Monday, August 6, 2012

by Emily Taborda-Monroe

Day 2 or 3, depending on how you’re counting. It is the first morning we all wake up in Browning. The showers are open early, and if you are lucky enough to be in the vicinity around 7:15 you may hear the musical stylings of the Monroe sisters as they perform their morning shower concert. Breakfast is made, along with many pots of coffee, before morning meeting begins promptly at 8:10ish. Danielle gives the morning message, a traditional Blackfeet prayer, before Laura reads Saturday’s journal entry followed by Charlie reading Sundays. Wayne Bullcalf drops into the morning meeting to ask Michelle for 3 volunteers for Head Start, the first of several pop-up requests for volunteers. Michelle releases us to grab our things, refill water bottles-under the watchful eye of Rob our Water Czar- and walk to the Blackfeet Community College where we are to meet our host organization and project leaders.

We pile into our meeting room at the BCC library. The large board room is being renovated so we are in a smaller room off the newly set-up Children’s Area, a tight squeeze with 25+ of us, but since we are working on being a good team we are practicing characteristics 5, 13, & 23 (being flexible, cheerful, and understanding). After brief introductions are made Tony from the Boys and Girls Club goes over his needs/requests for the week. He leaves early to talk with the police about some recent break-ins and vandalism at the club, the latter of which he is hoping we can help to repair.

We go around the room having each volunteer name what skills, experience, talent, knowledge, etc. they have and are willing to share/utilize this week. We are a large group and our skills are varied with everything from grant writing to sports to food service and on, this was a good because the needs of the organization seemed to be just as varied. At this point the different organizations introduce themselves and what they were looking for. Throughout the meeting people have been sticking their heads in to introduce themselves and request volunteers for help around the college. We also had a 21st volunteer show up. Daryl Whitebird who, Michelle told us, has been helping with Global Volunteers since it first came to Browning. Assignments for the day are divvied up and we take a break before our tour of the college.

GV’s regular tour guide is unavailable so Linda Sue and Dana agree to show us around. Although they have told us they are not tour guides they have a lot of information to share and are obviously enthusiastic about the school. We end the tour in the Blackfeet Studies Lab, also called the Medicine Room, a round room which is a modern representation of the teepee. Dee Hoyt meets us here, she is the Chair of Education and Health at the school and has graciously offered to bring us to the seat ceremony that evening.  She talks to the group about the sweat, answers questions, and describes some of her own experiences.

We break for lunch before setting off to our various work sites for the afternoon. Projects for the day include starting work on the GV storage shed, preparing meals at Eagle Shield, lawn maintenance at Head Start, archiving at the BCC library, assembling gym equipment for BCC, and more. We all start to trickle back to our GV home base around 3:30. Those of us going to the sweat change into appropriate clothing, grab some dinner and refill our water bottles before heading to the parking lot to wait for Dee. The sweat is a hard thing to describe and since it is different for each person I will just say that for me it was a very spiritual experience and quite unforgettable. Tom and his family and the individuals who were there embraced us into their group and shared something truly incredible with us and I am so grateful for that.

In closing, I will just say that I know for a fact that at least 6 goals were met in that one day, on one project because Robert and I saw a real Indian(1) while working under the hot Montana sun (2), doing something purposeful (3) to help people(4) while looking at the mountains of Montana(5), together as family(6).

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