President’s Scholars visit Navajo reservation
Published: Friday, June 4, 2010
Updated: Friday, June 4, 2010 17:06
On May 13, 2010, I met a group from Indiana State University at the airport for a trip that would cover three states in eight days.
The host, President Daniel J. Bradley and his wife, Cheri, graciously shared with two professors and thirteen students, myself included, an experience of a lifetime—a trip to the southwest part of the United States of America.
I had never been to any of the sites selected for the President's Scholars' trip except for the Navajo reservation.
I was excited about spending three nights in Las Vegas, a bright city with a reputation for luck.
The national parks on the agenda fascinated me, too. I was ready to witness first-hand the immensity of the Grand Canyon, the hoodoos—tall, skinny rock formations caused by freeze-thaw erosion—of Bryce Canyon and the arches of Arches National Park. The Petrified Forest in Arizona even seemed exciting.
However, what I imagined would be the least exciting part of my trip became the most impressionable.
Somewhere during the 1,500 miles of the trip, we stopped on a reservation that housed the Navajo Nation.
The reservation is the size of West Virginia and covers three states. We stopped in order to reach out to the children on the reservation whose lack of opportunity inhibits their future success.
Kristen Monts, a former honors student at ISU, now teaches seventh grade English on the reservation in Pinon, Arizona.
She welcomed us into her home and her classroom, giving us exposure to the children she works with on a daily basis.
We read to elementary school children who come from very complicated family lives.
The Navajo people struggle to fight alcoholism and depression, but as could be seen in Monts' students, there is hope and optimism left in younger generations.
The people in my group from ISU were very touched by the experience. Ideas were brainstormed on a potential relationship the university may have with the people in Pinon, and I hope that, this summer, some of those ideas are explored and proposed as feasible plans.
I exchanged contact information with an eighth grade student that Monts advised on student council.
She was excited about sharing her tradition and culture with me, but equally thrilled that I wanted to share with her as well.
I hope that by sharing with her the possibilities that this country offers she may aspire to be successful.
The President's Scholars' trip was a success.
Not only did it expose my group to many beautiful sites, it also exposed us to many beautiful people. The impressions made and relationships formed will always be something I hold close to my heart.