Archive for July, 2009

Why did I tranfer to Gallaudet?

July 8, 2009

As a child I always had a difficult time being able to hear and my mom always called it selective hearing. I learned early on to hide my hearing loss by sitting close to the teacher and learning to read lips very well. I chose to hide my hearing loss because I didn’t want to be different. Even though this was a couple years after Deaf President Now and the ADA laws were just being passed people still had the mentality of Deaf and Dumb. Children can be cruel enough without discovering that you have a hearing problem. I was pretty successful until I got to college and found that sitting close to the professor became more and more difficult because those seats would fill up fast. So I began taking on-line classes which call for very little social interaction and little to no lip reading of the professor. One day while I was working at a Red Lobster in Saint Augustine, Florida I was introduced to this beautiful language known as American Sign Language (ASL). I was so intrigued yet I felt kind of stupid. We got people in all the time who were Deaf but the only form of communication methods we had were pen and paper. I began taking every opportunity I could to learn about the language and culture behind ASL: learning signs from a co-worker who has a sister who is Deaf, picking up books from my local Barnes & Nobles and searching the Internet for helpful websites. I was ecstatic when I found out that my college was offering ASL classes. I immediately enrolled! Never before had I felt so comfortable in a classroom. I began to open up. My family noticed how passionate I was about my ASL classes. My mom says that even as a child I had wanted to learn. It was the first class I had actually taken on campus in years. Towards the middle of the class I started researching Deaf Education and what schools provided the best programs. I already knew that I wanted to major in Education but was having difficulty finding a concentration. I had heard about Gallaudet even before ASL courses but had no idea what it was all about. My state had several good schools including Flagler College which works in connection with the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB) but none of the schools I researched were quite like Gallaudet. Gallaudet was a school truly for people like me. People who were Deaf or Hard of Hearing but the school also accepted hearing students who understood Deaf culture and wanted to know more about it. I knew Gallaudet was the school for me. A school where I no longer had to struggle to hear anyone or fully rely on lip reading. A school where I could be immersed in ASL and learn more about the Deaf culture I missed out on for over 22 years of my life.

This summer I get the opportunity to come and even further my ASL knownledge and this Fall I start classes. I plan to major in ASL/English (dual degree) and Elementary Education with a minor in Deaf Studies. I would like to provide students of all ages; Deaf, Hard of Hearing or even Hearing with the opportunity I never had. The chance to get the best education regardless of the students hearing status. If there is anything I have learned on this quest to find myself and figure out what I want to do in life it is that in the words of Gallaudet’s 1st Deaf President, I. King Jordan…”Deaf People Can Do Anything Except Hear” and really with the advancement of technology, Deaf People Can Do ANYTHING!!!

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What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Conservatives and Liberals Are Almost As Similar As They Are Different

July 8, 2009

Politics: Conservatives and Liberals Are Almost As Similar As They Are Different

Some things I learned at Gallaudet are the product of living in the nation’s political capitol, Washington, DC, and from attending a liberal-minded university. Before moving to DC, I had never been involved with politics. I knew we had three branches of government, two major political parties, and I knew that, at the time, George W. Bush was President, Dick Cheney was Vice President, and Condoleezza Rice was the Secretary of State. That was the extent of all my knowledge of politics. Seriously.

Thankfully, I had a friend in DC who was a political science major who was working for the White House. In order to keep up with his stories every weekend when we would get together for sight-seeing trips or for church, I had to learn more than who the top three political leaders were in the United States. I learned about several Senators and Congresspeople, who were some of the major foreign political leaders, who was on the White House staff, how politics is REALLY run, what policies were being considered or put into place, how elections are run, what each political party stood for, what each upcoming candidates stood for, and what these people who are running our government were really like in person.

It was a great opportunity for me. While I learned all of these facts, I was also learning something about myself: what I believed and stood for and what kind of persecution and oppression I was going to experience as a result of these beliefs.

Since I was learning all of this in DC, my first encounters with others of opposing (and similar) views obviously took place at GallaudetUniversity. I have said before that I am a Conservative Independent. Because of what I believe (both politically and about Jesus Christ), teachers, friends, and acquaintances have called me closed-minded, fanatic, discriminatory, egotistical, brain-washed, un-educated, and stupid.

