When I walked up to the immigration counter in Seattle, the officer looked down at my Canadian passport and asked me if I was heading somewhere sunny and 75. I laughed and said pretty much the exact opposite, I’m going to Anchorage. He laughed and told me that he was certain I was the only Canadian he’d see all day headed somewhere not warm and sunny. I have to admit, his reaction is pretty much the exact same reaction I got when I told my friends and family that for the third time I would be leaving the beautiful sunny Okanagan Valley, one of the top 5 summer travel destinations in Canada, to spend my summer in Alaska. As a third time intern with WAYK I’m no stranger to an Alaskan “summer” though I’ve been told that this summer should be warmer than my previous two internships, St. Paul in 2015, and Atka in 2016. Apparently, Anchorage can actually get as warm as 30 degrees Celsius! (which for all you Americans is pretty warm though feel free to convert it yourself!)

So why would I give up a summer in Kelowna, BC swimming in Okanagan Lake, rock climbing at Skaha, and salsa dancing in the park? #itsforthelanguage. But really, it’s for the language and all the people I know working on the language. Having been an intern for back-to-back years working with and learning first the Eastern dialect of Unangam Tunuu and then the Western dialect, Niigugim Tunuu I feel very connected to and invested in this project. After choosing to stay home in 2017 I knew I wanted to be part of the 2018 WAYK to round out this four-year cycle of Unangam Tunuu summer intensives. While a summer at home was fun, I missed all the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know in these communities and missed the hands-on language work.

When I’m not interning for WAYK I work as a University Instructor teaching linguistic anthropology courses in person at UBC’s Okanagan campus and remotely at Yukon College. So while I definitely still spend most of my time thinking about language, nothing is quite the same as being in a community immersed in a language revitalization project.

This summer I’m excited to reconnect with project participants I know from years past and to meet the new faces that have gotten involved. I’m especially excited to be a part of developing a thriving Unangam Tunuu language community in Anchorage for everyone who has relocated from the islands. As always, I hope to continue to build my WAYK skills and learn more Unangam Tunuu and hopefully some more chinuk wawa!

They always say, the third time’s the charm, so hopefully my third summer as a WAYK intern is the most magical summer yet!

Post authored by Robyn.

Written by Evan Gardner