The Forum's Sister School Exchange program builds connections between Alaskan communities through a reflective experiential-based curriculum that culminates with an exchange.
The program operates throughout the school year, matching a teacher and five students from a rural community with a teacher and five students from urban Alaska. These teams work through a 6-8 week curriculum on cross-cultural understanding, and then take turns visiting and hosting each other.
In the 2017-18 school year, 24 teams participated in the program, including Emilee Lomibao, a 7th grader from Eielson. Below, she shares photos and reflections on her experience. Interested in taking part in 2018-19? Learn more at akhf.org/sse.
We flew from Fairbanks to a different place called Wrangell. They gave us a warm welcome and showed us their homes to stay in. I got to know them better as we stayed in their homes it was really similar yet very different.
One of the first things we did as a group was go on a very long but fun boat ride. On the ride we saw animals like seals, eagles, and seagulls. At one point we were about fifteen miles from Canada.
We all went to their classes like history, science, and choir. After school in the science room with the science teacher he showed us how to gut hooligan, some kids felt sick.
They had extra activities for us exchange kids like sticker making, I made some dragons.
Us kids got to know and understand each other better. We all went and got ice cream at a thai/sushi/ice cream place, then went close to a shore rock line right by the inn. We all sat on a rock wall and talked to each other and watched the small waves with some people paddle boarding with the sun to their backs.
At the almost end of the trip me and a friend got water shot at us by clams and barnacles, the first time I jumped because it hit my face and my leg. My friend was lucky I got hit first so he wasn’t surprised when he got hit only on the legs and hands.
Those experiences were so new and interesting that they were so rare to have them again would be surprising.
The way we learned about them and their home is something we would never experience again. But to me, what I learned, I experienced it deep in my heart. It had a bigger impact on me than what I had expected at first.
I’m glad I was open to all this, if I didn’t have I wouldn't have had as much fun as I did.
About the Author
My name is Emilee Lomibao, I'm going into 8th grade. I like to read books and manga, watch anime, hand sew, write, collect sea shells, and take pictures.
When I grow up I'm not sure what to be but I'm showing interest in science and medicine research. But as I stand now I'm having trouble understanding them to a degree.
I would like to work for the government in some way with records, in my spare time I plan write books. I also plan on going to college.