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August 10th, 2011

It's 4:00 on Wednesday afternoon and I just finished my first day of New Teacher Training in Unalakleet, AK. The BSSD flew us here on their district plane yesterday and we flew the whole coastline of the St. Lawrence Island at 100 ft before gaining elevation to fly over the Bering Sea. It was incredible! Unfortunately, B had to stay home during this training, but I can't wait to show him all of the pictures. Hopefully he'll take that route to one of his cross country meets!

This is where Flying Wild Alaska is filmed and although, unfortunately, I'm not too familiar with it, several of the new teachers are so I managed to gather some insight from them! We apparently walked by the Tweto family's home, (sorry fans, I didn't take pictures because I hadn't yet realized who the Tweto's were!) However, I did see some photographic proof that Ferno was, in fact, unloading some of the new teacher's luggage at the Unalakleet airport!

Unalakleet is a really nice village and is much smaller than I expected. I'm not sure how the population compares with Savoonga's, but it is less remote and a little more modernized. There are paved roads, several vehicles, a pizza place and a pool hall. There is also a fish cannery, which some people are touring tonight. We saw some locals bring in fresh silver salmon and they taught us how they prepare them. Everyone I've met has been extremely welcoming and eager to talk about their fishing livelihood.

We visited the AC (the village store) and I scoped out some prices. I haven't been to the store in Savoonga yet (but B might have checked it out by now,) so I don't have anything to compare it to, but here are some examples:

Loaf of bread: $6

Canister of Quaker Oats: $11

Bag of frozen veggies: $4-6

Bag of chips: $6

Cereal: $7

They did have a small fresh produce selection, so I'll be filling up the cooler that I brought before I leave on Friday! We are signing up for Full Circle Farms, which is an organic farm out of Seattle that delivers fresh produce to several of the rural villages in bush Alaska. They deliver once a week, which is as often as we can get it, but we will probably start off getting a box every other week and seeing how long it lasts. It's $68 a box, which includes the actual transportation of the veggies, so in the grand scheme of things, and taking into consideration the amount of veggies B and I consume, I think it will be well worth it. The residents who lived in our house before us left a hydroponic plant system in our boiler room, so we may be adventurous and plant some veggies of our own. That's a pretty big project though and I'm sure won't happen for a few months :o)

Our training has been really interesting so far and even though a ton of information is being thrown at us, I'm really learning a lot. We are implementing a new curriculum this year and I'll be working hand in hand with the Social Studies department. We'll be doing something called Character Based Literacy, and we will be covering the same time periods as the semester progresses. The curriculum gives the students multiple ways to show understanding, and it seems to differentiate really well. I'm pretty excited to be at the beginning stages of it and to try it out in class in a few weeks!

Although I feel completely out of my element in this whole Alaskan adventure, and can't believe we are actually here, I feel simultaneously 100% accepted, supported and at home. It's been a great experience so far and I hope for it to continue to be positive. I think we've already overcome a lot, and I also think the hard stuff (tough kids and winter) is still coming. We're as prepared as we can be and are up for the challenge.

B's in Savoonga now, making preparations to begin his cross country season. He's going to be such an awesome coach, I can't wait to see how the kids respond to him! He's already been great with the kids who knock on our door asking to come in and to play, and he's used the interactions wisely and done some XC recruiting! I'm really looking forward to getting back to the island on Friday and catching up on all he's been up to in our new home!

Thanks again for all of the love and support you've been sending our way. There's currently a cell coverage outage in Savoonga, so apologies to those who have tried to call or text--we haven't been ignoring you!! We will keep everyone posted! :o)

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