Sharing in life
The cold never bothered her anyway.
Former Montoursville resident Fawn Upright will follow her passion to Alaska this August, where she will serve at least four years as a fourth-grade teacher and missionary.
Upright graduated from Montoursville Area High School in 2001, going on to study music education at Messiah College. After graduating in 2005, she got a job at Ephrata Mennonite School teaching music.
While in college, Upright visited Alaska for the first time, and has returned twice since.
“The first time (she visited) was when I was in college, it was on a three-week cross-cultural trip. For part of the trip, we stayed with a native family for a week and my placement was in Hooper Bay so I was with a Yup’ik Eskimo family for a week,” she said. “It was just really life changing for me to see, even within the United States, what different cultures existed.”
Since that first trip, Upright has felt a particular calling to return to the state.
“I just saw the need for education and just people investing time into the lives of childrens in the villages and it kind of drew me back there,” she said.
To make her journey possible, Upright had to obtain certification in elementary teaching. She took various tests to become licensed as an elementary teacher.
In April, she visited a village school to observe a classroom in preparation for her upcoming job. While there, the area’s pull on her intensified as she saw the children’s needs.
“When I was up there, they just would follow me everywhere. They’re so delightful to be around and they just soak up any kind of attention you give them,” she said.
“Many of these children have never been outside of their village ever. While I was observing in April when I went up, one of the kids there was talking about wolves and foxes in their curriculum, and the teacher mentioned something about sheep being a food source for wolves, and the one boy was like ‘Are sheep real?’ It’s just, we take for granted the knowledge base here, but the things they have experience with are so different from down here,” she said.
Upright hopes to instill some extracurricular programs for the children, as well. She hopes to spread her love of music and athletics while she works there. She hopes to create a volleyball team or organize other indoor athletic activities.
She plans to spread God’s word as she integrates into the society.
“It’s mostly just getting to know people and to live alongside of them and to share in life experiences with them, and share my relationship with Jesus with them,” Upright said of her mission plans. “It’s hard to measure something like that.
“(My plan is) to just live with them and not to hide my light under a bushel. Just to love them as a person, regardless of what they believe, and show them the hope I have within me,” she said.