Our First Day of School: Day 2 Browning 2015
Monday, January 12, 2015
Today was the first day that we volunteered at the De La Salle School in Browning, Montana. We started off the morning with prayer and then made our way into town. It was a brisk 6* degrees outside when Blake and Dan started the vehicles before our departure!! Upon our arrival, the immersion group greeted the students in the gymnasium to join them for basketball, volleyball, four square, and other physical activities before morning assembly. At morning assembly the students gathered and brought forward their intentions. Then we stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and reflected on the Blackfeet Nation Song while it played. Following that was the Teachers Prayer and the De La Salle Blackfeet Morning Prayer. Before breaking into our classrooms the students and teachers approached us and shook all of our hands.
Katie and I were assigned to serve in the 4th grade classroom with Ms. Kelly Stack; who has worked at De La Salle for six years; first as a volunteer teacher, and now as a certified educator from the University of Illinois. The classes the students attended were Math, Social Studies, Reading, Language Arts, Science, PE/Health and Religion. Megan and I both experienced special encounters when working with the fourth grade class. Below we will share with you briefly what it was like to get to know come of the students of the Blackfeet culture and how their lives are so diverse compared to our own.
I worked with a young girl today who actually moved to Browning from North Dakota. She is originally a Sioux Indian, but she explained to me that her and her family have come to embrace the ways of the Blackfeet culture, and told me about how some of the tribes’ traditions are alike. The student has had a challenging journey, and the staff at De La Salle School is lucky to have her. She has four younger brothers, and therefore her name in Sioux means, “Eldest Daughter.” Each of her brothers has a separate father, which proves that the family dynamics in her home are a little rocky since mom is doing her very best to raise the children and see that their basic and psychological needs are met. She told me that her mom used to be an avid runner in college who holds records at a college in ND, but unfortunately, the pressure of addictions have placed her mother into a series of rehabilitation centers and programs, while the student is cared for by her grandmother. I appreciated getting to spend just a short amount of time with this student by allowing her to share her life and open up to me about some of the traditions of her people. I hope to impact her life this week, and continue to learn and embrace the Blackfeet people without passing judgments on them, as well as keeping the school in my prayers.
Something interesting that I found out is that all of the students in the school have their own iPad to use during school, donated to the school by a private donor. One student that really touched me today was a boy who had many difficulties following the rules and staying focused. When I was helping him in Social Studies using his iPad, he was able to stay focused and we were able to get all of his work done. It made me feel special that I was able to help someone who often turns people away. I am excited to see what the rest of the week brings.