Whether as producers or news reporters, the volunteer program at KNOM Radio exposes our staffers, each year, to the remarkable communities we’re so honored to serve. News reporter Emily Russell recently returned from two special places well within KNOM’s listening range, Stebbins and Koyuk, Alaska, both of which welcomed her warmly.
In Stebbins, Emily was impressed by the village’s landscape — punctuated by a lone tomcod fisherman, fishing on the near-shore ice of the Bering Sea — but even more so by the hospitality and storytelling of the community elders she met (some of whom are pictured above), including the Stebbins mayor, who greeted her upon her arrival and escorted her around town personally. “They told me about the changes they’ve seen in the landscape over the last half century,” she writes, “and so generously allowed me to record their memories… The entire day was remarkable.”
Just a few days later, Emily was off to nearby Koyuk, where she spent time with (and collected story material from) a few local school administrators, business people, and residents, one of whom gifted Emily not only with his family history and stories, but also with a bag of frozen fish. “I had nothing to offer him back, but I made sure I wouldn’t forget his willingness to share his stories and his fish,” she says. “It’s people like him, and so many others that I’ve met along the way, that make our region so special.”
In Koyuk, Emily adds, “Every person I met did not hesitate to share his or her story with me, a gift that far exceeds any material token I could take away from a village… I feel like I walk away from every village thinking it was the best travel experience yet, but I can tell you that Koyuk, and its kind people, will be tough to beat.”
For expanded descriptions of Emily’s latest trips, read her blog post “The Generosity of Western Alaska.” And thanks for making these village trips possible; we so firmly believe that connecting with the communities of rural Alaska is crucial to the ongoing work of our mission.
(Photos in gallery above: the landscape near Koyuk; Koyuk shopkeeper Corrine Trish.)