Kongiganak elders inspire students

Kongiganak elders inspire students
Posted on 09/20/2023
Margaret and Oscar Active address studentsElders Oscar and Margaret Active have lived through many changes and challenges, but they have also preserved and passed on the traditional values and practices of their ancestors. On Sept. 12 they visited Ayagina'ar Elitnaurvik School to share their wisdom and stories with the students, especially those who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

The elders began by explaining the Yup’ik concept of yuuyaraq, which means “the way of being human.” Yuuyaraq is based on the belief that every person has a special purpose and role in life, and that they are connected to their family, community, land, and spirit. The elders emphasized that yuuyaraq requires respect, cooperation, sharing, humility, and spirituality. They also stressed that yuuyaraq is not a fixed or rigid set of rules, but a flexible and adaptable way of living that responds to the changing environment and circumstances.

The elders then told some stories from their own lives and from their ancestors’ history. They recalled how they survived the harsh winters, the epidemics, the boarding schools, and the cultural assimilation. They also remembered how they celebrated the seasons, the ceremonies, the dances, and the games. They explained how they learned from their elders, their peers, and their experiences. They expressed gratitude for the gifts and lessons they received from their ancestors, and for the opportunity to pass them on to the younger generation.

The elders also addressed the issue of suicide, which has been affecting many Yup’ik youth in recent years. They acknowledged the pain and suffering that some students may feel, and they offered their compassion and support. They encouraged the students to seek help from their family, friends, teachers, counselors, or elders when they feel hopeless or overwhelmed. They reminded the students that they are not alone, and that they are valued and loved by their community. They urged the students to find meaning and joy in their lives by following their passions, talents, and dreams.

The elders concluded by inviting the students to join them in a traditional Yup’ik song and dance. They explained that singing and dancing are ways of expressing emotions, honoring ancestors, connecting with spirit, and celebrating life. They said that singing and dancing can also heal wounds, release stress, and restore balance. As they sang and danced together, the elders and the students felt a sense of unity, harmony, and hope.

The visit from Elders Oscar and Margaret Active was a memorable and inspiring event for the students. It was an opportunity to learn about Yup’ik culture and values from authentic sources. It was also a chance to reflect on their own lives and choices from a different perspective. The students gained new insights and skills that can help them cope with challenges and pursue happiness. They also developed a deeper appreciation and respect for their elders, their community, and themselves.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.