|A DAY IN THE LIFE...||STUDY ABROAD||EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING||HONORS FACULTY||NEWS||PHOTOS|
During the last weekend of October, I, along with a group of honors students and faculty, visited the Navajo reservation in Piñon, Arizona. As part of an on-going three year partnership between the ISU Honors Program and Piñon Schools, we had the privilege of shadowing Navajo high school students during our five day stay.
Through activities and conversation, we shared so many unforgettable experiences with the Navajo students. The first of these activities was a personal guided tour through the Navajo Nation Museum, during which the students sparked life into the Navajo culture and history with stories and personal accounts. Then, we traveled to Window Rock Monument, a remarkable example of the beautifully sculpted landscape found on the Navajo reservation.
The following day, the students took us on a tour of their high school. It was an incredible building, with all of the modern technologies and good will found in any American school. We then led a Q&A to inform the students of college enrollment and college life. The last period of the school day took us to an elementary school, where we read stories to the children and answered all their questions about college, our favorite colors, and other silly topics brought up by the kids. Later that evening, we attended a presentation, created and led by the Navajo students. Their presentations consisted of PowerPoint slides about Navajo culture and history, native dances, heartfelt poems, and other powerful performances.
During our final day with the students, we volunteered in the Piñon Senior Center and collected trash in an area behind a roadside market. Finally, to wrap up the day and the trip, we all gathered in the school’s library to discuss our experience. As we went around the circling sharing our opinions, I began to realize how much I had learned and changed during this visit. Everything we did together, from the cultural immersion to the simple community service, opened my eyes to a beautiful culture, established strong friendships, and created memories that will last a lifetime.
The students demonstrated the power of understanding and respecting one’s heritage. They showed kindness that surpassing cultural and societal boundaries. But, most importantly, they taught me that people are people, no matter where you go. We may have different skin colors or religions or histories, but if we took the time to educate ourselves on our differences, perhaps we would discover our similarities.
-Jonathan Wachala, Business major