For the last 3 years, students living on the Pribilof Islands and the Commander Islands have been sharing letters. Letters are translated between Russian and English and sent via email between islands.
In just 10 days-time, three students from the Commander Islands will be starting their long journey over to St. Paul for Seabird Camp. We’ve all learned so much from the pen-pal letters, and there is great anticipation about the up-coming visit.
Here are a few excerpts from the last round of letters sent from the three students soon to travel. Thank you for sharing, safe travels, and see you soon!
From Sasha: “I’m 15 years old, I’m in the 9th grade. I live on the Bering Island. In our school, we study eleven years from the 1st to 11th classes. We have a dining room in our school; lunch duration is 15 minutes. We do not have a basketball team, but we play basketball. And I’m fond of volleyball. We have a police and the Federal Rescue Service working on the Island. The Rescue Service is engaged in saving people, and there is a Fire Department. I also have a question to you. Do you have trees on the Island? Just from the films about the Aleutian Islands, I noticed that there are tress on some islands”.
From Polina: “We also have a gym in the village. It is available for both adults and children, but we have different time schedules. In the gym there is a gymnastic area, boxing space, two tennis tables, large basketball, volleyball and football courts and a fitness center – we call it ‘pumping’ (boys like it). We often have volleyball and table-tennis championships.”
“Tourists often come to the Island on a large cruise liner. They visit the local museum, watch the sights of the village and sometimes we arrange a concert of Aleut culture in the Community Center. Some tourists come to go hiking on the Island and to watch birds as well.”
From Artim: “I’m 14 years old and I’m currently in the 8th grade. I live on the Bering Island. This is the largest Island on the Commander Islands archipelago. This is the only Island that is inhabited by people. In days past, people also lived on the Medny Island, but in 1972 all of the residents were moved to the Bering Island. Now we have only one settlement – the Nikolskoe village. Its population is 680 people.”
“Chauncey, you write that you go anywhere on the island without your parents worrying about your safety. We also don’t have restrictions. We have a huge coastal strip, which stretches in the zone of visibility of the village for several kilometers and we are allowed to walk there. In our village we also know each other and live together doing no harm to anyone.”
“Our village is small and that’s why after graduation of 11th classes on the Island we travel to other cities of Russia to enter higher educational establishments and colleges for getting further education and job. Our parents stay living on the Island, but they always assist their children while they studying in other cities.”
“Salmon fish (sockeye salmon, Coho salmon and pink salmon) is extracted industrially in the rivers of the Island. All extracted fish goes into export. People who live on the Island go fishing for free and fish for as much fish as necessary, and we help our parents. Children don’t accompany adults at the industrial fishing, but if we want to earn some money, we can get a job on vacation in the state institutions located in the village.”