Friday, June 28, 2013

A Bittersweet Day

We began our bittersweet day with our last team meeting, assessing goals and making plans for the day’s assignments.  The Florida contingent, Bonnie and Sunny gave each family a shell, noting the lines represent all points from which we came, meeting in one place, Browning, and the hope that one day all people will meet. Billy read from Matthew 25:    

Then the King will say, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…..

…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Reminded that our week was a reflection of the Creator, the group decided we will all pray for, or lift up the community when we awaken each Monday morning. Goodbyes were said to the Webster family. Nadine and Bonnie went to the Sr. Center and visited with elders. Sunny, Kelley, Ann Hackman and Molly went to the safe house for teary goodbyes with the children. In the afternoon, Nadine, Annalisa, and Bonnie went to the nursing home and played a very confusing game with some of the residents, who seemed to enjoy it. Rawah and her girls, Nadine and Leena, said goodbye to us and Joe drove them to Great Falls to catch an early flight home.
The surviving five, Ann Marett, Annalisa, Sunny, Kelley, and Bonnie drove the 12 miles to East Glacier for dinner at the Luna Diner, eating buffalo burgers and salmon sandwiches.  Sunny sampled the much touted huckleberry pie. On return to BCC campus, Annalisa’s mother and friend Andrew arrived and took her with them.
Our last night’s rest in Browning was punctuated, as usual, with fireworks from the community, a reminder of the approaching July 4th national celebration, a sobering reminder that even though we are very different from our Blackfeet brothers and sisters, we have much in common. - Bonnie

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fun and Games on the Rez

Thursday, our warmest day yet, began with our routine team meeting and with Ann’s “hide and go seek” game to find a journal writer.  Several of the team fled the room or climbed under the table until Lily Webster (Billy) was forcibly pressed into service, her father knowing she would avoid putting pen to paper if possible.  Nadine offered inspiration from a Blackfeet Chief (If we don’t preserve our way of life, who will teach the children of our way?) and the group was off to their appointed  tasks.

Lily, Nadine and Bonnie went to the Eagle Shield Senior Center in the morning where they learned to make Indian fry bread.  They had learned to eat Indian fry bread the prior evening.  They served lunch to the seniors and socialized through lunch when they dispersed to other activities.
In the afternoon, Lilly, Bonnie, Nadine and Molly facilitated the last Girl Scout camp of the week, beginning with a fire drill and ending with the distribution of take-home jars with topics for family discussion

Lindsay spent the morning taking photographs of the residents at the Senior Center.  In the afternoon she hosted the first annual Camp Lindsay at the Boys and Girls Club.  Highlights were:  the Golf bag relay, the Cheeto shampoo and Bubble gum bingo.  Lindsay was assisted at camp by Liza, Vinnie and Will.
Sunny, now a permanent fixture at the children's safe house, was joined by Ann H, Molly and Kelley.  They were able to complete their nutritional menu revision which will be a great benefit to the community there.

Annalisa, Leena, Rawah, Vinnie, Will and Billy returned to the CDC to complete the playground restoration.  Annalisa was given the Indian name “She who paints a bunch” and Vinnie the name “Vinnie Paint on Clothes”.  The project was happily completed.  Darrell and Will completed fence installation.  As usual, Ann M was everywhere all the time.

We spent a memorable last evening at the Ranch owned and operated by Chuck and Carrie DeBoo, their son Chase (Indian name:  He who is 8 ½ but drives car) and their super cute puppy Chica.  Kelley, Ann, Lily, Vinnie, Liza, Molly and AnnaLisa rode horseback and earned their spurs for the week.  Dinner, campfire, evening sky and trampoline were most happy memories from a fabulous evening.  -Billy

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

More Cultural Experiences on the Blackfeet Reservation

Today Ann H, Molly, Kelley and Sunny continued to work with the children at the Nurturing Center.  They got a new little boy last night so now there are five girls and two boys all aged six and under.  Sunny spent time with Pat who does the cooking at the Safe House making possible menus and teaching about nutrition.  We all had a great session with the staff led by Ann H about their job stress, coping skills to use with the children and providing them with emotional support.  Tomorrow we will continue with the nutritional planning again.  Ann H also did a morning in-service on debriefing  at the Addictions program.

