Alaskan Villagers Prepare for Trip of A Lifetime

A school teacher in the Alaskan Bush encourages her k-12 students to dream BIG; planning a field trip to the lower 48. A film crew from Santa Barbara, California will document the historic journey. Please visit this site for frequent updates on their progress.

A Dream Come True

Club 33 was such a treat

Monday, June 18, 2012

Alaska Dreams won two Emmy's, one for editing and the other for a TV special focusing on education from NATAS, Pacific South West Chapter. Congratulations Michael Warner, from Pacific Sun Productions

"Alaska Dreams" won two Emmy's, one for editing and the other for a TV special focusing on education from NATAS, Pacific South West Chapter! Congratulations Michael Warner, from Pacif ic Sun Productions!  Well deserved!   This is an inspirational story of 12 Alaskan students and their teachers from deep in the Alaskan Bush, who leave their native homeland for the first time. The academic field trip to Southern California is an eye opening adventure, and a dream come true for the students, who worked for three years to raise the money needed to make the trip. This trailer was produced by Pacific Sun Productions, and directed by Michael Warner to help raise funds for the feature length documentary following this incredible journey.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Helping Alaska kids succeed is a moral choice, not a political one

Helping Alaska kids succeed is a moral choice, not a political one
The first article I read, by the newspaper's editor, declares that helping these kids is a moral choice, sharing about the huge difficulties for these kids to succeed in life, so a trip like this is so important for their education and self confidence. The editor has seen the deep needs of the native youth and feels that they are worth helping. He says: A trip like the one the Stony River students are trying to embark on could give a little hope after a long winter, a little more knowledge about the world beyond their village. That they matter, too, that this state, and country, needs them to stay alive. (Wow!)

He believes this so strongly that they held a fund raising event in Anchorage last month. Several of the kids (Mary, Nacole, Brittany and Tyrel) were invited to share about their California trip.

The second article that I read (actually written earlier) tells about the trip for which the Stony River school kids are fundraising. It's entitled:

California dreams realized, rural Alaska students seek help to reach Washington, DC

The article tells about their trip to California last May and their efforts to raise money for going to DC. It includes the link to the movie trailer made about the the Gusty Michael School kids by Michael Warner, and tells more about the trip planned to DC. If you haven't seen it yet, do!
Those of us who got to spend time with these kids/teens while they were here so enjoyed them! They are really neat kids!

In fading regions, Stony River among rural schools struggling to survive

The third article tells about how the village communities are struggling to stay alive. When the village school closes,
it greatly impacts the viability of a village. This article includes a wonderful set of photos about the children in their school.
The decision regarding the Stony River school will be made in this next week.

All of the articles include a link to where donations can be given/sent. Only $10,000 remains to be raised!
The trip is to begin at the end of this month, so please, if you are considering giving a gift, do so soon! And Thank you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Showing of the Alaska Dreams Documentary in Anchorage

Hello, everyone! Michael Warner, producer of Alaska Dreams, and also my husband, is traveling to Anchorage as I write this update. He is in Anchorage to be present for a showing of his documentary Alaska Dreams, to help raise money for the kids upcoming trip to Washington DC in May. Michael, left packed with camera bags, shooting equipment, and lots of letters from pen pals in Santa Barbara. He was very excited to once again step out in faith and allow God to use him and his gifts. Michael Warner is going to go to DC with the group and needs to raise $20,000. The Alaska Dreams documentary has been an incredible tool for letting people know about the original trip and beyond that, the need for Alaska native children, in general to be invited on such trips. It appears that connecting kids there with friends here can result in postive change long term! He can be reached at this email address:

Here is verbedum the letter Debi Rubera wrote Michael recently:

My dear, Mr Warner:

I cannot begin to tell you the impact your documentary, Alaska Dreams Travel Far, has had on our project, Alaska Dreams, and the lives it has impacted. Your film has become the corner stone of the current fundraising effort for the students at Gusty Michael School and the fundraising efforts for three schools’ travel the following year. Students who have never been exposed to city life stand little chance of making the adjustment when it comes to college, little chance of finding out what opportunities await one will-ing to try hard and venture beyond the restrictions of isolated village boundaries, little chance of hoping for a better future.

Alaska Dreams Travel Far has allowed funders to visualize where these students come from and the impact travel has on subsistence-level students, as well as some of the challenges that face anyone trying to raise money in a small Native Alaskan village. You and your crew caught the heart and soul of our project and tell the compelling story that helps those with funds understand the urgent need and incredible results.If it were not for this film, I would have stood no chance of getting my students out into the cities for a second year in a row. This critical need came as our student population dwindled below state mandated levels so that our school is in danger of closing next year. My letters for support were falling on deaf ears until I was able to get Alaska Dreams into funders’ hands. Now, our plight is being passed from one potential donor to another. Alaska Dreams continues to make dreams come true for students outside of the mainstream.

Very gratefully,

Debi Rubera

Here is a link to the most recent story about the kids and the screening of Alaska Dreams from Alaska

Here is a link to the most recent story about the kids and the screening from Alaska Dispatch. Helping Alaska kids succeed is a moral choice, not a political one. The author of the articles about the Stony River kids shares in page two of this article that he's gotten unhappy comments from people from his first article. He says, "Many have generously donated and have been supporting the effort. For that, thanks so much. However, it seems whenever we’ve tried to promote this particular effort, the comment boards light up with negativity. “Why should we pay for these kids to go on a field trip? Why are they so special?” is the general tone of some. And another: “Why don’t Alaska Native corporations pay for them?” And yet another: “What are the Natives going to do for me?”Reading these comments has been one of the more eye-opening experiences I’ve had since launching Alaska Dispatch. The director (Michael Warner from Pacific Sun Productions) who chronicled the Stony River field trip last year to South California says we should talk about the high rates of teen suicide in rural Alaska and how field trips expose kids who don’t always see a lot of hope in their own communities to a larger world – that there are opportunities beyond the villages.I think he is right. The author then goes on to tell of his own experience with Alaska native teens and suicide. I want you to know that this is my concern too. I realize this is a heavy topic, so I have steered away from it until now, but I am glad he brought this up because you need to know that it is something that is a deep concern for many adults in Alaska, both white and native, because of the high rates of native teen and young adult suicide in Alaska. I believe that helping kids succeed in this way will make an incredible life long positive change for them because Debi has modeled how to work to make dreams come true against all odds and because our help tells the children: "We think you are valuable! We care about you! We're cheering for you. " These trips are for more than 'fun' or even 'educational.'It's a life line, don't you see?!