Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Dancing on the Tundra

Dancing on the Tundra by Emma Stevens
Published by Emzel Books, RRP $32.99

A memoir of romance and adventure in the wintry wilds of Alaska by New Zealander Emma Stevens

As Dancing on the Tundra opens, Emma is adjusting to ‘city life’ in a small hub city in southwestern Alaska with the man she married after an online romance blossomed into love. Emma’s husband is now the superintendent of nine Eskimo village schools. As bicultural coordinator, Emma flies to remote village schools to work with local teachers, and organises a Spring Festival, uniting villages in a huge dance celebration.

After a particularly perilous flight, the couple decides to relocate to Chevak, a remote Cup’ik Eskimo village in western Alaska where Emma is amazed to be greeted by a Cup’ik elder holding a Māori tokotoko (a carved ceremonial walking stick) who tells her, “We’ve been waiting for you.”

However living in the bush presents many challenges, and along with the demands of managing a busy school, the couple must deal with the daily realities of this isolated environment, where temperatures can plummet to minus eighty below freezing, and access to the outside world depends on the weather. When health crises make living far from emergency medical care a life-threatening risk, Emma and her husband must eventually decide whether to leave their beloved bush Alaska and return to New Zealand.

About the author:
Emma Stevens was born in Christchurch and raised in Whanganui. A graduate of Christchurch Teachers’ College, she was voted Sydney’s Child Teacher of the Year in 1994 while teaching at an alternative school in Sydney, Australia. Emma holds a MEd from Victoria University.

Emma Stevens has taught in New Zealand, Australia, England and the U.S.  Previously married to an African American musician, she attended the Grammy Awards and toured clubs in LA, London and the South of France. Her way of life changed completely when, divorced and in her late forties, she fell in love with the principal of an Inupiaq school in the Arctic Circle, Alaska. The couple married, and Emma spent the next six years working beside her new husband in the icy wilderness of bush Alaska. Emma and her husband now live among orchards and vineyards in Upper Moutere, Nelson where the winters are mild and the summers are long.

Dancing on the Tundra concludes Emma Steven’s trilogy of memoirs which began with Walking on Ice and continued in Nesting on the Nushagak.

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