“Why?” I ask. 

I have firm beliefs about who I am and what I stand for. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I believe what the Bible teaches is true and life-changing. My beliefs are my own. I make my own decisions. I have all kinds of friends of different races and walks of life who I love and care about, but who know that, because of what I believe in the Bible, I cannot approve of some of their actions. We spend time together and have fun anyway! I am not un-educated. I have a high school diploma, an Associate’s Degree, and I am working towards my BA Degree. I am not stupid. I had a 3.9 GPA in high school, a 3.89 GPA (4.0 in my major courses) in junior college, and I have a 3.96 GPA at my current four-year university. So why do people accuse me of and ridicule me for something that I am not?

What people do not realize is that most everyone is just like me. They are closed-minded fanatics who “don’t accept other’s ideas or points of view” and they have their own firm beliefs. They may not believe the same things I do and they may have a different view on how to handle an issue, but just as I firmly believe what I believe, so do liberals and moderates believe what they believe. They are not going to easily change their minds about what they are passionate about and believe is true and neither am I. They say that I do not accept their point of view and that I am discriminating against others because of it. Just look at what they are saying! Neither are they accepting my point of view. Does that mean that they are discriminating against me?

I think that we have lost sight of the fact that we live in a free country–a democracy–where we can hold any point of view and not be persecuted for it by others or by our government. We are all as similar as we are different. We all have a faith and certain beliefs that we hold dear. It just may not be the same as someone else’s. You may be a Christian, an Atheist, an Agnostic, a Muslim, a Hindu, or from any other religion. You may be democratic, republican, independent, green, constitutionalist, libertarian, or of any other political party.  We can still respect each other no matter what.

Now, respecting one another and compromising are two different things. You can still keep your beliefs and faith without disrespecting someone else and compromising yourself. For example, I wrote in a History paper that Christians (and consequently, myself) believe that there is one way to heaven and that way is through Jesus Christ. My professor then told me that, by saying that, I was being egotistical. He said that there is no such thing as absolutes and I had no right to say that there is one way to heaven.

I almost wanted to ask him if he was absolutely sure about that.

Instead, I told him that for me to say that I did not believe that Jesus was the only way, I would be denying a foundational belief of mine and could not be a Follower of Jesus Christ as a result. Why would anyone tell me to deny my faith and never say that Jesus is the only way? Would he have told a Muslim that Allah and Muhammad could not be the only way?  Would he have said something similar to someone of another religion? No, I do not believe that he would have. 

I know that I would never tell a person to deny what they believe. I may try to show a person the love of Christ. I may try to convince them that their only Savior is Jesus Christ. However, it is up to that person (not me) to either continue believing what they believe or to allow the Holy Spirit to change their lives. Personally, I believe that people of other faiths are lost. I disagree with them on what is true because my standard for truth is the Bible. But, in the same way, they think that I am just as lost as I believe that they are! I may try to “convert” them out of love and fear for what I believe will happen to them if they do not trust Jesus as their only Savior, but they are going to try just as hard to “convert” me!

Am I wrong for doing the same thing as everyone else? My teacher tried to convert me into believing that there are no absolutes. Does this mean that others can try to convert each other (and me) and use arguments from their perspectives and beliefs, but I cannot? It is just something to think about.

We are all more similar than we are different. We just go around magnifying and celebrating our differences and uniqueness when we should be focusing on what makes us the most alike, and consequently, what brings us together. We all have a void inside of us that we need and try to fill. Some turn to God to fill their hearts and lives, others try to fill their lives with good works, money, power, Buddha, Muhammad, or any other number of entities and things.

As a result, people make decisions and take stances on political agendas that support their beliefs and treasures. So, while we all have differing political views and religious beliefs, we should focus on the fact that we all have political views and religious beliefs period. It does not matter that they are different. We can hold onto our beliefs and still respect each other. Conservative or Liberal, it does not matter. We are almost as similar as we are different and that is all that matters.

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Language Emergence

July 8, 2009

Some Questions on Language Emergence: How did Sign Languages Originate?