Molly, Lily, Nadine, and Bonnie as leader continued with the Girl Scout Camp.  Each girl got her own stuffed Zink the Spotted Zebra.  Today they wrote a story about their zebra.  The girls are learning strategies. 
Another group including Annalisa, Lily, Rawah, Nadine and Leena  among others did a lot of painting at the Museum of the Plains Indians. Manpower provided matched labor.
At the CDC a team headed by Billy with Will and Rawah worked with Darrell Wippert and built and painted a spectacular caterpillar which was made of old tires.  The team dug their holes without benefit of a back hoe.
At the Boys and Girls Club Lindsay headed a group including Vinnie, Liza and Will which ran a Carnival Day and invented other games and activities.
We had an "authentic" Indian dinner tonight of Indian tacos with fry bread and blueberry soup.  Our guest speaker was Sandra Watts who was raised in Oregon and graduated  from the University of Oregon Law School.  She had incredible stories to tell about the Freedom Riders in Mississippi during the early Civil Rights Movement.  She is now married to a Blackfeet Indian and is the tribe’s legal council. - Sunny

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beautiful People in Beautiful Country

We started the day with our team meeting (Message from the sweat via Billy: “No religion’s prayer is stronger than another”).  Molly, Lily, Nadine and Bonnie had a successful first day with the girl scouts.  Sunny, Ann H. and Kelley had a long but rewarding day at the safe house where the evidence of their days’ work could be seen on Kelley’s shirt long after they left.  Will and Billy spent the morning working with Darrell at the CDC playground.  I (Annalisa) worked with Leena, Liza and Vinnie on other work areas of the playground.  Vinnie also met the future member of their family group, Mrs. Cuddles.  Lily, Nadine and Rawah helped at Eagle Shield and Rawah also did a meal delivery (Rawah said this was a good experience but warns future volunteers to beware of dogs). 

Lindsay spent time at the Senior Center as well as at the Boys and Girls Club where she is very well-liked..  These are only a few of the day’s activities as it was a very hectic and productive day with Global Volunteers going to different projects at different times. 
Lindsay has outdone herself as free-time coordinator and we had an awesome night of activities.  At 4 PM we went to the Plains Indians Museum and listened to a brief history of the museum from Mr. David Dragonfly,  director of the  museum.  After the history lesson, we watched an informational video before we wandered through the various displays . Our next activity was going to the art gallery/heritage center where we browsed not only displays, but also the jewelry.  Many of us bought some beautifully handcrafted art and jewelry.  We were also extremely lucky to have the heritage center open after hours for our group (thanks to Lindsay who asked just for us!).   Next we headed to see Real People Herbals, owned by Pauline Matt.  Pauline told us how her business was started and the process she goes through when picking plants.  Everyone wanted to buy the Northwind chap stick (or maybe just me).  We all bought souvenirs for loved ones.  During our ride to Pauline’s we had seen a rodeo that a few of the younger volunteers decided to go back to watch.  As we were enjoying the events we saw our new friend Ryder!  After a long and exciting day I’m sure we will all sleep well! - Annalisa

Monday, June 24, 2013

An Eventful Day

First thing this morning, we heard from those in the community that want our help this week.  Ginny Weeks from the library told us about some of the culture here.  We also met Elva Dorsey from the CDC who does many things for Browning.  Primarily she deals with economic development, but she also helps the kids here to stay involved in positive and healthy activities.  Sean Potts was here from Manpower to let us know about when he could need our help this week.  Finally we heard from Dee Hoyt who is director of fitness and runs health and wellness here on the campus and also directs projects for social problems like meth addiction and other  “touchy” subjects, as she said.
After this everyone decided what their  projects were for the day and got started.  Bonnie, Nadine, Lily and I (Molly) went to the elementary school and trained to be girl scout counselors for most of the week.  We are excited to meet all of the girls tomorrow.

Leena, Annalisa, Rawah and Kelley spent their day at the senior center visiting the elders.  They entertained them with games and heard interesting stories.
Lindsay, Vinnie and Liza went to the Boys and Girls Club to see if help was needed and ended up playing with about 30 kids for the day.

Billy and Will went to the pool to help but there were already enough volunteers, so they picked up trash around BCC because that is what Smokey asked them to do.
Ann H. and Sunny spent the majority of their day at the Nurturing Center, where there are children everywhere from toddlers to 6-7 year olds.  The children were at risk and now they are in the safe house so they can be cared for as best they can.

