A long way from Kansas – Leah Moss

via @ leah.jane06 on instagram / Leah Moss

via @ leah.jane06 on instagram / Leah Moss


From crab potting to grocery shopping, South Lakes Junior Leah Moss, lived in Alaska her whole life, until moving to Reston, Virginia in August 2023. Leah and her immediate family moved to be closer to relatives in the area and to give Leah more opportunities at school and more life experiences. Though she has begun to adjust to city life and school, the changes to both her day-to-day routine but her social-cultural upbringings as well have been drastic. 

Not only is the natural geography of Alaska extremely different, but the urban environment as well—living in Alaska, Leah reminisces, was much more communal. Her hometown, Hoonah Alaska, is considerably smaller than Reston, being home to only one supermarket and just under 1,000 citizens. Leah notes a major social difference she’s observed is “there, everyone was just like family. People would always talk and check up on you.” Here, with a total population of over 60,000, it is harder to know the people and have the same personal connections with everyone in town. School, which goes K-12 in Alaska, was the same as far as the small population goes, only hosting around 100 students. 


Leah’s everyday lifestyle has also been subject to change upon her move. “My life [in Alaska] was… very different. Mostly because there we would gather our food or we would hunt for our food—here we just [drive over] to a store”, though not entirely arduous, Leah shares that coming to such a metropolized city after a lifetime of self sufficiency was hard on her in the beginning. Her routine back in Alaska went along the lines of “get up, help my dad bring wood from the woodshed up into the house—stack wood maybe, get the fire going, get my school supplies ready, eat breakfast, go to school. After school I’d probably go to the park, which is just 5 minutes away, or [my friends and I would] go to the teen center—which is where everyone would hang out.” 

Though her life a year ago was very different from her life today, Leah says she’s settled in comfortably and likes living here. Her schedule in Reston, as expected, has been less centered around basic chores, allowing her time to focus on other aspects of her life. Now Leah attends classes and electives not available to her before her move. She is also, as expected, gaining new experiences she would not have had back in her hometown thanks to the size of the community in Reston. However, thanks to her experiences in two very different locations, Leah has a positive mindset when it comes to change and new beginnings.