In the ASL 403: Communication in Gestures course I took under Dr. Mike Kemp, I had the opportunity to learn about language emergence. I had never studied the topic before and, through our Discussion Board conversations with Dr. Kemp and the other students, I was able to discover a whole new controversial realm of language that I had no idea existed.

I suppose that language is one of the many everyday things that we take for granted. I mean, how many times have you been talking then suddenly stopped and thought, “Wow, I am using language. I have the God-given ability to communicate my thoughts and ideas to others. How am I able to do that?” 

Let’s just go ahead and say “never.”

I had never thought about what communication is or how we do it. However, it is fascinating when you start to think about it.

Being a Christian, I believe in subjecting science to the Bible instead of subjecting the Bible to science because, no matter how smart we think we are or how much much research we do, we always can make mistakes and we later find out that we were wrong and the Bible was right all along. I am telling you this ahead of time so that you understand how I am going to lead this discussion. If you do not like reading things from a Biblical worldview, then please do not feel like you have to subject yourself to reading this. However, if you are open to asking questions and thinking of language in a whole new way by analyzing some of these ideas and thoughts on your own, then read on!

Dr. Kemp said that, in our Gestures class, “we [were] observing a ‘new language’ emerging from our participation.” That got me to thinking. Can people create their own language? I had always believed that language is God-created. I still believe that. But now I had to think about how language develops, emerges, changes, is learned, and how it is passed on from generation to generation. I know that God gives us the innateability to acquire language and use language. It is how we communicate. Without it, we could not have relationships witheach other, or more importantly, with God.

What made this subject more difficult to tackle, however, was that I already knew how spoken language(s) originated, but I knew nothing about how sign languages are created. So, to figure out how sign language(s) emerge, I had to go back to the beginning–the very beginning.

I knew that, in the beginning of time, there was one common (spoken) language. I was not sure how sign language fit into that, but I knew that there had to be Deaf people around during that time, so I assumed that there was one sign language as well. The Bible says in Genesis 11:1, “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.”

This verse is supported by biological, Biblical, and linguistic evidence. Biologically speaking, humans emerged from one location: somewhere around the Ethiopia/northern Africa region. Scientists say that the oldest human fossils were found in Ethiopia. They say that these fossils support DNA and molecular evidence. In my Biology class’ textbook, I read that studies of mitochondrial DNA (maternally inherited) show that “all living humans inherited their mitochondrial DNA from a common ancestral woman” (pg. 405, Biology: Concepts and Connections, 5th Ed., Campbell, Reece, Taylor, and Simon, 2008). Tracing the mutations of the Y Chromosome (paternally inherited) and comparing them from “males of various geographic regions, researchers were able to infer divergence from a common African ancestor” (pg. 405, Biology: Concepts and Connections, 5th Ed., 2008).

I would agree withscientists on the point that mitochondrial DNA came from one woman and that the Y Chromosome points to one common ancestor. I believe those ancestors to be Adam and Eve. The only thing that I disagree with is that I think they may be a few miles off of the exact starting place.  The Bible pinpoints it as being “a garden in the east, in Eden” (Gen. 2:8) where “A river…flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The…Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah….The Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The…Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the…Euphrates” (Gen. 2:10-14). Of course, no one died in the Garden of Eden because Adam and Eve were kicked out after they ate the fruit, so there would not be any “oldest human fossils” there, which still does not disprove what the Bible says.

Linguistically speaking, I learned in Linguistics 263 taught by Dr. Susan Mather, that languages begin with complex rules and syntax and, as time passes, that languages become more simple (or efficient may be a better word). This makes sense if you believe that God created language (since He is a Higher Being, He can create complex languages out of nothing). Then, over time, we would simplify the language (since that’s a trademark of a healthy language–one that is constantly changing and becoming more efficient over time). From an evolutionary perspective however, this is contrary and detrimental to the idea of the cave-man-to-intelligent-man theory since Evolutionists believe that we started out with grunts and groans and slowly created a more complex language.

All of these studies show that language originated from one place, one time, and one couple–one man and one woman. It would make sense to assume that two people would only need one language to communicate with one another. They would have passed this one language to their children and so on. There would have been no need for other languages (though there could have been other dialects of the same language, but they would have been able to understand each other anyways). With that in mind, I came to the part where this one language multiplied into many languages.