Ann H. was also at the culturally-based addictions treatment program to see how she can be helpful in the days to come.
Ann M. and Joe kindly got everyone to and from where they needed to be today.

Once everyone was back from their jobs, many of us went to a traditional Blackfeet  sweat where we were immersed  in the culture, and experienced a spiritual tradition that we would probably not have ever known.  It was an amazing experience and we were welcomed with open arms.

The first day of the projecgram is over, but luckily there are many more to come! - Molly

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Getting Settled on the Reservation

Today was our first full day in Montana.  We got a lot done and most of the planning out of the way.  We met for about six hours after breakfast and talked about who was in charge of certain jobs, the goals we want to achieve and the guidelines for our trip.  We named Kelley as kitchen coordinator, Sunny as our safety coordinator, Lindsay as activity planner and Ann Hackman to type the journal.  Our Goals were to “experience and learn about a different culture”, “to serve as a family” and , like Vinnie said, “to have fun.”

After packing lunch we hit the road.  We went for a tour of the reservation and stopped at a nice lodge to have lunch. There was an amazing view but unfortunately it was so cold we had to take it in from the inside.  After a nice lunch we went home right at the same time Bob Tailfeathers, the director of student activities here at the college, arrived.  We got a nice talk from him which was about the history of the school.  After his talk he showed us his art and lots of us bought some.  Overall it was a nice and easy first day and now we are all ready for tomorrow’s adventures.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Team 97 Begins Work on the Reservation

Asst. Team Leader Joe Jessepe describes landscape features.

Heading North from Great Falls Airport, we see the Rockies in the distance.  Looking forward to big things and we are seeing new things.  Miles of wheat and barley.  Expecting new friendships, new experiences.  Big sky overhead – open space.  Staying open minded to new ideas and different attitudes.

Met Assistant Team Leader “Professor” Joe Jeseppe – a wealth of knowledge about plate tectonics, farming practices, tribal attitudes and Global Volunteers history.  Leader Ann Marett, a whirlwind of competency – long-time volunteer around the world.
Beautiful, cheerful enthusiastic people join us at BCC.  Annalisa DeLaGarza, 3rd year pharmacy student from W.VA.,  Kelley Sullivan RN runs respite center.  Rawah Hassan from Sudan via Canada and Dallas and daughters Nadine and Leena.  Beautiful family Billy and Lindsay Webster – great kids Will, Lily, Liza and Vinnie – all outgoing.  Molly Cantrell college student and Mom Ann Hackman, psychiatrist,  Sunny Conn, RN and Bonnie Ogle natural history teacher and children’s writer.  Also met Darrell Wippert  of the Blackfeet tribe, talented artist, very interesting.  Lots of new faces with interesting stories.  Looking forward to an interesting week.
From far and wide we will abide friends.  - Bonnie

Friday, June 21, 2013

As the Week Winds Down

On Thursday, we awakened to huge gusts of wind, threatening grey skies, and periodic rain, but we didn’t let that get in the way of what we knew would be our long but exciting day. We fortified ourselves with a great breakfast before heading out  in various directions.
Charlotte, our rocket expert, again worked with the budding young scientists as they completed their summer camp, topped off with a celebratory dinner. Bunny, Gale, and Kathy met with staff from a drug and alcohol treatment center and shared the challenges they face as health professionals in dealing with individuals struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. Martha, our multitasking Global Volunteer vet, helped out in the morning at the injury and fire prevention fair, and then departed for the CDC to continue her illustrations for the children’s book. Finally, Anne and Darrell transported the last eager group to the Blackfeet Community Hospital. There we prepared large pans of macaroni, pickle, and egg salad, set up exhibit and buffet tables, and hung balloons and signs. Despite the on and off rain, we served hotdogs, hamburgers, salad, chips, and fruit to well over 350 hospital staff members and community residents. We made new friends with members of the country western band, the zumba instructor, and the hospital maintenance workers volunteering their time to bar-b-que. Diane and Ali carried out their second food prep of the day at the Eagle Shield Center.

The Community Hospital crew rounded out the afternoon with a fun stop at the Plains Indian Museum, where we expanded our knowledge of the Sun Dance celebration, talked with a local artist, and viewed a short film with highlights of the Blackfeet’s history.

