Kodiak Summer 2015This summer, a team of WAYK interns convened in Kodiak, Alaska to try something new: an intern house.

The interns included Evan Amason, Dehrich Isuwiq Schmidt-Summer 2015 Immersion House Team Chya, Josh Higginbotham, Anders “Holla Holla” Hegre Håland, and myself. Both Evan and Dehrich have familial ties to the island and to its indigenous language, Kodiak Alutiiq. Josh and Anders are seasoned Where Are Your Keys players who spent the previous summer in Vancouver working with the Hǝn̓q̓ǝmin̓ǝm̓  language. As for me, I’ve spent the past two summers in Kodiak, first as an intern and then as an activist-cum-researcher.

Our primary goals for the summer were to support local learners, take the Alutiiq ridebook for a spin, and build up our own fluency so that any of us could step up to teach in future summers. Additionally, we enjoyed the opportunity to benefit from each other’s diverse experience and talents. Highlights of the summer include:

  • Playing “Cards Against Humanity” in Alutiiq
  • 2-hour long tea-making sessions replete with virtuosic uses of TQ: Make Me Say No. (No, you probably should not pour the contents of the boiling kettle directly into your mouth…)”
  • Watching movies and TV shows with the sound off, providing our own Alutiiq voice-overs and commentary
  • Helping a local learner reclaim the domain of language related to washing dishes, culminating in an illustrated step-by-step guide accompanied by a dish-washing rap
  • Playing Norwegian with an elder who had always wanted to learn it
  • Hunting many useful little conversational words, i.e. “Okay”, “Just cuz”, “I guess…”, “It’s just like…”, “Anyway…”
  • Liberally recruiting words from Spanish, French, etc. when there was a gap in Alutiiq and we didn’t want to switch into English. “Calabaza” and “aubergine” both made cameos in the course of our kitchen adventures.
  • Learning tidbits of Unangax, chinuk wawa, Norwegian, Latin, French, and Japanese
  • Endless berry-picking, exploring, and appreciating the incredible beauty of Kodiak island

Overall, the summer was an exciting exercise in TQ: Mad Science, and we learned a lot that we will carry forward to future endeavors. Personally, I loved the chance to return to Kodiak after my previous two summers, and I hope to come back before too long!

Post authored by Julia.

Written by Evan Gardner