Winter is Coming

Greetings from Juneau!

Even though it’s Tuesday afternoon, I have the day off from work today and wanted to update all of you wonderful people who aren’t in Alaska with me! Juneau is slowly transitioning into winter and it has been pretty cold here the last few weeks. When we came back from our first JVCNW retreat in Wasilla AK (yes, Sarah Palin land!) the mountains were snow-capped and it felt like Jack Frost has made his first of many visits to Juneau this winter season. I am looking forward to the colder, snowier weather that will give way to more rosy cheeks, a different set of outdoor activities, and cozier days and nights spent reading, writing letters, knitting, and watching a variety of movies with my community members. (We’re currently working our way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Downton Abbey series on DVD, and the Harry Potter series.) Even the weather during the winter is more brutal than other seasons, it will be quite the thrill to experience winter in Alaska. Winter is coming and I could not be more excited.

I mentioned retreat and what a rejuvenating, relaxing, and life-giving time it was! All of the Alaska communities (Bethel, Sitka, Anchorage, and us) came together to take time and reflect about how the transition process and first few months of the year have been with a specific focus on community living and building/maintaining relationships. There were many break out sessions in which we got a chance to talk with people in other communities more intimately and check in with our own communities about a variety of subjects. There was also an even balance of free time and scheduled activities which allowed for more bonding time, bountiful laughter, enriching conversations, and strengthening relationships. The Anchorage JVs hosted all of us the night before retreat actually started and threw one hell of a Halloween party. All of us Alaska JVs had creative costumes and we all got to catch up informally which helped to alleviate the awkwardness that could have happened had we just reconnected starting at retreat. We even got to explore Anchorage a bit the next day which consisted of going to REI, Barnes and Noble, and a funky Fair Trade store, and eating at a delicious cafe all while being in the presence of many chain establishments that none of us had seen for the last few months. Barnes and Noble and Walgreens were my two favorites. If only we could have gotten to the Target…Anyways, retreat came at the perfect time and I know that it provided me with new insights about not only my community but community living more generally which was extremely helpful.

Transitioning back to Juneau and daily life was a bit of a struggle after four days of rest and relaxation, but I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. Things at YDHS are going well since we started a new quarter in late October. I feel like I’m starting to build stronger relationships with my students and I feel like I’m becoming a more involved member of the YDHS community. I’m getting to know the students and teachers better and I am sharing more of myself with them as well. Some days are challenging, especially when wanting to balance the “cool factor” with the respected staff member role but I am learning how to navigate these waters better, even when the water may be choppy and rough.

I am thankful for all the support I have gotten, from both within Juneau and from all of my loved ones in the Lower 48, and I would not be able to get through this year without all of you! Also, please leave your addresses, especially if they have changed within the last few months, because I would love to write you all letters!

Right now I have to run and catch the bus, but until next time, know that I’m sending love and warmth from up North!

❤ Meredith

P.S. Unfortunately, I did not see Sarah Palin BUT I made sure to do my impression of her while in Wasilla. Also, I am even more relieved she did not become our Vice President after seeing the town where she was mayor. I’m almost positive there are more moose and bears there than people.