I also know that at the Tower of Babel, “the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth (Genesis 11:9).” At this point, God created several/many different languages and their complexity. The people could not have been working on the Tower of Babel and then suddenly, at the same time, created their own languages. God did it. Then, not only did He create different languages and cause the people to be unable to communicate with each other, but He also “scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” If there were not dialects before this point, there would be now. As people moved to distant regions, they would encounter different climates and environments, which would call for more specialized vocabulary, making their languages more unique, differentiated, and unintelligible to others of other dialects and languages.

Now, I am getting to the part that has left me perplexed. Since the Bible does not mention sign language, I am left to wonder whether God confused the languages of the Deaf people, too. I am sure that He did. However, even if God did create different signed languages to prevent the Deaf people from working together to build the Tower, just as He had done with the hearing people and their spoken language, then I am faced with another issue.

After the Tower of Babel, people moved to other parts of the world instead of congregating in one common location. This would have possibly isolated some Deaf people, who, if they had no Deaf children to pass on their language, would have been the first and last to use such a God-given, complex language. Then, suppose a few generations later, another Deaf child is born in that community and there are no other Deaf people to teach him/her sign language. How will that child communicate? Could they ever develop their own communication system or language to use to interact with those around them?

That was and is my dilemma. In my Communication in Gestures course, I was beginning to see that, out of need and through the community of our classmates and professor, we were slowly developing a communication system that may very well have evolved into a language all its own just as this lone Deafchild may have been able develop a communication system and possibly a language with his/her family and neighbors. One of the major hindrancesI have with believing that a complex sign language (or spoken language for that matter) can be created by humans alone is that, for example, in my class, everyone already knew at least two languages (ASL and English) and some even knew a third and fourth language (Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese Sign Language, and Mandarin Chinese were some of them).

Could a person with no linguistic background create a language complete with complex grammar and syntax? We had a starting place. We adopted a grammar similar to ASL and English. We used many of the same classifiers as is in ASL. If we did not already have that lexicon (limited and defined constraints for handshapesand movements, etc. that were acceptable within our community) to begin with, could we have still gestured with each other to the point of creating a language?

Studies show that babies are born with the capacity to learn language. Obviously, humans are also born with a need to communicate. However, that does not mean that humans can create language out of that need. This just shows that we can learn and use whatever language we are exposed to.

Before this class, I thought a man-made language was impossible. I do still believe that God created all spoken languages. But the Bible never mentions sign language, so I am left to contemplate whether it is truly possible for us to develop language within our small community apart from God’s work. Even if it is possible, it would not be completely apart from God’s handiwork because God created our minds to be able to learn language and use it.

 *In honor of the late Dr. Mike Kemp*

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Mime and Gesture Vs. Sign

July 8, 2009

Mime and Gesture Verses Sign

I learned about the differences between mime, gesture, and sign in my ASL 403: Communication in Gestures course taught by Dr. Mike Kemp. It was quite possibly the best class I have had at Gallaudet. Dr. Kemp had a unique way of teaching. One test. One paper. Complete immersion.

I learned things in his class that I do not think that I would have ever learned in any other course. If I had been in any other class, I would have read about the subject, written about the subject, and discussed the subject, but I would never have learned the subject as well as I did without those things.

Dr. Kemp had three rules in his classroom, no mouthing, no signing, and no fingerspelling. Everything had to be gestured or, as a last resort, written on the marker board with as few words as possible. We started out with easy gestures: how to introduce ourselves, describe people and things, and give simple directions. Then, we moved on to harder, more complex gestures where we discussed abstract ideas, politics, religion, and many other topics without ever using a single sign.

It is not as easy as it seems, but it is well worth learning. I encourage anyone learning ASL to take a Visual Gestural Communication course. It helps you to feel more comfortable moving your face and body and helps you to learn how to acquire new vocabulary through contextualization. It also helps you to learn how to adapt to those you meet who do not use the same signs or sign language that you do.

One day, he asked us about mime and gesture. How were they different? None of us really knew, so he proceeded to show us. He never lectured on the subject or gave us a definition. He simply gave us an example. This example has stuck with me and helped me better understand what mime, gesture, and sign really are and how and when they should be used.

