Telling about Teller!

So yesterday we took a little field trip to Teller – which is an Eskimo village about 70 miles (a good 2 hour drive) from Nome. We went to do a “Summercise” for just a day, but at least give the kids in the village one day to play around and try some food they may never see (i.e. fresh fruits and veggies). Not only that – but this trip also gave us interns another round of culture shock. 

We left around 11 and arrived in Teller at about 1:30. The roads were extremely foggy so it took us awhile longer.


Summercise didn’t start until 2:30 so we went and hung out at their Summer Lunch program in the community hall/Bingo joint. Yes – there really were people gambling on bingo tickets at the same time 4-10 year olds were eating their free meal. Sidenote-their free meal was depressing, since everything has to be shelf stable it was a glorious meal of turkey jerky, cheese-whiz in a cup, applesauce and a juice box 🙁 I realize they don’t have the access to fresh foods, but there has to be something we can do to make their lunches at least a tad healthier and delicious! One of the ladies that helps put on the Summer Lunch said most kids stop coming after the first week because they get so sick of the food. Summer Lunch was not the feel-good part of the day for this girl…

Afterwards we took a little tour around town. We learned that there are only 2 places in town with running water – the school and the clinic. We were also instructed not to drink the water (which we had heard and had come prepared with an ample supply of bottled water!)


(The headstart building)

It was now time that we headed to their Headstart (preschool) building to set up for Summercise. We didn’t figure on many children so we decided to keep them all together and do each activity together. That turned out well since only 11 children came; it was also great to be able to see the other interns teach and gain insight on how their classes run, as well as techniques to steal incorporate 🙂


The first class was relay races! Which were done outside… little chilly since they are right on the ocean and the temperature there was in the 30’s with a strong wind coming off the cold ocean.


A lot of the kids kept running away.. we learned that they are not given muchstructure so were unaware that this behavior wasn’t acceptable. Culture shock #1 – they were not running away because they were upset or rebelling… they honestly didn’t know.


Next class was an obstacle course adventure! They LOVED it! In fact, we went over in time on this one which was great – they just kept wanting to go through again and again and again. One girl was such a trouper – she would do the course with her teammates (so she ended up going through oh, around 1,000 times!)


(alright, so everyone was into it-except this little guy!)


By this time they were all tired and ready for a break and a snack. Jenna and Kristen to the rescue! Jenna and I co-taught them how to make a healthy snack – fruit kabobs with a cinnamon yogurt dip. They were so excited to have fresh fruit, and after seeing their grocery store I know why.



Above are pictures of their only grocery store. So sad-as they have nearly nothing in their refrigerated section.

IMG_1373< That would be over $8 for a box of cereal (the small box none the less)

Almost everything is processed – and this is during the summer when they can get shipments in 🙁 I felt horrible for them! A life with no vegetables?! Most kids cry when faced with a carrot or apple slice, but these children were begging for more! Culture shock #2.


After their snack we led camp songs and played some games of freeze dance before sending them home. But they didn’t just up and leave – they got to take a hula hoop, bowl of fresh fruit and ball home with them! It was great to be able to give out those items and each child was so excited and grateful!


Culture shock #3. People who have nothing really do appreciate absolutely every one million times more. These children never stopped thanking us for everything – handing them their cup of water, passing off the baton, helping them zip up their jacket. They were so polite and kind and joyous! It warmed my heart to see such appreciation in their faces.

After everything was cleaned up, we pilled back into the car to start the journey home. As I watched Teller fade into the rearview mirror, I knew that while I will probably never see those children again, the mark they left on my heart will be an eternal reminder of what joy, optimism and gratefulness truly mean.

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