As the sun peaked through, we returned home to BCC, greeted with the aroma of our wonderful evening meal. We had no idea one week ago, what awaited us.  As we approach our final days we can’t help but think that our experiences with the Blackfeet people and each other have been as vast as the big blue, grey, or star-filled Montana skies.
- Margaret and Kathy

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sun Dance and Sweat Lodges

Our morning meeting was brief today. We read the journal and the message of the day before being shipped off to our work sites. Three of us went to the Traditional Games Institute. I spent the time tying rocks onto sticks to create allatls. At least I tried to do that. I’m afraid the rocks are more held on by tacky glue. Posters were made, hoops were repaired, and then it was time to leave.

The rest of the group helped set up the sun dance lodge. Some people were tasked with chopping wood. There exists video evidence of Maria’s ax wielding efforts. It is safe to say she gave it her all. Before the logs had been moved, turned into sticks with a few (well, maybe more than a few) swings of the ax, the crew received a history lesson from one of the locals also working on the lodge. 

Joe put the experience in perspective by reminding us that not many people, even American Indians, get the opportunity to take part in the things we have. It wasn’t even his turn for the message of the day.

Horseback riding was rained out and rescheduled. So too was one woman’s potential fundraising cookout, and she became our cook for the night. The rain came down hard for most of the evening, the perfect backdrop to a few hours of card games. Fortunately the Casino in indoors. I spent my second night having the cultural experience of socializing and slowly losing my money.

June 18 on the Blackfeet Reservation

We started another sun-filled day with our team meeting led by Ann. Our journal entry was read by Diane M. with our message of the day from Kathy M.  Gale continued with her Blackfoot Indian History presentation after quizzing us on her previous presentation. And surprisingly, we all passed.

Bunny was glowing this morning, but we’re not sure if it was from doing 4 rounds in the sweat lodge the previous evening or the standing ovation the whole team gave her. She followed in the footsteps of our younger team members, Martha and Kyle, who endured another week of the sweat experience. Bunny said she couldn’t have done it without their support and encouragement. Diane, Kyle, Margaret, and Maria were taken by Craig to scrape bark from trees in the process of making tipi poles. And they finished five! As a bonus, they returned with blackened fingernails and the appreciation of the skill needed to create a smooth tipi pole. And a highlight, they saw a beaver!

Ali, Diane, and Gale hiked 3 ½ miles through a part of Glacier National Park with the Middle School students. A great hike, spectacular surrounding and a surprise meeting with a brown bear, not once but twice. Luckily for them, they were totally safe behind Diane, our resident bear expert, getting an “A” in her Alaskan bear awareness course.

Charlotte continued Day 2 of service at the Science-Math summer camp with more success today – the hot air balloons went even higher.

Bunny and Kathy C. returned to the International Traditional Games Institute with Martha and Kathy M.  Bunny finished sewing bags and stuffing them with tobacco as prizes for guest lecturers at next week’s organization games. Kathy C., Kathy M., and Martha worked on game sticks for the upcoming event and cleaning and painting signs. Their work was greatly appreciated by Deanna and Craig.

We returned to the college for a delicious dinner prepared by Charlotte, Kyle, Martha, and Ali, which we enjoyed together while sharing our experiences of the day. Later in the evening, Martha instructed many in the art of belly dancing. We all learned the technique is in the obliques!!
Another great day, made possible by our team leader, Ann, whose tireless support made all this possible.

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Day of Work....So Much to Do!

Woke up to more beautiful sunshine and started the day with various breakfast options, coffee and tea.We had a quick team meeting where we added “dogs” to the safety/security list – they seem to have the run of the town.

Just prior to the Community Meeting, Ginny Weeks from the library told us the story of the Bear River Massacre, which is depicted on the buffalo hide hanging on the walls of our meeting room.

That got me thinking to how many stories I had heard in the two days since we arrived – it is a culture of story telling, and everyone has time to stop and share their stories – to the point where 75 people turned up to hear the story of the Bear River Massacre at the library when the hide was being presented after being stored away for some time.  We learned from Darrell that some found the story “healing”, but it also “opened the eyes” of some of the younger generation to a raw part of their history.  But the stories persist for others to learn and to teach. 

