This week I am going to check in with a few valley residents currently living elsewhere and give updates on their whereabouts and on-goings. So, here are postcards from …
Eighteen months ago, Methow Valley Elementary school teacher Kelly Weist boarded a jumbo jet for Mumbai, India, where she is now in her second year at the American International School teaching fifth grade. Last December, Jackson, her then 10-year old son, joined her.
The Mumbai school has been a great source of professional growth for Kelly and an eye-opening experience for Jackson. The school is multi-cultural, serving business and government leaders’ families stationed in Mumbai from around the world. It is a technology-rich school and stresses environmental consciousness, both of which Jackson and Kelly have embraced whole-heartedly. In fact, in a recent chat, she noted that paper is hardly used at the school. “My colleagues would be appalled by the paper/copier room at Methow Valley Elementary, where the use of paper is so liberal. Here they are really aware of excess and limit paper use in a conscious effort to mitigate global forest decline.” Jackson has taken full advantage of after-school technology-rich programs like robotics and coding.
Besides school, the twosome has fully embraced the opportunity to participate in Indian culture. Last week marked one of India’s biggest holidays — Diwali, the festival of lights. Kelly noted that it ties in well with other transitional light holidays. As a national five-day holiday, school was closed for celebrations that spread out across the streets. Lighting the night skies symbolizes good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Kelly and Jackson took a tour of one of the slums to see how the poorest segments of the city celebrate with dancing, lights and decor. Leading up to Diwali, people prepare the home with cleaning and decorating. Diwali includes massive gatherings, lighting displays on buildings, fireworks, candle or diya lantern ornamentations, chalk drawings called Rangoli decorations, elaborate dress, and feasts with lots and lots of sweets known as mithai. With eight months left in Kelly’s tenure in India, she’s planning on travelling as much as possible before she returns to the valley, where she’ll bring invaluable experience as teacher.
Remember the Viking send-off for the Viano-Talbert family back in July? Well, I am happy to report that the family has settled in nicely into their seaside village of Henningsvaer, Norway. Local artist Hannah Viano is completing a year-long artist-in-residence, while her husband, Joe Talbert, and son Ely, 11, are getting involved in the community. Ely is attending the local school where he’s played soccer, and been involved in a fundraising campaign to raise money for children in the Congo where he works as a clerk at a local shop manning the till. His wages help raise money for the effort. Joe has been enjoying the vast and spectacular hiking while working remotely for a research lab at UW. And because winter comes early in Norway, the family has already gotten out on skis.
Sixteen-year-old Sadie Halpin has a passion and dedication for ballet. As a former student of LFW dance school here in the valley, Sadie wanted to expand her skill and devotion and moved to Portland last year to pursue her dream, where she is in the second year of a career track program for professional dancers.
Sadie will be performing two lead roles in two performances of the Portland Ballet over Thanksgiving weekend. Her mother Sarah couldn’t be prouder, but misses Sadie terribly. She wasn’t quite ready to send her 15-year old daughter out into the world last year. But, that’s nothing new for Sarah, mom of five, who had to give a farewell to her daughter Emma four years ago who decided to study abroad in Beijing. She’s comforted knowing that Sadie is living with an old family friend while she online schools when not at the studio or onstage.