I’m waiting for the 3 pm flight out of Port Heiden. Mosaics are done, kids (and for sure, teachers!) are looking forward to their final four days of the school year.
This has been one of my favorite residencies. I was welcome, well cared for, and really happy in this community. With a small school you have the chance to get a sense of who the students are, can actually learn their names (I hate the “hey you” that has to happen in the larger schools,) and also have the time to really dig in and work. We spent most of every afternoon working as a group on our projects, meaning the kids probably had three times the time and contact that students get in a larger school. They did high quality work and I would expect that there will be more mosaics and prints made at Meshik School in the future. It’s helpful at the end of a long school year to have the novelty of a new face and some new things to do.
In my free time, I walked the beaches, befriended dogs, lived in the school, and enjoyed the general lack of busy-ness that a place like this provides. I was here for the graduation ceremony (class of two!) and potluck afterwards. I had to work to not make a complete pig of myself on the best salmon strips I’ve ever had. Nice fish here, not surprising.
The landscape is wide open and some days the wind and rain howled at a rate that kept me indoors; other days it was all distant mountains and sea. I saw the largest bear and wolf tracks I’ve ever seen.There is not a tree to be found. I am amazed yet again at how diverse this state is in geography, wildlife, and culture. I’d love to come back here someday with a backpack for a different kind of adventure, or to visit the school again and see how these kids grow and change.
Here’s a link to a nice website about Port Heiden: http://www.nativevillageofportheiden.com/
Assuming all goes as planned, by Monday I’ll be in another small school – different region, culture, landscape, and lifestyle – to help the kids in Tanacross finish out the school year with an art bang.