We then had the community meeting where 6 were present to introduce themselves, their   positions and their volunteer needs: Ginny from the BCC library, Smokey from BCC facilities, Bob regarding the teen camp, Elva from the Children’s Center, Sean Pitts from Manpower, and Craig Falcon from the International Traditional Games Society. 

As you can imagine with our diverse but flexible team, everyone found projects to interest themselves and so, many roles were filled. 

Inquiring minds learned the following:
Charlotte assisted Dr. Thomas, a Navaho, and a chemical engineer from NASA who were together running a one week camp for middleschoolers. There were 12 kids from 6-8 grade, with 5 girls that Charlotte helped supervise. Other counselors were college age, some from the University of Montana. The kids made hot air balloons out of tissue paper, and they plan to set them free tomorrow.  They also made rockets out of paper card stock and had a competition all afternoon. If you need proof – one rocket is on the roof of the Higher Learning building down by the gym.  Ask Charlotte about lunch at the “Gas Pump”. 

Kathy M, Diane and Ali went to the Eagle Shield Senior Center, where they trayed lunches for community elders. Lunch was available free to those that were seniors in the community, and for a nominal fee for others.  They got their food, sat and ate and talked. Ali played “receptionist” while lunch was being served. In the afternoon, they all headed to the BF Care Center, where they met with the activity coordinator, to determine what they could do to help out. Ali played blackjack with some elders, while Diane spoke with 80 year old Barbara and painted her nails the “brightest color in the box”. 

Kathy was put to work  as Mother Nature’s helper – working on plants that had been left out in the cold, attempting to bring them back to life so the elders have them healthy and lively through the summer and beyond – long after Team 96 is done.

Kyle had a FUN DAY constructing bunk beds, step ladders and hunting others to fulfill his free time coordinator role. Thanks Kyle! And Martha let her creative juices continue to flow, finishing up her illustrations for the children’s book she started on Team 95. Kyle and Martha are going OUTSIDE tomorrow…..if they have the energy post sweat.

And finally, after a short 15 minute drive out to East Glacier, the 6 of us: Maria, Diane, Margaret, Kathy, Bunny and Gale, drove down a small and very bumpy road to two amazing houses in the woods.  The bigger house was  cedar cabin neighboring a garden which houses not only beautiful pieces of art but most of all Deanna Leader, the creator of the International Games project. On the other side of the garden was a smaller house, which held all of the games and the major office. The day started with mostly cleaning: sweeping the floor, organizing boxes, and shaking out old rugs. As the day went on there was serious improvement in both the paperwork and the organization of the games. Mainly consisting of rocks, sticks, and the occasional hacky sack, it was interesting to see the variety of games these simple items created. While Gale filled balloons with the exact same amount of sand, Bunny mastered the old sewing machine.

At around 3 we had a break during which Deanna gave us a tour of her house along with her life story. We sat on the screen porch and heard about her husband, children, and this project that has grown so much over time. After the break, Gale and Bunny headed off with Craig to accompany our fellow volunteers to the sweat, while we returned to the office. We constructed kick balls out of hacky sacks, braided yarn, and attached to the previously filled sand balloons. After we were done, we met up with Deanna to head back to the BCC, on the way stopping to pick up her grandson and his friend who had an interest in going to the sweat.

When we arrived at the BCC, we met Diane, Ali, and Charlotte along with Ann. We traveled to The Hut to eat our dinner, the choices ranging from frybread burgers to Indian tacos to Nachos. Our conversation covered what everyone had done throughout the day and so much more. We once again returned to the BCC to shower, make some root beer floats and play cards. Overall, despite the hectic-ness of the beginning of the day, I feel we accomplished a lot in ways that interested us individually.
- Maria and Diane

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day Two - Getting to Know Each Other

Global Volunteers Host Bob Tailfeathers in Traditional Regalia.
The day started with a great team breakfast. I know it was good because both the coffee and tea were refilled regularly, the sign of a good team. From there we all wandered into our meeting classroom for Orientation 101. It lasted the requisite amount of time.

