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Teachers-in-training head to New York to talk about Northern culture

Kirsten Murphy
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Oct 22/01) - An exchange program between Nunavut student teachers and a U.S. school gets underway tomorrow with a trip to upstate New York.

NNSL photo

Lucy Mingeriak, left, and Rita Akearok model the jackets, caps, pens and pins going to New York this week. - Kirsten Murphy/NNSL photo

The first stop is Jamestown Community College. The seven Nunavummiut will bring textbooks to life by introducing traditional Inuit knowledge to American students of an arctic studies class.

The four-year tradition is led by Nunatta Arctic College's teacher education instructors Noel McDermott and Uvinik Qamaniq. The 10-day trip with five students is a working holiday in a decidedly blue-collar town.

"It's an atypical town from what you see on television. It's small, fairly run-down, with working-class people doing their best to make ends meet," McDermott said.

Jamestown is 700 kilometres from New York City, whose residents are still trying to cope with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.

Lucy Mingeriak said she's nervous about flying -- always has been, always will be.

The trip's purpose combines cross-border teaching and time allowing, Christmas shopping.

"I know you all want to go to Wal-Mart," McDermott teased prior to their Oct. 23 departure.

Students spent weeks gathering books, a miniature inukshuk or two, qulliqs and amautis for their presentations. Elementary schools are also on their list of places to visit.

For most student teachers, this will be their first time in front of students.

"Presenting gives the students a sense of confidence. It's a new experience to teach non-Inuit and that's a challenge and an achievement," McDermott said.

The five students from second and third year were visibly excited about their trip.

"I'm looking forward to going to a college and see the differences in the way people teach," said Rita Akearok.

Akearok will teach counting from one to 10 in Inuktitut.

Lucy Mingeriak will talk about the role of the inukshuk as a silent communicator. "I'm looking to seeing new students and people," she said.

Students from Jamestown Community College are scheduled to come to Iqaluit in May.