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Teaching us to be better humans and Alaskans, one immigrant at a time

After five years, the Becoming Alaskan series about immigrants in Fairbanks has drawn to a close. I'll be archiving all the articles on my website this fall and exploring book possibilities. Meanwhile here's the farewell column.

"Becoming Alaskan has easily been the most rewarding writing project I’ve ever undertaken. To have so many people share their life stories and entrust me to bring them to print has been one of the highest honors of my life. Whittling each of those stories down to the 1,000 words I was allotted has been one of my hardest writing challenges. Behind every story there have been details, quotes and contextual information that I simply couldn’t squeeze in. No person’s life can be told in a newspaper article, but hopefully my summaries have captured part of the essence of each person I’ve profiled."

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About

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


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.”
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.