Chuck Herman grew up in Bethel and is a proud graduate of Ayaprun Elitnaurvik (Yup'ik Immersion) and Bethel Regional High School (BRHS). After graduating from college in Los Angeles, he returned to BRHS as a College and Career Guide and worked with 7th-12th grade students on thinking about what they want to do with their lives. He then moved and spent a few years in Boston studying and teaching storytelling (among other things).
Chuck is overjoyed to be back in Alaska and embracing living on the road system for the first time. He has a BA in Sociology and Public Policy from Pomona College and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
How are you connected to the Forum? I am a Youth Program Manager here at the Forum. This means that I get to come to the wonderfully welcoming office in the train depot every day to work on our youth programming. I grew up out in Bethel and am lucky to spend my day working on the Take Wing Tengluni project. Tengluni brings kids from the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta into Anchorage with the goal of grounding them in Yuuyaraq (the Yup’ik way of being) and developing their postsecondary skills. The Forum is also one of those places where being connected means getting to participate in events all over the community and I love the opportunity to meet new folks and hear people’s stories.
What’s one Alaskan story you’ve heard or read that you would recommend to others? It is tough for me to narrow it down to one story! I have been lucky with the Forum to get to travel to Yup’ik villages throughout the YK Delta and we have brought in local elders to speak with the kids in every village. The lucky byproduct of this is that I have gotten to hear stories from a number of different Yup’ik elders from different parts of the Kuskokwim. The stories that stick out to me the most are about perseverance. If you ever have the opportunity to sit quietly in the back while a Yup’ik elder is passing on stories to the next generation of Yup’ik kids, take it.
What’s one thing you have been curious about lately? I recently moved to Anchorage and have been spending a lot of time thinking about how rural Alaskans in Anchorage can stay connected to home. I am definitely curious how others have tackled this.
What question do you wish more people asked you? What gave you hope this week?
What conversations do we need to be having (or having more of) in Alaska? The disconnect between urban and rural Alaska is striking to me. Even the terminology used is wildly different! For example, I just recently learned the term “Cheechako”. I would love for more conversations that helped folks from different parts of the state understand each other just a little bit better.