It turns out the team has some very similar goals, and they are all much better than mine. Even those of us who claimed they were being selfish (Gale) had very giving, community minded goals. The three categories our goals fell into: learning about Blackfeet culture, serving with respect, and sharing our experience with other. Fortunately the group is so giving and community minded that under those three headings we even found room for occasional fun-having. It was especially fortunate that we did, because the rest of the day seemed to me to qualify as fun (despite also being culturally enlightening).
We took a reservation tour in two vans. In Ann’s van, we had breathtaking sights and good conversation. In Joe’s van, we had breathtaking sights and a better tour guide than any park ranger could hope to be (Thanks Joe!). And the rolling green hills of Montana will provide the perfect backdrop for our service projects. We returned in time for a delicious pile of lasagna at Eagle Shield, and then headed back to the BCC to meet Bob Tailfeathers. We heard his story, saw his art, smelled his art, and bought his art.

The night culminated with some card games and conversation. All in all I’d say we did a fine job learning some culture, getting to know one another and maybe, accidentally having fun long the way.
- Kyle

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Another Week Begins in Browning

After helping team 95 pack their luggage into the vans, we were off to the airport. It seemed as soon as we had finished giving hugs and saying goodbyes, members from the next team began to arrive. It was exciting to meet all of the new team members. After everyone had gotten their luggage (those whose luggage had not been lost, that is), we headed to the van and began our drive back to Browning. The drive to Browning was scenic to say the least. The sky was clear, so we had a perfect view of the mountains in the distance. Once we got to Blackfeet Community College, we had a quick tour and got ready to go to dinner. Dinner was wonderful, consisting good food and conversation.
Today was the perfect start to this week. I look forward to learning more about my fellow team mates in the days to come.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cultural Experiences on a Blackfeet Volunteer Vacation

The day began as usual – early birds up and at ‘em paving the way for the rest of us not-so-early-birds by making coffee and setting out breakfast foods.  We each pack a lunch, and as the hour of 8am drew nearer, our community meeting would take place…in Indian time.  Only in our group -  it’s not the Indians that are tardy…( ;

Unlike yesterday, we have all had assignments, and a chance to get our feet wet a bit with a volunteer project.  So this morning we all gather to refine those assignments a bit more – some projects need more assistance, and others perhaps not the right timing due to weather or other circumstances.  This all makes perfect sense as we are the first Global Volunteer group to be at the Blackfeet Reservation this year.  So we adjust, and flex and figure things out as we go – and it all works.

Some of us are working on projects that will take place later on in the week as we also do volunteer assignments during the day.  Those of us who are not able to do a volunteer assignment, due to weather, are quickly grabbed up by others as we round out our needs with various assignments.

Today, the bookstore is open following inventory on Monday, and many of us have looked at the wonderful selection of children’s books that describe Blackfeet culture, as well as a robust selection of Blackfeet culture and history.  A selection of Bob Tailfeather’s earrings is also available at the bookstore and his quill art is tough to resist!

Today is not a day to stain fences, nor cut grass as it is windy, a bit cold and drizzly.  That does not matter – we simply adjust and share our skills in different ways and in different places.
I am fortunate to be with a group that will work with Girl Scouts at the middle school today, to cultivate interest in science and a bit of math through a “CSI” exercise.  It is great fun to be with such energized young people and to be able to contribute a bit to their summer enrichment.
Others are interacting in the community and having substantive conversations designed to gather information, learn and then develop ways to launch additional projects to contribute in meaningful ways.  These conversations are critically important as they inform future volunteer projects designed by those we are privileged to serve.
Some of our team participated in a sweat lodge ceremony and had an incredibly rich and unforgettable experience with our Blackfeet hosts.  There are no words to adequately describe the depth and impact of their spiritual  experience.

People are working at Eagle Shield with residents, in food service, helping to assist administration, visiting with elders at the Blackfeet Care Center, and in a multitude of other ways.  Clearly the culture of Global Volunteers resonates as we are able to support each other and give to others.  What a wonderful gift  - to be able to give in our unique ways to our Blackfeet sisters and brothers.

Respectfully Submitted – Alison Brown

Monday, June 10, 2013

First Day of Work Brings Anticipation, Excitement

This was the day of great anticipation: the day we would learn about our work assignments!

Our Community Partner Meeting began with a warm welcome and thanks from BCC President Dr. Billie Jo Kipp and Vice President Dorothy Still Smoking. Several representatives from an assortment of community organizations then indicated the particular needs they had and ways we might help.

