I’m a teacher in a tiny Alaskan village. My class consists of 8 students and there are no sports teams or after-school clubs – here’s what my life is like.

two small white buildings in the Alaskan bush
The view of Taryn Williams’ house, right, from the school steps.

  • Taryn Williams, 28, is a teacher and freelance writer based in the rural Alaskan Bush.
  • Everything is really close by, but groceries cost more than they do in mainland US.
  • She spends an hour cooking dinner and stays entertained by participating in local customs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One of the greatest benefits of life in the Alaskan Bush is how close everything is.

Taryn Williams
Taryn Williams.

When I lived in Philadelphia, it took me nearly an hour to commute to my school via public transportation.

Here, it takes less than two minutes to walk there. I get to sleep in later and have a slower morning, as there’s no stress that I’ll have to pay for a taxi if I miss the train.

Read more: I moved from Atlanta to a tiny Alaskan village of 270 people. It’s wildly expensive, but I’ve never felt more at home.

There are no coffee shops on my route (or any in a hundred-mile radius). Instead, I make my own chai lattes with chai tea, milk, cinnamon, and spices in a pot on the stove. It’s not quite as convenient as a local shop, but it tastes just as good.

School is different in the Bush, too. Most teachers have multigrade classrooms (think kindergarten to fourth grade or all of middle and high school) and class sizes are generally smaller.

In my current seventh- to twelfth-grade class, I teach 8 students in 5 subjects.

With students in so many different grade levels, there’s a lot more facilitating than there is in larger schools, but my students have also gained an enormous amount of independence because of this.

Since I live so close to school, I’m able to go home for lunch every day, and it’s something I’ve really grown to appreciate.

Last year, my students brought me a puppy they found – there’s a problem with puppy overpopulation in the Bush – and she’s been with me ever since.

white puppy on a mountain in the Alaskan bush
Taryn Williams’ dog, Betty.

My lunch is only 30 minutes, but my house is close enough that I can get there quickly and play with her outside for a few minutes while my food heats up.

There are no local sports clubs students can join, and they can only interact with youth from other places remotely.

I want my students to have the most enjoyable high school experience possible, so I’m always looking for after-school opportunities for them.

Most recently, I facilitated an internship where students learned how to make their own podcast from a Native Alaskan podcaster. I try to find activities that align with my students’ interests and guide my search based on that.

There are no restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, or other ‘traditional’ Western sources of entertainment.

My students often ask me to take walks with them or share a mug of tea after school. They enjoy learning about the other places I’ve lived and what my life was like where I grew up. Often, they accompany me when I take my puppy for a walk down to the local store and post office.

a scenic view of the Alaskan bush
The view of the village from outside Taryn Williams’ home.

The store is small and the prices are higher than you would find elsewhere.

If there’s something that I use frequently – something that others would use as well – they’ll sometimes order it. I usually buy all perishable products there, such as pints of Ben & Jerry’s ($9) and blocks of cheese ($15). I buy orange juice only on special occasions, as it usually costs about $17.

After walking to the store to pick up any groceries or packages, I try to go for a longer hike or run with the puppy.

In the spring and fall, when we have 18 hours of daylight, I try to spend as much time outside as possible. In the winter, we only have a few hours of sun and I tend to stay closer to home – or follow along with Yoga with Adriene videos on my SmartBoard at school.

I usually spend about an hour cooking dinner each night.

I’m a vegetarian and order produce from Full Circle Farm in Washington for all of my meals.

Cooking is one of my greatest joys in life and I’m so grateful to live somewhere where I can dedicate significant time to it each day.

If there’s something going on in town – a gathering for a wedding or a holiday, for example – I always head there and participate in local customs. Most nights, however, I cozy up in my reading nook or play a movie I downloaded on Netflix.

I often spend weekends tagging along on hunting or fishing trips even though I don’t participate, and I’m incredibly grateful to the villagers that have welcomed me into their lives. I’ll take the things I learned from them and from living here with me wherever I go next.

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Only half of rural voters know that Democrats voted to send them stimulus checks, new poll finds

biden stimulus hurdles
President Joe Biden.

  • A poll conducted by a rural super PAC found only half of rural voters credit Democrats with stimulus checks.
  • This is notable given that not a single Republican voted for Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus.
  • A persistent feature of American politics is voters’ failure to understand government’s role in their lives.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Americans have so far received three stimulus checks. The first two were distributed under President Donald Trump’s watch and not a single Republican voted for the third round, and yet, only half of rural voters are giving Democrats the credit.

A poll conducted by Rural Objective PAC – a super PAC that works to build support for Democrats in rural areas – found that 50% of voters in rural areas associate providing COVID-19 stimulus checks directly to American families with the Democratic Party, while 32% associated the payments with Republicans, 11% with neither party, and 7% weren’t sure.

“We’re not connecting with these voters, even if we have great policy,” JD Scholten, the executive director of the Rural Objective PAC, told Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman of The Washington Post, which previously reported on the poll’s findings.

The poll surveyed 2,149 voters in nine battleground states – Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin – and while 68% of those voters support stimulus checks, it’s clear that Democrats aren’t getting credit for a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The majority of rural voters did associate Democrats with extended unemployment benefits and state aid, though, and even as Democrats are calling for recurring stimulus aid, voters are not associating the already provided aid with Democrats. Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan passed using budget reconciliation without a single Republican voting for the plan, which included $1,200 checks.

It’s true that the first two checks occurred under Trump, since he signed a $1,400 check and a $600 check into law as part of his pandemic aid efforts, although he signed both of those while Democrats controlled the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Some Democratic lawmakers are also calling to make stimulus checks permanent – something that has received broad support from both Republican and Democratic voters given that it would cut the number of Americans in poverty in 2021 from 44 million to 16 million.

Twenty-one Democratic senators urged Biden in a letter to include recurring direct payments in his $4 trillion infrastructure plan and said that “a single direct payment will not last long for most families, and we are worried about the cliff facing unemployed workers when the unemployment insurance extensions expire on September 6.”

But voters not knowing who to credit for certain policies is nothing new. When former President Barack Obama was attempting to reform the healthcare system over a decade ago, many voters don’t want the government to interfere with their Medicare when Medicare is, in fact, a government-run program.

“I got a letter the other day from a woman. She said, ‘I don’t want government-run health care. I don’t want socialized medicine. And don’t touch my Medicare,'” President Barack Obama said at an AARP-hosted town hall on healthcare in 2009. “I wanted to say, you know, that’s what Medicare is: a government-run health care plan that people are very happy with.”

The Washington Post separately reported in 2009 that a rural voter told South Carolina Rep. Robert Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” to which Inglis had to explain to the voter that his healthcare was provided by the government.

As Scholten told the Post, if there’s one thing that Democrats could use to win support of rural America, it would be direct payments.

“This was one of the biggest investments we’ve seen in rural America since the New Deal,” Scholten told Sargent and Waldman. “It’s good policy. It should be good politics, too, but right now Democrats aren’t taking advantage of it.”

Read the original article on Business Insider