Tag Archives: boardwalk

A potluck of personalities.

A potluck of personalities.

Last night we had the privilege of having a potluck hosted by the Catholic Church. Church member were very generous and brought us all kind of native foods that I’ve never even heard of or tried before! There’s always a first for everything! Some of the foods featured at our potluck that I sampled personally were seal soup, moose stew (one of my favorites), fish chowder with white fish and salmon, hering fish eggs dipped in olive oil (very interesting texture I’d say), caribou stew, moose stir fry, and salmon every possible way you can imagine. I decided not to be apprehensive about trying the new dishes because how many people can say they’ve eaten seal meat? All of the dishes tasted amazing! Our Creighton group decided that we should bring some form of Nebraska to the table. So of course we made a dish that included corn. Everyone loves cornbread muffins!

Samples of all the food that was hosted for us.
Samples of all the food that was hosted for us.

Not only was it great to see the variety of foods that were brought forth to the table, but it was also even better to see the people and friendships we’ve made during our short time in Alaska all come to the potluck. It just goes to show how great this community is. Some our friends that came were Connie and Arvin who showed a few of us to their fish camp the other day; Brian McCaffery, acting Yukon delta NWR manager and deacon of the Catholic Church; Cecilia, a Yup’ik woman, and her husband Mike; Alisha, our friend and fixer; Stan, a barbershop owner and amazing person who hosted all of us at his fish camp, Susan, who runs the Catholic Church behind the scenes; and Sarah, our guide and former Jesuit volunteer at the Catholic Church. Not only did our new friends show up, but members of the church also came to help us feel more at home and gift us with more food.

After our amazing feast all the students including Tony and Nicole all went on a nice long walk after dinner to unwind and goof off at the end of a long day. During our long walk, I realized that our own group is a potluck of personalities. The group wouldn’t be the same without everyone. It also wouldn’t be the same without everyone who was willing to help us out and make our time here in Bethel memorable and one for the books.

It also really hit me the various things I’m going to miss the most about Bethel. I’m going to miss these late night 11 pm strolls while it’s still light out. I’ll even miss seeing kids still riding around on their bikes at night with nothing but one layer on while you see me with four layers on. I’m going to miss just spending time with everyone literally 24/7 and eating every meal together like a giant family. I’ll miss our attempts at “jumping pictures”. It’s random moments like these I’m going to miss the most. I do know for a fact these memories will still continue to be made even after we come back from Alaska. I won’t lie. I was little homesick a week ago (Yes mother I’m admitting it!). Normally you are supposed to feel homesick after you leave a place. Now I’m starting to feel the post-Alaska homesickness. It’s incredible we’ve only been here a week and a half, but I feel like it’s not enough time. There’s still so much more to explore and learn from Bethel. Perhaps I could continue this exploring and come back one day. Maybe by that time I’ll be in or done with dental school and I could use my skills here. No matter what, I see myself coming back to this place I can call a home.

Quyana to all that have made this experience amazing!

Goofing off on our late night walks.
Goofing off on our late night walks.

Touchdown ALASKA!!!

My first Alaskan sun from the airport really took some getting used to. It was only dark from about 12:30 AM till 4 AM. Photo by Kari Welniak
My first Alaskan sun from the airport really took some getting used to. It was only dark from about 12:30 AM till 4 AM. Photo by Kari Welniak

Touchdown ALASKA!!!

Well folks we finally made it! There has been a lot packed into these past two days so I’ll give you a short briefing.

I survived my fear of planes on all three flights along with my plane buddy and fellow classmate, Stephanie Tedesco. It kind of threw me off when we saw the sun set in Minneapolis, but saw it come back up on our flight to Anchorage. It did not quite settle in yet that I was going to Alaska until I saw the snow covered mountains and ice filled rivers from thousands of feet above. We finally arrived in Anchorage at around 12 AM, but in actuality it really felt like 3 AM Omaha time. It was quite the scene seeing 20 students and professors along with all the travelers spending the night on the seats all throughout the airport. That was a first for me! It was amazing how the sun worked because it never fully set even at 3 AM. This really threw me off, but I did not care because we were all sleep deprived so we passed out pretty well.

Now it really settled in once I saw the Alaska logo on the outside of our plane. We were welcomed to Bethel with signs all over the airport saying “EXIT, WELCOME, and BATHROOM”, in the Yup’ik language. After our short tour of Bethel from the airport to the Immaculate Conception of the Catholic Church we finally caught up on some sleep with a nice long four hour nap. Somehow we managed to squish three mattresses into our little room for six people. I love my new sleeping bag that makes me look like I’m in caccoon!

After being all rested up, I put my new rain boots to good use and took a walking tour of Bethel with our group. Some of the things I noticed included the following:
1. All the buildings are on stilts.
2. There were a lot of dogs! People mush them in the winter time.
3. People walk everywhere as much as they can. There’s my exercise for the week!
4. The main boardwalk is beautiful and walks right over some tundra. This part was my favorite!
5. Tundra. Tundra. Tundra. Tundra. Tundra is everywhere!
6. There are a lot of “American Chinese” food places.
7. People rolled down their windows and were yelling, “Ya Creighton!” Yes, the Creighton crew has officially arrived!
8. All of the trashcans are decorated and painted.
9. There are signs all along the roads that are in the shape of salmon and have sayings to help protest the restrictions on salmon fishing.
Towards the end it was raining hard (The rain always comes and goes even when its sunny out!). Yeup! We are in Bethel, Alaska! We finally came back and had pizza and socialized with some people that we were going to interview, meet with, and help us with our documentary. The person I found the most inspiring was our friend, Alisha. The reason why she came to Bethel was because she wanted to get away from materialism and consumerism and found a true good culture. She found people who actually do things for each other and care for one another because everyone benefits form everyone. She also showed us a small video of why she fell in love with Bethel. Just listening to her and my first day in Bethel, I could already feel the beginnings of my love for Bethel start to grow.

To be continued!…