After each volunteer shared his or her specific skills that they could offer in service to the community, we tried to match those skills to the most immediate tasks at hand, and the first day’s assignments were made.

One group drove out- of-town to disassemble a previously used sweat lodge because a new one is built for each occasion. Lily was surprised to find that the lodge is not as tall as she is. Five team members also participated in the sweat lodge ceremonies this evening, and we are eager to hear about their experiences.

Another group went to the middle school for training as project leaders in the Girl Scout Summer Camp. Based on the CSI program, the scouts and volunteers will have fun using investigative techniques like blood-typing and fingerprinting to “solve a crime.” And Helen expects the number of Girl Scouts to increase when they discover our youngest volunteer is helping out.

Other volunteers assisted at the BCC Library and the Community Development Center and served lunch at Eagle Shield Retirement Home. Betty had a ball playing Bingo and other games and listening to the stories of residents at the Care Center.

The best part of my day was when I worked alongside Maria – and Colin – in the kitchen tonight. We shared stories about our families, and Maria happily explained about pow-wows and the various Blackfeet ceremonial costumes on the dolls in the dining room display. I felt like I was learning about a new friend as we worked together … and that’s one big reason I came to Browning.
- Geri

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Orientation Day on the Rez

The morning started with "the shower experience."  I visited the men's shower at ten minute intervals throughout the morning to check if the water Had reached a reasonable temperature for use, finally I cracked the case and found out that the handle had to be pointed at cold in order to be hot.

In the morning, I was able to talk to some of the other volunteers over breakfast.  While we were eating, Darryl Wippert, one of our connections in the community, joined us.  He spent a few hours talking to us about his life, where he had gone, and his art work.  He was a very talented artist and I feel lucky to have seen his artwork.

Next we had our first team meeting.  This meeting encompassed the preliminary team orientation and introduction to the Blackfeet program.  We played the beloved name game and miraculously no one was forgotten.  After creating descriptions of an effective team we realized that we were striving to be communicative, hard-working, patient, kind, understanding, flexible, effective, fun-loving, and later Betty reminded us the importance of Punctuality.  

After the meeting, we got our lunches from the kitchen and went to the vans to go on a tour of the reservation.  We broke up into two different groups one for each van.  We drove along the western edge of the reservation stopping to take photos of terminal moraines, mountains, and lakes as we went along.  The landscape was absolutely beautiful.  The atmosphere inside the van was enthusiastic, stories were told about the land features and songs were sung.

While driving on the reservation side, we saw sights of chief mountain, the Hudson divide, duck lake, St. Mary lake and several other beautiful sights.  We had the privilege of having a world class, "should-have-worked-for-the-discovery-channel-grade" tour guide -- otherwise known as Joe.  Joe explained all about the geological processes that lead to the development of the mountains, the glacial movements and the seemingly endless supply of beaver dams.  We also stopped in St. Mary and East Glacier to walk around, enjoy a beer with the staff and explore a hundred-year-old lodge along the way. 

Once we got back, we had a wonderful dinner at Eagle Shield Center.

Then we finished up our meeting with more talk about stuff.  Finally we wrote this journal to document our day.
- Martha and Andrew

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Volunteer Vacation Begins on the Blackfeet Reservation

Today is my first day of a week-long service program with Global Volunteers. When I arrive at Great Falls Airport, I quickly meet Mimi, a fellow volunteer from Rhode Island. Soon enough, our team leader, Michele, arrives and introduces us to Kyle, a college student from Pennsylvania. Over the next hour, other volunteers arrive in twos and threes, gathering together by the luggage pickup.

Michele, our ever enthusiastic team leader, ushers us towards the parking lot while excitedly detailing the fascinating histories of the sites surrounding us. At the doorway, we meet Joe, our extraordinarily knowledgeable liaison with Blackfeet Community College (BCC) and Global Volunteers' Assistant Team Leader. After splitting up into two vans, the drive to the BCC passes in the blink of an eye as our guides regale us with tales relating to the Blackfeet community.

Dinner is a lively affair, kicked off by a traditional Indian prayer. Following the native customs, the “elders” are served first, though only a few embrace their status as being older (and possibly wiser) than everyone else. At the conclusion of the delicious meal, we thank Maria for her hard work and retire for the night, determined to be well rested for the next day’s adventures.
- Kevin