Monday, October 15, 2007

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Anchorage

I was planning to attend the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Anchorage anyway when I heard about the "Authors to Schools" program being planned by conference organizers. Authors who volunteered to participate would be paired with a school somewhere in Alaska, giving students there the opportunity to hear from a writer. What a great idea!

I was sent to the community of Delta Junction. I was advised it would be a six hour trip, but it took me eight--partly because of rain and clouds and some light snow, mostly because I kept stopping to get out of the car and take in the amazing scenery.

I spent a day each at the local elementary school, middle school, and high school. I met an interesting mixture of kids. Some lived on Fort Greely and had traveled extensively. A few lived far from town and rarely traveled farther than Fairbanks. About 40% of the students were fairly recent immigrants from Russia or the Ukraine. And mixed in were a few Athabascan and African-American students.

Highlights include guiding second graders through a descriptive writing activity that led to some amazing poems, hearing students read their work describing the first snowfall, and facilitating brain-storming sessions that led teens from "I never have any ideas" to a solid outline for a mystery.

But there were so many other highlights as well: walking in the tundra, finding a burly chef in a rural roadhouse who was delighted to make a tofu salad for a visiting vegetarian (me), being taken into the local museum by the mayor, watching swans, driving for hours through such vast was a marvelous trip.

Ann Parker and me, taken at Bouchercon World Mystery Convention.

Katleen Ernst
WWW President Elect

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