‘Where are you going?’ and ‘What are you going to do there?’ seem to be the two biggest questions people ask me after I tell them that I am headed to Alaska.
Where am I going?
I am headed to Kivalina, a small island village that is north of the arctic circle and off the far western coast of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, it has a population of 374 and as of the 2017-2018 school year there are about 141 students.
Indoor plumbing is not a widespread amenity and water intake is limited during the winter months. It is a community that is almost 100% Inupiaq and has a subsistence-based lifestyle, meaning that they live off of the land around them. Some of these practices include hunting different animals based on migratory patterns. In the spring, I may be lucky to witness ice fishing for tom-cod & crab, winter caribou hunting, and whaling (bowhead whale). There is a post office, public school, convenience store, air strip, and a christian church (from what I was able to find online). It is also a dry village, meaning that it is a felony to possess/buy/consume alcohol in the village.
Kivalina is an island in the sense that it is not connected to mainland Alaska by land, but it is also incredibly close to the mainland. The island itself is about 7 miles long, but only one area is highly inhabited at the moment.
I think it is easier to understand the location by looking at a full scale map.
Kivalina is a ‘bush village’. Living in the bush in Alaska means that it is a more remote location and off of the ‘road system’. Yes, you guessed it…you can’t get to Kivalina by a road!
I will be traveling to my new home by plane, with a few layovers as I make my way west. Then on the day I get into Kivalina, I will arrive on a small bush plane! I won’t need a car and I’ll be living in walking distance from work, so I likely will not need to buy a snowmobile or ATV to get around.
What are you going to do there?
I am excited that I will be re-entering the elementary classroom scene as a third grade teacher! I’ve spent the last year or so subbing for multiple age groups and working at a university. I can’t wait to have my own classroom in one of my favorite academic levels!
We go on summer break in midMay and so I will be back to the lower 48 in time for my parents’ wedding anniversary and my sisters’ graduation from college with their Bachelor’s in Nursing!
For more information:
Grocery shopping on a remote island where there isn’t a grocery store.
Packing and shipping stuff so that I can be an adult when I arrive.
The actual journey.
Disclaimer: I may have misspoke on a lot of things because I have not yet been to Alaska or Kivalina. This was all information that I found online and through conversations with educators in the area. I’ll be able to validate these claims soon and hopefully I’ll be able to use proper terminology in a respectful/appropriate manner as I learn.