If you asked me five weeks ago what I would be doing in Alaska I would have simply just replied, “We’re filming a documentary!” But thats not just it. Now I would say I had the chance to tell a story. A story about the people of Bethel. A story about subsistence. A story about spirituality.
Not only did I have the chance to tell a story and give people a voice, but I had to the chance to find my own voice. Even during these last two weeks of editing, I’ve found myself not afraid to speak up about issues that I care about. I think going outside the boundaries of your own comfort zone really forces you to look at yourself and ask, “Who am I and who do I want to be?”
A lot of the experiences I had in Bethel really solidified what I want to do with my life. For our small video project, I had the privilege to work with Stephanie Tedesco (also my plane buddy) and film Stanley Corp, the Bethel barber. At first I thought we would get some basic footage about what its like to be a barber. We got more than that. Stan gave us advice that will stick with me forever. He talked about how he likes people and getting to know people on an individual basis. At the end his one piece advice touched on jealousy and how its important not to hold grudges, be jealous, or dwell on the past. Its amazing how much a a simple man could give advice that applies to all aspects of someones life.
At the end of our interview, Stan pulled me aside and we talked about dentistry in Bethel. He stressed to me how important it is they need Dental care and someone to take care of these people in the villages. The day before while Stephanie and I were filming Stan’s barber shop, I stopped by the dental clinic and peered in through the window. Apparently, the dental clinic was opening in a month and the dentist had just come into town a month ago. It was great seeing the progress being made!
Just knowing that its important for people to have access to healthcare and dental care really affirmed my decision and life goal to become a dentist. Knowing that I would be able to make a difference and change someones life just by working with my hands and having that ability to provide dental care gets me really excited just thinking about it. I’m also excited just to be able to treat people individually and get to know their life stories, just like Stan gets to know every single one of his customers. I know I have a ways to go to get there (2 more years of undergrad, apply, get in, etc. etc.), but Alaska and speaking with Stan really motivated me to conquer this goal of mine. I don’t know if I will ever move up to Alaska, but someday I would love to go back someday and thank everyone that helped me with this decision.