Tag Archives: Sarah

Sarah at the Saturday Market

Early on a Saturday morning, craftsmen and artists set up their tables in the Bethel Cultural Center. Traditional ulus, handmade jewelry, and beautiful wood carvings are laid out in a gorgeous array. Browsers stop to chat with vendors about the goods that are displayed. One of those vendors is a woman named Sarah.

Sarah sits at a corner table, threading beads onto a wire that will eventually become a pair of earrings. Her young nephew sits beside her, also hard at work threading beads.

“I’m teaching him so he can sell his own one day. He’s working hard so he can get an iPod,” she says with a smile.

In front of her, Sarah has a table full of colorful jewelry, as well as some wooden and ivory pieces off to the side. This day, she is looking after two sets of merchandise. Her friend is the one who creates the necklaces and bracelets made of vibrant stones. Sarah specializes in walrus ivory and wood.

The Saturday market is not just a fun activity, it is an important part of life in Bethel. Many people, such as Sarah, rely on the market as a second source of income. Prices of everything are sky high in Bethel, and hunting can only stretch limited budgets so far. The craftsmanship of the vendors has been passed down from generation to generation.  In order to balance out those costs, many families participate in the market for at least part of the year. Sometimes though, the extra money still doesn’t cover it.

“People can come here and trade for the things that they need,” Sarah says. Even if a person is running low on money, they can count on the Saturday market to supply at least a few of their needs. Although the markets were only started in 2005, the long tradition of trade and community support continues to flourish here.

By scanning around the market, one can see the great diversity of both the people and the products. Elders sit behind tables of traditional Yup’ik dress, while young girls are knitting their own variation of the latest trendy hat. Despite the differences, everyone is conversing. Both instructional and lighthearted conversations fill the air.

“I like coming here,” Sarah reflects. She takes a brief pause to correct her nephew’s beading technique. “It’s good to be here where I can talk to family and friends. We help each other out. I like coming here.”

See our video of Sarah at the Saturday Market here.

Story by Morgan Ryan and Hannah Mullally

Five Farewell Thoughts

Today we spend our last day in Bethel, interviewing a few more people and enjoying the town that has touched us over the last 10 days.

I found this quote a Pinterest a few months ago, and I can’t find to whom to attribute it. I find it very appropriate for this trip. It goes,”You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

I know Bethel will always be a part of my story, just as much as I hope we have become a part of its.

As I say so-long and farewell to Bethel, I reflect on the top five things I’ll miss the most:

1. The individual people who have been so open and welcoming to our group:
Every time we meet a new person, whether it’s for an interview or just to get a taste of the Yup’ik culture, I am shocked by how open and willing that person is to tell us his or her story. We’re a big group, almost a force, and most often we have lots of questions about the culture. Every question, no matter how long it takes, is answered well. I am so grateful to have met people like Cecilia, Tad, Sarah, and Stan (the barber in town who took all of us out to his fish camp). They have made this trip so wonderful and so incredible.

2. Experiencing “real journalism”:
I was excited to participate in “real journalism” from the beginning. I had the chance to be the interviewer, take notes and listen for good quotes in other interviews, try my best to shoot b-roll and even cover or take notes during a town-hall style meeting. I’ll miss having interviews to go to, but hopefully one day I’ll be interviewing people every day.

3. Trying new things:
This is probably the only time in my life I’ll be in Alaska, so I tried to say “yes” to every opportunity I had. I said “yes” to eating lots of salmon, reindeer and moose. I said “yes” to going to a fish camp and just going fishing. I said “yes” to kayaking (and regretted it a little). I said “yes” to exploring the town with my peers at 10:30 p.m. because it looked like it was 3 p.m. outside. Saying “yes” with almost no regrets was a great feeling.

4. Disconnecting myself from the outside world:
I loved not having cell phone service up here. It’s going to be so sad when we travel to Seward tomorrow and our phones will work again. I don’t text a lot on my phone anyway, but it’s been great to take a breather from social media, except to post my blogs on Facebook and Twitter. I will miss taking a break from one world to be completely present in the current one, something I’ve done on this trip.

5. My crazy and amazingly wonderful peers and professors who have shared this experience with me:
This group, gosh, where do I even begin? Even though 20 is a big group, every member has gotten to know every member fairly well. Each of us has put our all into this project, and I can’t wait to see what our final product will look like. I’m going to miss seeing all 19 of my group members every day, all day. I’m going to miss our games of B.S., Bananagrams and Mafia. I’m going to miss sharing two queen sized mattresses with four other girls and sharing one bathroom with everyone. I’m going to miss the laughs, the tears and the serious moments. I might even miss Mari calling me “Baby Madz.”

The girls of this fantastic group, having fun on one of our late night walks. Photo Courtesy of Kari Welniak.
The girls of this fantastic group, having fun on one of our late night walks. Photo Courtesy of Kari Welniak.

So to my peers and to Bethel, thank you. For every moment.