He made up a story about a flat tire and a man changing it on the side of the road. For the first example, he moved around the room, stepping to the side as he got out of the car, walking around the length of the invisible car to the trunk, putting his arms around the invisible spare, and kneeling down to remove the old tire. Everything was life-sized. The size of objects and his actions were all done as though he was actually changing a flat–you could have inserted a real car there and he would have actually changed a tire.

For his second example, he stood in one place. All he did was move his hands and body just enough to give us the picture of him changing a tire. He never used any signs. He only used classifier-like handshapes to show parts of the car and his actions. Everything was on a smaller scale. No real car could have been inserted there. This type of rendition was more like storytelling while the previous example had been more along the lines of an actor acting without props.

Then, he gestured, “The first example is mime. The second example is gesture.”

It made sense. It clicked. I finally realized how they were all different.

Mime is like acting. Everything is life-sized and real-world. Anyone can understand it. You can use mime for entertainment purposes or if gesturing is not enough to get your point across. You can walk around the room or stage. You can kneel, jump, walk, sit, or do any other action because it is just like acting. You can also use some props if you want.

Gesture is like storytelling. It does not use any signs from a specific language, so most anyone can understand it. It brings less attention to yourself if you are trying to communicate with someone who does not know ASL and it comes in handy for events where people from different countries will be present together. It is more time efficient than mime is. You stand in one place and your hand and body movements are “smaller.” You use classifiers (handshapes that resemble how objects look) instead of acting. You do not use props. It is the closest communication form to sign language.

Sign Language uses some of the same rules as gesture. You typically stand in one place and almost nothing is referred to in life-size, real-world ways. It will have more abstract signs than gesture and not everyone will understand it–it will only be understood by its own community. It will have a complete and complex grammar. It can introduce new vocabulary and discuss difficult topics more easily because it is even more time efficient than gesture is. Signs can have more than one meaning whereas most gestures have only one meaning. Sign Language also changes over time as people use or don’t use certain signs.

This was probably the most fascinating thing that I learned in Dr. Kemp’s class. I can now see mime, gesture, and sign and know the difference. He taught me that and it has stuck with me. I will never forget the valuable lessons he gave us in his Gestures in Communication class.

*In honor of the late Dr. Mike Kemp*

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Crab Theory

July 8, 2009

Crab Theory

This is an interesting topic. Being a hearing person though, I will not get into it with too much detail. Instead, I will let you read a blog by one of my favorite authors, Christopher Jon Heuer.

In summary, the crab theory is based on the metaphor of what happens when you put several crabs together in a bucket. The crabs crawl over each other, trying to get out of the bucket, and in the process, none of them escape because they keep pulling each other back down.

This is something that many communities struggle with, including the Deaf community. For a long time, Deafpeople have provided each other with a network of support and mutual understanding and commitment. They still do. However, back when it was more difficult for Deaf people to become successful due to discrimination, an invisible standard–a status quo–was established. Anyone who then stepped outside of the status quo immediately became a product of  “the crab theory.”

So, for example, if someone decided that they wanted to work somewhere other than in printing or for the post office, they were then labeled “HEARING-MINDED.” HEARING-MINDED is a sign that means “think like a person who is not like us.” That is how the crab theory goes.

So, with this in mind, read Heuer’s blog here to get a better idea of what the crab theory is and how we can overcome it: http://www.deafdc.com/blog/chris-heuer/2007-05-09/overcoming-crab-theory/  (just as a heads up for those of you who are more literally-minded, he is not being serious when he is giving these tips. These “maneuvers” are generalizations made about the Deaf community that are meant to be funny). Enjoy!

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Audism

July 8, 2009

I know that I have talked about this term before in my writings. It is becoming a more and more popular subject. I recommend using caution though when getting into issues of discrimination. Discrimination is a two-way street, but oftentimes, you will find that fewer and fewer people are believing in the existence of reverse discrimination.

That warning out of the way, here is a simple definition of audism:

Audism is the act of someone discriminating based on a person’s hearing status.

Think about it. This could go either way. A hearing person can discriminate against a Deaf person because they are deaf and a Deaf person can discriminate against a hearing person because they can hear.

