joolee's forty

forty days. forty stories.

coming into the country

by  Peter and Leisa Kokes

Joolee came to pick up Bill at the Bethel airport on a snowmobile

Joolee picks up Bill at the Bethel airport on a snowmobile, 2008

There isn’t any one incident that stands out in our minds that makes Julie such a unique individual—–it’s a combination of many self effacing traits that makes Julie loved by everyone.  We knew Julie when she first came to Alaska in about 2002-2003?  She was truly bright eyed and bushy tailed and we got WAY MORE than we expected!  Instead of us teaching her the ropes, she taught us.  First off—–she was happy to live in the loft of the equipment room just off the gym —–(made us clean out that room for probably the first time ever—-but it was still full of balls, nets, scaffolding etc.).  She lived there for, I think, the whole semester.

Boats along the river in winter between Kasigluk and Akula, Alaska

Julie would walk/run from Napakiak to Bethel on a fairly regular basis IN THE WINTER (nobody EVER did that purposefully during this season—– 15 miles).  She would either run the ice road on the Kuskokwim River or follow the electric power line (one strand from Bethel to Napakiak) when the river was breaking up—-refusing rides and leaving the native population puzzling as they rode off on their snow machines or trucks.  Julie often ran with our science teacher, Kevin, now a principal in Bethel, and he would come back, exhausted, lamenting – how could he be expected to keep up with her and her (length of leg description) physical abilities.

Joolee attaching screws to the soles of her running shoes in order to run on the frozen rivers around Kasigluk, 2009.

Julie has a smile that enchanted and a way with all the students and I do not remember her sending a student to the office for discipline—-EVER!

Kids gather outside the village store, Kasigluk.

I (Leisa) have to admit that I so admire Julie for all her worldly excursions and experiences.  She is the only person that I ever knew who had more fun – just living!  Also, she was completely non-judgmental of my (tobacco only) smoking.  I finally gave up that addiction two years ago, Julie.  Thanks for the inspiration to live a healthier life-style.

To my knowledge, Julie was the only female outsider to be invited into a steam hut with the Central Yup’ik Eskimo ladies in Napakiak.  I am sure she was invited into the men’s steam; but am just as sure she declined because our maintenance man complained of her uncooperativeness.

Kids on a sled, winter, Nunapitchuk

Yes, Julie was a different kind of Kusuck  (corruption of the Russian Cossacks).  Perplexed and loving would be the word for how the Yup’ik felt towards her.  She left a great legacy of how to live life to the fullest even when you live in a secluded native village in the bush of Alaska.

Quyana (thanks) for the experiences, Julie.  You are loved greatly.

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One comment on “coming into the country

  1. joolee
    March 8, 2012

    Peter and Leisa,
    I sure do love you guys! Thank YOU for letting me stay in your home for the first week or so of my time in Napakiak (I do fondly remember mornings in the kitchen with you, Leisa–big congrats on quitting the cigs…that’s hard!)…and Peter, you created an environment that was so warm (figuratively :O) and wonderful that you inspired me to return to the job–that was the first time I ever worked in the same place twice…and then more! I learned a lot from both of you about how to interact with people, and btw…moving into the loft was a great move, after little Elaine pulled a bra out of the couch where I’d slept in my classroom. Much love, Joolee

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This entry was posted on March 8, 2012 by in stories.

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