Guess what? Today… WE SAW THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!! This was a very rare event that everyone on the trip was hoping to see since the first day we landed in Alaska, and we did. When we got the phone call from a local native about the Northern Lights being visible outside, everyone ran out of the bunkhouse screaming like crazy and we were able to witness beautiful colors dancing in the sky. It was an incredible sight! Of course, as amazing as it was, it still doesn’t overshadow the rest of this day. Even though it was only our second day in the school, all of us were excited over how well we each connected with the students already. Komal was even able to initiate communication with a girl diagnosed with “selective mute,” a condition that prevented her from talking with strangers. Also, it was a much easier transition for us too since we were finally getting used to the school and its faculty. Some of us even had some deep conversations with the principal, while others attended a Tlingit class and learned a Tlingit song and dance alongside the students. And since the band class played without percussion, three of us went over and practiced playing the remaining instruments. Overall, the situation was a lot less awkward than it was the first day and everyone was able to enjoy themselves around the students.
After school, we all went to a workshop near the school and saw some carvers at work. They showed us a large 30 x 16 foot screen that they had made, and it was not only amazing to see how beautiful and precise the art was, but also to hear the meaning and cultural representation behind each little portrait on the screen. One of the carvers, Gordon, even shared his story with us. He was one of the few Alaskans that studied and graduated college in the “lower 48,” but still came back to his homeland in order to preserve his culture and pursue his passion of carving wood. This showed us just how much Alaskans value their current lifestyle and how closely connected they are with their culture. After that, we all went to a Tlingit language class at the senior center, where several of us learned important life lessons through the stories of the elders. Then finally, the day had its perfect ending with the Northern Lights. Most of us would probably say that this was the best and most exciting day by far, and we can’t wait to see what’ll come next!!
~ by Nikole Tetreault and Ashwin Aravindan