I love a good story. That’s one of the reasons that I, and many of my fellow volunteers, applied to KNOM in the first place: to hear, record, and produce the stories of people who live in Western Alaska. But sometimes our service to Western Alaska goes beyond storytelling, and sometimes that service does not result in a story worth telling.
Here’s an example: while I was in Golovin earlier this week for the Kawerak career fair, Bering Air canceled most of its flights due to fog conditions. I, and several other Nome-ites, had to stay overnight in Golovin and wait for the weather to clear. I texted the lead advocate I volunteer with at Bering Sea Women’s Group that I wouldn’t be able to make it in to do crafts with the kids that night because I wouldn’t be in Nome. She texted back the names of several great- nieces and nephews that she had in Golovin, as well as their grandmother’s name. I promised that I would keep an ear open for those names, but ultimately thought, “No way am I ever going to see them.”
That night, three of the Kawerak presenters and I headed to the Golovin ERA for Family Fun Night, which takes place every Monday. A lady introduced herself to us and, amazingly, it was the grandmother of my friend’s nieces and nephews. I introduced myself, and she called the children over so I could tell them that their auntie says hello. Later that night, I excitedly texted the advocate that I had seen the children and said hello for her. She was thrilled. She loves those kids, and hasn’t been able to visit with them for a long time. She was so happy to hear from an impartial third party that they were absolutely adorable, talkative, bright, and curious.
That’s not a good story. It’s kind of boring, and too personalized to really mean anything to anyone outside the family. Those events will get lost in the shadows of grander gestures, better stories, and more interesting blog posts. That’s okay. Sometimes service is a small thing, but there is an auntie in Nome who sleeps a little bit better now that she knows her sister’s grandchildren are well.