Gayla Pedersen

After spending 5 weeks with Evan, while he was working with my language community, the opportunity came up. Evan asked me if I would like to go with him to the Unangax Language workshop in Anchorage. So I asked him “Well what do you think I will gain from it?” He replied “Hard to say”. So I let nature take its course and low and behold, all of a sudden there was a clear spot in my schedule. I checked my Airline miles and there were plenty. I received word from a cousin she would be in town and would get us a room. And so it was.

The first day we spent at the Alaska Language summit. I was introduced to countless people, teachers, learners and administrators, finding a sense of community, among strangers, through common experience. Evan was asked to do to a presentation, the group was small, but if I had to hand select the group, I could not have done a better job myself. “The gang was all there”. We had less than an hour together, but everyone got something of deep value, including myself.

After that, all the presenters moved to a “station” and we were able to give a different group of people a crash course in WAYK. We ran people through some of the activities that we do with in my language community and gave people a glimpse of the shear capacity and immense complexity that this methodology is capable of, while demonstrating the simplicity and ease in which it can be achieved. Tip of the iceberg. Everyone wanted more.

My second and third day was spent in the Unangax Workshop. The experience brought me through the full gamut of emotions. My gift in the end was perspective. I gained a ton of skills and techniques, was able to hone my teaching style and had plenty of opportunities to observe as well. There were two types of importance that I encountered. The first was seeing that a new community was going to have what my community now has, young speakers talking with Elders, in the language. The second and more personal, was being able to see EXACTLY where my community came from. A chance to look back and see just how far we have come. How we have learned to manage our selves and others. How to facilitate others needs while keeping our own needs met. And above all a renewed sense of purpose.

Written by Evan Gardner