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Teaching above the Arctic Circle makes Port Townsend woman humble

Teaching above the Arctic Circle makes Port Townsend woman humble | Inuit Nunangat Stories | Scoop.it

[excerpt]

Socks on the doorknobs prevent your hand from freezing to the metal.

Locking your front door isn’t a good idea.

Raw seal intestines are tastier than whale.

Coping with extreme cold and swallowing seal innards are some of the things that Katie Campbell, a 2006 Port Townsend High School graduate, has learned to take in stride in her first year of teaching special education in Kivalina, Alaska, a coastal village on a barrier reef 127 miles above the Arctic Circle.

She’s also learned that Inupiat people speak with their faces — raising the eyebrows means yes, scrunching up the face means no.

“I don’t think any of my students has said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ out loud since school started,” said Campbell, 23.

Campbell left Port Townsend in August for the isolated village.

When she accepted the job, people said she was crazy, but Campbell has thrived on the Arctic adventure, embracing a different culture and climate with open arms.

“Every day is something new, something I haven’t witnessed before,” she said in an interview in Port Townsend.

When she arrived in Kivalina four months ago, there were 17 hours of daylight each day.

When she left Dec. 17, there were six minutes.

She has experienced temperatures of 40 below zero, scraped snowdrifts off the windows so she could see out of the house and survived a storm with 100-plus-mph winds that blew waves over the narrow reef and the village airstrip.

Kivalina is one of the coast villages whose existence is threatened by global warming, she explained. In the past, an ice wall formed high enough to block waves from engulfing the reef.

Living in a village that clings to survival has taught her what’s important and what you can live without, Campbell said.

“I’ve learned to be humble,” she said.

“We’re so spoiled in the lower 48 states.”

[...]

 

Campbell posts photos and entries on her blog st

http://katie2ak.tumblr.com/

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