All discrimination is bad. Discriminating because of a person’s hearing status is no different. However, you will find that most people only look at this definition one way. I encourage you not to do that. I encourage you to view each other as equals. We are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We are all made alike. Learn from each other: learn about other languages, cultures, and communities. Deaf people and hearing people alike have a lot to offer one another. Do not let audism get in the way of that.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'” Genesis 1:27-28, NIV

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: “deaf” Verses “Deaf”

July 8, 2009

For my second series of blogs, I want to share some of the things I have learned while attending Gallaudet University.

So, what have I learned at Gallaudet?

Well, I have learned many things, so to narrow such a broad topic, I want to focus on the things that I have learned that I would have never learned anywhere else–things that have enlightened my views about the world, culture, and identity, especially concerning the Deaf community. So, here goes!

“d”eaf Verses “D”eaf

Okay, so this one I learned both at Gallaudet and from reading books about Deaf Culture, but it is nevertheless an important concept to grasp. I do not want to get into the whole who-is-“D”eaf-and-who-is-“d”eaf controversy, but I do want to give you a general idea of what these two terms mean.

To begin with, anyone can be “d”eaf: your grandmother, a neighbor, a person who signs, a person who does not sign, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, and Bill Clinton. These people are characterized as being deaf because they have a hearing loss. They may or may not have a hearing aid or cochlear implant and they may or may not sign, fingerspell, or lipread. They do not have their own culture, language, or community based on their hearing loss. In most cases, these people see themselves as handicapped and wish that they were hearing (able to hear) and so they try to “fix” themselves with technology.

Being “D”eaf is different. “Deaf” means that someone is a specific kind of person with a hearing loss. They use sign language (ASL in the United States) as their primary means of communication, they are actively involved with the Deaf community, they pass on their native language to others, they participate in Deaf culture, and they are proud of their deafness. They do not see  themselves as handicapped or disabled, and in most cases, they do not wish to be hearing (though some might just so that they can avoid all the discrimmination they get sometimes).

They have no desire to be “fixed” though, I believe, that there is more of a movement of acceptance for those who do want a hearing aid or CI if it benefits them somewhat. Notice that I said “benefit.” Hearing aids and cochlear implants continue to be a sensitive issue because they are seen as both beneficial (not corrective) and also as an attempt to “fix” something that is not broken.

So, without getting into too much controversy, that is the difference between “deaf” and “Deaf.” And, that is what I’ve learned at Gallaudet.

July 2, 2009

I just wanted to tune you guys in for a halftime report. I cannot believe that its July already. It is only a month away before I go back to Gallaudet early to start working again and begin another academic year. So far, the summer is treating me wonderfully. I visited Alaska and Colorado, but guess what? I’m back in Alaska. It’s lovely here and visiting for two weeks was a big mistake, Alaska is HUGE and you’ll need a month or more to enjoy Alaska. The only thing I am still trying to integrate on Alaskan lifestyle is sleeping soundly at nights. Their sun schedule are way different than the schedule we have here! Their sun goes up until like 3 am! Other than this, it’s all good in Alaska! Lately I’ve been visiting places and places, this weekend I’ll camp out in Homer for the Forth of July!

 

On July 7th, I’ll go back home and pack for Indiana & New York. I plan to visit my family in Indiana and go straight to New York for Camp Mark Seven. After the camp, I’ll go straight to District of Columbia. This summer is very different for me, often I stay in home a lot and spend a lot of time with my family. But this time the summer is so just busy and it cuts down the time I have with my family. It really helps me see how important my family is to me, because often I would wander in those reflecting moment while being away from home; I would think how much I miss the serenity I have around home. The family I have are people who allows me to be completely who I want to be, where I feel it is okay to be a temporary couch potato! I miss the serenity, the calmness, and the joy of being home.

 

Anyways, here are some pictures!

1) The view of Denali which is 6 hours away from where I took the picture! 

2) I held the gun and it was heavy, but nope- I don’t hunt. 

3) This is something I enjoy daily at Alaska- COFFEE!

4) Democracy isn’t something you see too often in Alaska since their gov. is Palin. 

5) Me posing in front of The Sleeping Lady Mountain.