Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Super Mega Chévere!

It has been a little over a week since I got to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. For the next month or so I am living just outside of the city and taking Spanish classes. Just got internet on my computer, more updates soon. Here is the view of Quito from the top floor of the building where I'm taking language classes:

Abrazos y besos,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

last night in Arviat

It's my last night in Arviat and I can't sleep/pulling a packing all-nighter/listening to Dial A Stranger. (Thanks Mercedes & Zachary)

I'm bittersweet about leaving Arviat. Even though I was only here for a month, I feel like had a chance to connect with some really kind, wonderful, interesting folks. I played a lot of radio bingo. I learned some new hand clapping games from 7 and 10 ye
ar old girls. I ate narwhale.

At the same time, I am excited to continue researching a
nd traveling. Warmer weather will be nice. And even though I'm leaving, I'm looking forward to sending postcards, and of course, to calling up Arviaqpaluk and to say hi and wish everyone happy birthday.

My next stop is Toronto -- I'm there for a week, going to the regional NCRA conference check it check it and then down to Ecuador to learn Spanish.

Here is a picture of the Hudson Bay. It's just now beginni
ng to freeze over.

And what it sounded like at two in the afternoon today:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

tuhanaliktutit (you're on the air)

The on-air studio of Arviaqpaluk

The radio is a hugely popular way to advertise are some for sale items on Arviaqpaluk. Here's what's for sale in Arviat -- a dresser with mirror, Spiderman the DVD, a chordless phone, women's dress shoes.

After bingo last night I went on the air to wish a happy early birthday to my friend Dorothy. It was my first time wishing someone happy birthday on the radio, Cecile is on after me:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

wind outside of Arviaqpaluk

Arviat is above the treeline, and because the land is flat for miles and miles around, the wind here is really strong. It makes a great sound whistling across buildings and through telephone wires.

This is sound of the wind recorded from inside the radio station.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

happy birthday to you!

Birthday greetings are hugely popular on Arviaqpaluk, Arviat's community radio station. Because so many people want to wish their loved ones happy birthday (or anything else) on the radio, there are time limits -- if you live in Arviat, you get 5 minutes on air, if you're calling from out of town you have 10 minutes, and Elders can go on the air for as long as they like. This is a radio birthday greeting in Inuktitut and English recorded last week.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Arviat vs. New York City

I never thought I'd give a presentation on growing up in New York City, but this week I ended up speaking in front of two classes at Nunavut Arctic College in Arviat about life in the big apple. Photoslide show and everything. I got some great questions, ended up talking a lot about September 11th, and about some of the famous people I've seen around the city (Josh Hartnett used to live in my friend's building, and my brother once shook hands with Mike Myers).

It made me think about some of the differences between living in Arviat and living in New York. Not just the obvious things, the little cultural differences. Here's one: No one here knocks. Everyone just walks in to houses. It's been hard for me to get used to, just walking into someone's house without knocking first, but only the RCMP knocks first! Back in New York City, there's two locked doors and an elevator to get in to my parents' apartment, I usually buzz visitors in from upstairs.

New York City is a city of 8.3 million and to get a sense of the size of Arviat the other day, a friend asked me, "How many stoplights?" When I related this to the class during the presentation and they all laughed. The answer is zero. None of the streets have names either, but the houses have numbers and everyone knows where everyone lives anyway.

There are lots more that I'm adjusting to. Most groceries are shipped here, so milk is over 7 dollars. People say hi on the street. Not knocking the first few times really threw me for a loop, but I think now it's going to be harder for me to adjust back to not being able to just visit anyone at any time. There's a different sense of community here than back home -- big families, close ties.

I think it's the closeness of the small community that makes radio here really work (always bringing it back to radio, I know, I can't help myself). I was at the station the other night and two or three parents called into the station to go on air and tell their kids to come home because it was past curfew. If you're from Arviat and you're reading this, your reaction is probably along the lines of, "So what?" But from a New Yorker's point of view, it's really cool. I don't know of any radio station in New York City where you could call up and tell your kid it's past their bedtime. And know that they're probably listening. Or if they're not listening, someone will spot Abby or Jimmy and tell them their mom was on the radio and that they should run along home.

And if you're an radio announcer in Arviat, most everyone knows who you are. If you're doing a good job (or a bad job), everyone who stops to talk to you on the street will tell you so. The tight knit community means there's more direct line of communication between broadcaster and listener.
It's definitely different than where I am from.

Okay! Now for what all of my relatives really want -- pictures. I went berry picking last weekend. Photos courtesy of my bingo friend Joyce (thanks Joyce!)

Riding on the back of Joyce's honda with Cecile driving:

Picking berries with my friend Mary and her daughter (from a couple of weeks ago):

View of Arviat from just outside of town:

and here I am driving the honda. Just keep in mind that I don't know how to drive a car yet:

pedal to the metal,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

polar bears, caribou, radio, oh my!

It's been a little over two weeks since I arrived in Arviat, Nunavut. Arviat is a town of 2800 people, mostly Inuit community, located on the west shore of the Hudson Bay. There are no trees but there are caribou and polar bears. I just saw a polar bear the other day -- luckily, from a distance.

And! There is really cool community radio. The station here is called Arviaqpaluk ("The Sound of Arviat" in Inuktitut). The station is on air Monday through Friday from 9am-11, 11:30-1 (everyone goes home for lunch here), and 7:00pm-10pm. It's a combination of birthday annoucements ("Hello Charles, happy birthday, we love you!"), for sale items ("Television, 150 dollars, call 2459") and general announcements ("Stephanie, please come home, your mom says that it's past your curfew"). There's some special programming too, a music call-in show called "Huvigo" ("What do you want?" slang), gospel on the weekends, and radio bingo (my favorite). Pretty much everyone in town listens during lunch and after dinner -- lots of people have told me that the station is central to the town community.

Today I'm going to host a call in show on the topic "Arviaqpaluk," and solicit anyone who wants to call in for favorite memories of the station, why they think the station is important. This is all with the of my new bingo friend Cecile, she's been kind enough to offer to come along with me and translate. I'm really interested and excited to hear directly from people listening to Arviaqpaluk as to why they listen.

In the meantime, I've been keeping myself busy with adventures. I've been caribou hunting and fishing and berry picking. I've tried mukta (beluga skin), which was pretty good. I had it boiled and raw, it was best with ranch dressing. I've been eating lots of caribou meat, which is delicious, I made caribou pad thai for the family I'm staying with the other night, kind of a culinary adventure. Char (salmon-like fish) is really delicious too.

I have a cold, so I've been taking it easy this weekend, but I still managed to win $200 dollars at radio bingo on Friday! It was hilarious. I freaked out a little, and Cecile and Joyce and the other friends I've made playing radio bingo had to call the station for me! Afterwards, I crossed the street to the station and picked up the money -- cash. Exciting. Radio bingo is crazy popular here, I've been playing every weekend.

Here's some sad news: I lost my camera, and all of the pictures I took from the last month, and I haven't been able to take many pictures of Arviat. Luckily, I've been able to borrow a camera to take some pictures, so those will get uploaded soon. In the meantime, here's a picture of a caribou I saw crossing a lake:

Many hugs from up North,