There is no doubt that basketball is a way of life up here. I've seen four year olds making three pointers, watched middle schoolers rocket up and down the court, and high schoolers that could really show up some of the top college players. These kids live, eat, and breathe to play ball. I was lucky enough to take a couple of days off of school to take my students to the middle school basketball tournament in Point Hope. This was my first opportunity to see another village and also to take in the true experience of traveling with students in the Arctic.

It's not like you can just take a bus to get where you are going. It all starts with a chartered flight from our village of Atqasuk. The district booked us a flight on a 19 seater plane that took us to Point Hope, with a flight time of about an hour and a half. These kids could hardly sit still, they were so excited.

When we arrived there, it wasn't too much different from our own village. It is much bigger, but you still have the disadvantages of living in the village. We were able to visit a store and all the players just loved it. We've definitely helped to stimulate the economy of Point Hope.

Another benefit of traveling with the school is the comfortable classrooms that become your homes over the next few days. Luckily, we were able to get a classroom with a couch and that makes all the difference.

Both the boy's and girl's team played really hard, but being made up of mostly younger kids, they were defeated in both of the first games. Today they will play their second game each in the losing bracket. Hopefully, we can still board the plane tomorrow to head home.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The difference between Alaskans and everybody else

Has anybody ever watched the show "Airline?" The show focuses on Southwest Airlines and always features people pitching complete fits whenever their flights are cancelled. People in the lower 48 always have to run on a tight schedule. When one thing falls through, everybody instantly gets angry and starts blaming the nearest person they can sink their teeth into.

I came to a realization the other night. Alaska changes you. I was supposed to fly out to Fairbanks for my final class this weekend, but Barrow and Fairbanks got absolutely dumped on. There was a huge blizzard with tremendous wind. There were four flights cancelled this weekend. That's two whole days of flying. Instead of people immediately flying off the handle at not being able to fly out, everyone in the airport stood around and joked about it. It was amazing and I was right there with them. I would have been one of those people freaking out about something I couldn't control, but now, there's no point. You learn to just roll with the punches, not matter how uncomfortable they may be.

It was unfortunate that I had to stay in Barrow the whole weekend. I ended up spending nearly $500 on hotels and having to eat out, not to mention being sick as a dog all weekend. I look on the bright side though. I get to go grocery shopping for the first time in a month!

I'm just thinking back at the last seven months here and can't believe the adventure I've had. I'm just so thankful for everything that I have and can do. This is a place where hardly anyone would dream of visiting, not to mention living here. It's been such an incredible adventure so far and it's something that will change me for the better.