If you’ve been following along, you know that all of the experiences I’ve been having are firsts here in Newhalen. I had my first boat ride, my first day of school, my first fishing trip, etc. Today, I’m here to tell you about my my first local potluck.
During the new teacher training, we received the advice to go to as many potlucks as possible. If you’re a new teacher, attending potlucks is the perfect way to familiarize yourself with the community. However, I’ve been told by several people in Newhalen that potlucks happen very often. Often enough where I’ve gotten the comment, “There are so many potlucks that you’ll run out of ideas for things to make!” However, I don’t think my stomach will be arguing with attending numerous potlucks throughout the year.
Our first potluck took place on the evening of the second day of school. Teachers, children, and community members all gathered in the Newhalen gym to feast. Before the eating began, the LSAC committee (kind of like our school’s PTA) called all of the teachers to the front and presented us with little jars of Hot Tamales (the cinnamon candies) with a note that read, “Your teaching is on fire!” Yes, if you were wondering, the idea is another product of Pinteresting.
Below, Kate and Bill attractively show off their Hot Tamales.
After the teachers received their warm welcome, the elders of Newhalen were asked to line up to dish up first. I absolutely love this idea and will probably be talking about it again. Here, elders are treated with the respect they deserve. They receive special privileges and are regarded with the highest esteem. This is yet another reason I love the culture of Southwestern Alaska.
Soon after the elders finished dishing up, everyone else joined the line. There were all kinds of good things to eat from fresh-baked pies to caribou. The caribou was delicious, by the way. I also got to taste something I’ve been curious about for a while: salmon jerky! Salmon jerky is very popular to make in this area. It was extremely chewy and extremely yummy.
The potluck was a lot of fun and was a great way to socialize and interact with community members I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to talk to. I look forward to many more potlucks to come!