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The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

Often I marvel at the circumstances that conspire to create the life I live. Sometimes I stop and ask myself, how did I come to be in this place, now, doing what I’m doing? I asked myself this again yesterday at Wal Mart in Fairbanks. I went up to the pharmacy counter with a question, and prefaced it with the explanation, “I’m chaperoning a group of twenty students and driving them on the school bus for three days. I have one little girl who gets carsick and a handful of others who are jealous of the attention and then ‘feel carsick’ too. Where do you keep the children’s chewable Dramamine?” It’s at that point that I wonder at my life.

For the past couple of weeks, my students have been spending afternoons rehearsing their traditional Native dances and songs, and sewing and beading their vests and dresses. It's been a delight to watch them every afternoon practicing and dancing. They all have such big and unselfconscious grins as they dance. It’s really good to see. I wish we could dance every day of the school year, or find other things they enjoy as much. They have been practicing for the annual Festive of Native Arts in Fairbanks. They have been invited to perform at this festival and exhibition honoring Native culture from across the state every year for the past handful of years. They are the Diinjit Hanlai Traditional Dancers from Circle, Alaska.  

On Thursday morning, I loaded up my group of twenty students on to the bus and headed to Fairbanks for three days to attend the Festival of Native Arts. We left a little later than scheduled due to the cold. School board policy says that students won’t travel in temperatures colder than 35 degrees below zero. It was 48 below when I woke up that morning. As the sun came up, the temperature warmed up quickly, and we left about 10AM. It was a great few days of hanging out with my students and the little elementary kiddos too. They are all fun to be around. They danced at the Festival of Native Arts on Thursday and Friday nights. In addition to performing and watching other Native groups perform at the FNA, we visited the UAF Museum of the North, bowled, shopped, saw a movie and stayed at the hotel.

On Thursday night, after our group performed, they were given some free time to watch other groups perform and to wander through the booths set up with items for sale. Imagine an indoor flea market with tables set up, each with a different vendor selling Native arts and crafts. While the older groups wandered on their own, I followed the younger kids around, four girls and one boy in grades 1, 2 and 3, keeping them together and out of trouble. At one stall, we all approached the table to ooh and ahh at the items for sale, when a woman behind the table said to me, “You sure have a good looking family.” I said thanks and explained that they were my students, not my own kids. It was kinda neat for a moment though, thinking about them all being my kids. I was flattered.

On Saturday morning, we made our final visits to Wal Mart and Fred Meyer for shopping and snacks before loading up the bus and heading up the Steese Highway for home once again. I again shepherded the little guys while the older students shopped on their own. I had a lot of fun walking up and down the isles with the group of little ones. Kids are so great. It’s a different thing being the one responsible for those kids for a few days, but I’m happy to report that everyone made it back to Circle safe and sound. And no one even puked on the bus.

Posted on Monday, March 5, 2007 at 12:25AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

I meant to call yall this past weekend and prayed that you had a good week. It seeemed that you and the kids did have a good one. The title misled me a bit, thinking that you had bus trouble or got stuck along the way :-)

Glad you made it back to Circle safely. So, did the kids won any awards or such?
March 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDad

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