Day 51 #robyns2016summeradventure

Thursday was a super funny day of lesson development. Last summer in St. Paul we developed a language lesson for #QawalangimTunuu that involved a little skit and was super effective so we decided to translate it into #NiiĝuĝimTunuu. The best part about this lesson is acting out the three different parts: sitting, eating, and working because as the lesson progresses our acting skills get worse and worse and suddenly we’re throwing cheerios into each other’s mouths and turning tables upside down. I have developed a reputation of being particularly bad at acting out “working” and I accidentally taught Nate how to be bad at it too, so the best part of our skit was when Nate and I were supposed to be “working” together. Sally thought it was especially funny and kept telling us to say that we weren’t working and instead were playing. As you can see we are really skilled at using these tools, anyone want to hire us for your next building project? Sometimes we were laughing so much it was almost impossible to get the words out. Even though our pronunciation might have suffered at least this language lesson was memorable. I know for a fact I’ll remember how to say “awakus!” #itsforthelanguage #WAYKSummerAtka


Day 49/50 #robyns2016summeradventure

So this week I got sick…again. Apparently my immune system sucks a bit this summer. As always it was sad to miss out on time at the school helping with the project especially because I was missing out on learning new songs and lessons. After two days in bed and I was feeling better though and my mood improved when I came out to the kitchen Wednesday night to make some tea and Erin and I saw our little fox friend! He found a reindeer leg in the trailer and made a great meal out of it. We’re totally winning Alaska animal bingo! #foxfriends #WAYKSummerAtka #Atka

Day 48 #robyns2016summeradventure

So Sunday night we ended up staying at the school working until after midnight and no one in the WAYK house got to bed before 2am. Oops! And since I had a Skype date planned with my bestie in the morning, it made for a very short night. Luckily my job on Monday was to write out all of the language lessons we had developed so far which meant lots of isolation and very little socializing, which is best for me when I’m running on 4 hours of sleep. Since we work in a school I walk past the library every day and this week The Giver caught my eye. I haven’t read it since I was in grade 6, but it seemed especially fitting to read it on Monday with all of the crazy things happening in the world. It served as a perfect reminder that no matter how hard we try, no place is perfect, and the best we can hope for is to be brave enough to take every opportunity to make the world better. No matter where we are in the world it’s something we can all work on. #prayfortheworld #WAYKSummerAtka

Day 47 #robyns2016summeradventure


Sunday it was supposed to be another sunny day and the language team agreed to go swimming again. Thankfully, it ended up being cloudy which is good because I was definitely not ready to brave the Bering Sea again! So instead I’ll share a photo from our Saturday fun. Saturday was Alaska Flag day, the day which commemorates the creation of the Alaskan Flag (which fun fact was designed by an Aleut boy, Benny Benson). The flag has 8 gold stars, 7 which make up the Big Dipper and 1 which symbolizes the North Star. We tried to take a team photo posing for Alaska flag day by all making the sign for star but I couldn’t stop laughing/shivering long enough to pose! Whose idea was it to go swimming anyways…oh wait, it was mine. What was I thinking?!? #alaskaflagday #BeringSea #WAYKSummerAtka

Day 46 #robyns2016summeradventure

Today was Alaska Flag Day and it was a beautiful sunny day so we celebrated with a picnic on the beach including a fire, hotdogs, s’mores and Alaskan baseball! I also braved the cold and actually went swimming in the Bering Sea! So to everyone who teased me for not swimming last time I hope I made you proud! For the record, it was only about 15 degrees Celsius outside and the water was absolutely freezing, I must be crazy! Can I call it a polar bear plunge if it’s July? #polarbearplunge #WAYKsummerAtka #Atka #Alaska #BeringSea

Day 44 #robyns2016summeradventure

I know that I’m a big language geek and although I never try to deny it some days my crazy love of language shines through more than others. This week in particular it seems like I was geeking out over fun language things even more than usual. #Niiĝuɡ̂imTunuu is a really cool language and so drastically different from English that it’s a really fun challenge to track all the grammatical pieces and it feels like such an accomplishment to be able to combine multiple pieces. On Thursday I managed to start using positionals (above, below, etc) with possessives (mine, yours) and even managed to get into plurals in one language session. My brain hurt a little after that particular jumping jack. To switch it up though we started learning some nursery rhymes that have been translated into Niiĝuɡ̂im Tunuu, including Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Where is Thumbkin? Susanna, Erin, and I weren’t great at the vocabulary for Qata Hutax̂? though so we had to label our fingers so we could keep up. If only that marker lasted a little longer I might still remember the words…#itsforthelanguage #WAYKsummerAtka

Day 43 #robyns2016summeradventure

Another one of the challenges of living on a remote island is that the access to fresh fruits and veggies is quite limited, and what is available at the store is very expensive. We lucked out though and found out that a barge was coming from Seattle to Atka this month and we were actually able to order some food that was delivered by the barge, including a massive re-stock for our pantry from Costco and lots of fresh produce from Safeway. The barge arrived on Wednesday and I couldn’t be happier about all of our yummy food! I’ve never been so happy to see a bag of grapes before! #ChristmasinJuly #edgeofthefirstworldproblems #WAYKsummerAtka

Day 42 #robyns2016summeradventure

So as of today I am officially halfway through my summer in Atka, which is crazy! It feels like time is going by too fast, especially on a day like today when I learned so much and can see how much more there is to experience. I had two awesome language sessions today and got to play around with some fun verb constructions. The best parts of my day however were the times I got to spend with Sally, one of then fluent elders we’re working with, listening to her stories and learning from her. Including this evening when Sally and Crystal invited us interns to watch them cut up seal blubber and jar it to make seal oil. It was a fascinating process and I feel very honoured that we got to learn about this very traditional Unangax̂ practice. The seal oil will be ready in a few weeks and I’m already looking forward to trying it again! Also, in case you were wondering, it is possible to fit four adults on a 4-wheeler, and this “ussie” proves it! #itsforthelanguage #WAYKsummerAtka #Atka #Alaska

Day 41 #robyns2016summeradventure

Happy June-July! It was super nice to have another relaxing day off today but I was really missing the big Fourth of July celebration in St. Paul and the #WAYKsummerStPaul team! Especially my American counterpart Casey Boyette! I channeled my inner-Casey today though and together with Erin (who I affectionately refer to as Casey 2.0) we made a favourite meal of mine that Casey introduced me too last summer, split-pea soup and biscuits! As most of you probably know I’m a pretty avid baker but I’ve gotten so out of practice since I’ve been here that I read the recipe wrong and ended up making 40 biscuits instead of 16..haha oops! Good thing they were all still delicious! I guess I’m just going to have to get back to my regular routine of baking once a week to keep my brain sharp #itsforthelanguage #WAYKsummerAtka