Interns Learn and Embrace Culture During Summer Internship

By RAISE Youth Advisor Shirley Tuzroyluke and
RAISE Intern Supervisor Bonesha Christy

The RAISE Program, Southcentral Foundation’s internship program, follows a curriculum that provides workforce development, life skills, a credited writing course, and cultural activities designed for Alaska Native and American Indian youth.

This year, the RAISE Program hosted virtual courses and in-person cultural and group activities that were held indoors and outdoors when possible. SCF’s goal is to provide interns with the time to develop their identities, connect with others within their communities, and develop a cultural understanding that they will carry with them into their futures. The RAISE summer is filled with fun and introspective cultural activities that include making kuspuks, sewing fur mittens, beading earrings, storytelling, and learning about Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian history.
Cultural awareness and tradition play important roles in helping youth develop a positive sense of identity and build self-esteem. The RAISE Program hopes interns’ experiences will result in awareness of their own unique heritages and provide the opportunity to honor their heritages and the lands from which their families lived.

The program facilitates situations where interns can interact with others of varying heritages and learn similarities in values, unique art styles, and ways of perceiving the world. There is a long-standing recognition within the RAISE Program that there are many aspects of culture, such as cultural values, ways of communicating and storytelling, transferring knowledge of descendancy, the arts, and subsistence.
Unique heritages within Alaska come from thousands of years of habitation of the land, and much of Alaska’s heritage involves living in reciprocity and respect to the natural world. The program creates an environment for interns to be able to honor the rich Indigenous heritages of the Alaska Native and American Indian people.

SCF’s RAISE program provides opportunities for on-the-job work experience in the context of Alaska Native cultural values. Designed to develop leadership skills in Alaska Native and American Indian youth 14–19 years old, RAISE offers three separate sessions per year: summer, winter, and graduate programs. For more information about the program, call (907) 729-5015.