Appreciation for multiple cultures developed on Alaska trip

March 11, 2013

CSC student Miles Proctor, of Lusk, Wyo., poses with a sled dog Friday, March 1, 2013 following the dog handler training class. The course was taught by Iditarod veteran Wayne Curtis. CSC student Miles Proctor, of Lusk, Wyo., poses with a sled dog Friday, March 1, 2013 following the dog handler training class. The course was taught by Iditarod veteran Wayne Curtis.

“Life-changing” was the way Tad Henkenius described his experience on the Chadron State College Study Away Alaska 2013 trip. The Rangeland Management major from Neligh, Neb. said the highlights for him were intercultural exchanges, handling the Iditarod race dogs and visiting the Beryozova School which serves the Old Believers Russian community.

In the school, three languages are spoken, children wear traditional dress and are allowed to work as fast or slow as needed based on their schedules helping their families who are engaged in the fishing industry. The students are very adept with computer usage since they use the Internet for research when the sole teacher for the building is busy. Darren Burrows, the only CSC student repeating the trip for the second year in a row, said the school was one of the most memorable stops on the trip.

Twelve CSC students from majors including Family and Consumer Sciences, Pre-Medicine, Range Management, Criminal Justice, Business and Education, along with three faculty members and one Admissions’ representative completed the trip which began Feb. 27 and ended March 10.

Expedition organizer, Dr. Chuck Butterfield, professor and department chair in Applied Sciences at CSC said, “Overall the trip went extremely well. I’ve been taking these kinds of trips for many years and this is one of the best groups ever. Our presenters were amazed at the size of our group and the distance we had traveled to be there,” said Butterfield.

Logan Hatch, a CSC Criminal Justice senior from Blackfoot, Idaho, said his ride-along with the Anchorage Police Department gave him a chance to interact with the officers exposing him to some different issues than are faced by departments in the Lower 48. Stephanie Steele, a Pre-Medicine major, completed a shadowing experience in an Anchorage hospital.

The CSC students participated in dog-handling training, after which each was issued a certification card. They assisted mushers prior to both the ceremonial and actual start of the Iditarod and participated in service through building an access ramp to the platform for the ceremonial start of the race.

The group spent one full day touring a number of Title I/English Language Learning elementary and middle schools. Butterfield said, “In one school, 26 languages were spoken. The students were from remote islands and remote parts of Africa, all being taught English by immersion.”

The Alaska Native Cultural Center was a favorite among those commenting about the trip. The center presenter was a former Chadron resident and Forest Service employee, Dave Farve. Other stops included the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, and a four-hour discussion with Willy Templeton, director of Native Student Services at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Willy Hensley author of “Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People.”

The CSC students and a dozen UAA students participated in a rich, deep conversation about values, ethics and the controversial Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay. “A lot of information was covered that afternoon. Our students learned about the harsh conditions that people encountered here and how they adapted to survive and thrive,” said Butterfield.

A couple who belongs to a dog mushing club, Greg and Marti Rhyne, invited several CSC students to take their hand at mushing. Even though not every student was able to be a musher, “It was a perfect way to cap off the week,” said Butterfield. Photos of the group's adventure can be seen on their Facebook page, Chadron State College - Study Away Alaska 2013.

CSC faculty and staff members on the Study Away trip were Dr. Charles Butterfield, Dr. Karen Enos, associate professor of education Dr. Ann Petersen, professor of Education, and Laura Phagan, admissions representative. CSC students on the trip were Darren Burrows, Stephanie Steele, Robin Janel Moore, Miles Proctor, Lacey Clarke, Andrew “Drew” Johansen, Logan Hatch, Ashley Kessler, Christa Wilson, Dylan Brant, Tad Henkenius and Courtney Pendleton.

Before embarking on the trip, students opted to earn from one to three credit hours. Those who chose three credit hours will write a paper upon returning. They were all required to keep a fairly robust daily journal of their reflections and explanations of what they were learning about indigenous life.

—Tena L. Cook, Interim Marketing Coordinator