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Fairbanks artist Kes Woodward, known for his brilliantly-colored depictions of the boreal forest and especially its birch trees, shares the story of how he became an artist and what it takes to be successful. The latest installment in the series Creating Alaska.

“I don’t have any inborn facility or skills. It’s all really hard for me. I believe in commitment, hard work, ambition, and ruthlessly making yourself do the best you can and dedicating yourself to doing the best you can at whatever it is you do.”




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David James is an Alaskan author and literary critic whose work has been published by the Anchorage Daily News, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Alaska Dispatch News, and Ester Republic. He is editing a forthcoming anthology of Alaska writing.


A winding path brought Chidozie Menakaya from Lagos, Nigeria, to Fairbanks, Alaska. The latest installment in "Becoming Alaskan."
When I landed back in Fairbanks and walked through those airport doors, I was relieved,” recalled Chidozie Menakaya after returning to Alaska from Lagos, Nigeria. “I thought, ‘What does that mean if Fairbanks gives me relief?’” Then he broke out laughing.

The Literacy Council of Alaska helps immigrants in Fairbanks find their way to work, success, and citizenship.
“In the borough there are over 10 thousand people who don’t speak English as their first language. That’s over 10 percent of our population,” explained Mike Kolasa, the council’s executive director, adding, “Last year we had 175 English language learners students.”