The semester will end with a school-wide potluck in the school commons honoring the Elders and exchanging homemade gifts around Christmas time. This collaboration brings education about Alaska Native culture and communities to the class in a personal, hands-on way that first graders can uniquely comprehend and appreciate. Above all, the program has been an amazing tool for demonstrating social behavior and expectations, particularly when it comes to respect for elders, and how and why we respect elders of any ethnicity or culture.
I will continue to photograph this collaboration throughout the year. I am especially looking forward to helping the class make its gifts for the elders; last year, they made simple qaspeq garments out of t-shirts and hand-printed appliqued pockets. They are brainstorming a new gift idea for this year, as it sounds like the number of Elders planning to attend the event this year is so unprecedentedly large that they would never manage to get enough t-shirts done in time. Whatever they select, I'm sure it's going to be a visually rich project that the Elders will be delighted to accept.