I want to start with my New Teacher Training in Bethel (where the district office is). I have to say I was amazed at how organized and put together the training was. I learned so much and met so many great people. Including my new roommate, Ashley, and her dog, Misty. There are 56 new teachers to the Lower Kuskokwim School District this year and surprisingly several of them were from Ohio (so cool!).
We had two days of training. The first day we learned a lot about the Yup'ik culture and what life would be like in the villages. One of the first things we did was learn a traditional Yup'ik dance called the Yuraq. There is a song and then there is someone keeping time on a drum. I don't remember the words but the dance was a lot of fun and we did it several times during the training. I actually volunteered to do the dance in front of everyone! Here is a picture of me doing the Yuraq (I'm in the pink shirt).
We learned a lot about subsistence. This is very important to the Yup'ik culture. It is the harvest and processing of wild resources for food, raw materials, and other traditional uses. Some of the popular subsistence activities are berry picking, hunting, and fishing. We also learned about other aspects of the culture like family structures and village events. A few of the things that are important in the village are feasts and steams. A steam is kind of like a Yup'ik style sauna. The simplified version is you go inside the steam house, pour water over hot rocks, and steam!
One of the coolest parts of the training is when we learned to cut salmon. I mean how many teachers can say they learned fish cutting at a training? They taught us about the different seasons and which fish or game are typical during that season. Right now the Silver Salmons are running.
One of the biggest things we learned on day one was nonverbal communication. A lot of the people in the villages use nonverbal communication. So they had to prepare us so we know what to look out for. One of the biggest ones is instead of saying "Yes" to answer a question, they will just raise their eyebrows quickly. It took me a few days to get the hang of it, but I'm starting to catch on.
Day two was a little more like your standard teacher training. We learned about the Alaska State standards, curriculum, and framework. They also showed us several resources that are available to us like Power School (where I input grades and attendance) and Atlas Rubicon (where we can search curriculum maps and calendars that other teachers in the district have used).
Lunch was a lot of fun on day two as well. We had a lunch featuring native cuisine. Fish head soup, baked salmon, dried smoked salmon, salmon strips, dried smelt with seal oil, tundra tea, and akutaq (ah-goo-duk) also known as Eskimo ice cream. There were many other things we got to try and I can proudly say I tried a little bit of everything!
Once training was finished and everything was sorted out in Bethel, we packed up and headed to Eek. And I could NOT wait to finally get there! I got to ride co-pilot!
I will update again in the next day or so and fill you in on my arrival in Eek!