Wednesday, November 28, 2007
As my good friend Sas reminded me, a few people actually do enjoy reading my blog, and when I miss an entry, I suppose it is somehow missed by others as well. Anyway, here I am, to share some of my random happenings....
The major events of the prior week do not really involve Pine Ridge (especially since 5 days were spent in and/or traveling to Boston)... but I shall remark on them nonetheless, considering my life transpires in more than one place...
Thanksgiving break was spent in Boston, with two dear friends Katie and Nealy. We really had a super time, and on Thanksgiving day we ate dinner with a random family of sorts. They attend the church in which Katie works, thus inviting Katie and her two poor friends to dinner! We had a great time hearing all the eccentric stories of their animals and life enjoyments, which created an entertaining and a bit strange atmosphere. The food was good and conversation was most definitely not lacking! :) Later I met some of Katie's new friends who attend seminary with her, and we enjoyed yet another entertaining evening full of stories from a former Emu farmer. :)
Friday we went to the Northern Massachusetts coast, visiting the coastal towns of Rockport and Newburyport. We took several photos, visited various shops, and ate a crab cake lunch overlooking the harbor. It was cold, yet invigorating, and we had a wonderful time together, driving all around the area and seeing the colors of fall, which have largely left Pine Ridge by this time (see, here is my Pine Ridge excerpt). :)
Saturday we went into Boston to walk the Freedom Trail (which I had vague recollections of doing with the family when I was 11 years old). Again, our cameras were our best friends, as we strolled down the extremely cold streets of Boston, occasionally pretending to be interested in the historical monuments. :) (okay, Katie actually was, and Nealy and I were as well- only slightly less often). The biggest climb of the day was the Bunker Hill monument, which is a mere 300 steps, ah- 300 steps which make my calves sore yet today, several days later! It was fun to experience all the sights of Boston, especially with my dear traveling partners, Katie and Nealy.
I ventured home early Sunday morning, and we arrived in Sioux Falls in time to have lunch with my sister and brother-in-law, and I also was able to visit my brother...which made for a somewhat family-time experience over Thanksgiving break, even though it doesn't compare to being home for Thanksgiving dinner and a new (hopefully) tradition of bingo, which I hear was a pretty great time.
After being back to Pine Ridge for three days, my jet lag is slowly wearing off, and I have had three extremely full and somewhat crazy days at school. We had an episode in the weight room involving a tube of shoe polish, several pencils, and a large (machine) weight stack. The story goes like this: Unbeknownst to Emily, one of her students evidently found the idea of smashing things in between weighted plates (on the machine) to be intriguing, thus creating a royal mess of white shoe polish and severly sliced pencil shreds. Emily, however, was not situated to see this event occur, so when complaints came to her the following day from the dean of students and the athletic director, she had nothing to say, for she didn't know what was going on)... but after a 2 day investigation, admin. has been figuring out who the culprit was, the guilty party has managed to somewhat clean it up, and I have been reminded a few times of how important my classroom management is, particularly in the weight room...which leads me to my next story, regarding how I've dealt with my students....
Today I had the brilliant idea of creating a 'Weight Training 101' sheet for the guys, and in addition to explaining and reviewing our 'respect' policy, I asked the guys to all write 150 words on why respect is an important value to learn and impliment in both the weight room and everyday life.... which was received with an unimaginable resistance, yet I became, perhaps for the first time ever, a real teacher- and made them all complete it, and in the process of showing I was 'for real'....I also managed to write a student up for disobedience.... I think he was under the impression that I wasn't really serious... oh but I was. It only takes so many 'talks' with the principal before I realize I have to take control.... and so I have, and my weights class will be performing a bit differently from here on out: example... when the students are finished with their routine for the day, I will assign each person to a particular cleaning job... which I'm confident will also go over well. :)
So, despite a few stressful setbacks, I still love life and am realizing that simply because something is difficult does not mean that it is not good- for actually I believe I will learn a great deal through this experience regarding the necessity of managing the behavioral tendencies of adolescent boys...regardless of how counter-intuitive this is with my personality.
I also have an infiltration of fruit flies currently, perhaps as a result of the massive amount of bananas which pass through my office daily, so if anyone has any great techniques (short of continually waving my arms to and fro)....do let me know! :)
One positive note (I'm sure there are many more that are currently clouded by my stress-oh, sure enough- I have thought of two positive notes)..... We have heat in our bedrooms for the first time this year- what a glorious blessing!
My second positive note is actually a bit more significant, and that is I was able to participate in a sweat/prayer service again on Monday, and it has been quite some time since I have gone to a sweat. It was a rather last minute decision, which is often the best way of going about things here- and I thorougly enjoyed the time spent praying with fellow Red Cloud faculty....and their relatives. Cleansing, for sure.
Okay, that is all for my ramblings today. If you choose to respond, I will certainly welcome it, and if you wish to offer a prayer on my behalf, I will most definitely welcome that as well.
Peace to you all, as we make our way into December- and begin gearing up for another holiday season!
Monday, November 19, 2007
even after over three months time~
I am excited for Thanksgiving break, as I believe all students and faculty are.... and in particular, I am leaving for Boston in two days! My good friend Katie (from HS, not my housemate) lives there, and a mutual friend and I are headed her way to spend Thanksgiving. I will surely miss being home with family, but it will be great to reunite with Katie and Nealy!
Reflecting on this past week is quite appropriate, actually, considering our Saturday spent with fellow volunteers in a "day of reflection." Thus, I shall reflect on a larger scale of my time being here, since last week the routine of school went without much excitement....a few details first:
I helped judge artwork for the art teacher as she decides who's work to take to the Lakota Nation Invitational (Dec. 19-22), a huge event in Rapid, hosting 16 schools in various competitions, basketball tournament, wrestling tournament, handgames, knowledge bowl, Lakota Language competition, and Artwork- which is the reason I was judging in the first place. :)
As faculty, a group of us meets during the lunch hour once a week for a time of spiritual reflection and renewal, and this week we had a number of people, and the time together was quite beneficial....I have really come to appreciate this time, growing in knowledge of God, ourselves, and one another- particularly cool since it involves all faculty we work with on a daily basis.
And Saturday- we spent almost the entire (beautiful) day in honest reflection, listening to God, praying, and hearing from others regarding their experience thus far, and their emotional response to the change that has brought us all to be at Red Cloud. I found this time to be a beautiful opportunity to escape from a normal routine and simply think on- and pray about- my time here thus far. I have come to understand that the reasons I initially came out here are positive (learning more about the Lakota culture and serving youth)... yet I also came to realize and name a few ways which God is working, which I wasn't necessarily expecting-
I initially thought that I would be taking a 'break' from thinking theologically about everything (as I seemed prone to in college)... yet I realize now that my time and interaction with students thus far has been a wonderful chance for me to continue my theological reflection on youth ministry (as if I'll ever stop) :) in an environment in which youth are constantly present in my life....a place where stories are shared in abundance and hearts are open to conversation about real life issues.... and Saturday I realized fully for the first time how much this experience fulfills me, since I am able to be a part of the development of these students' lives- in so many ways- and this will only increase with time. Thus, God has been using this time to further validate how much I feel called to working with youth in the future- I am continually fascinated by adolescent development- particularly when it come to the integration of spirituality throughout all of life.
I have also come to realize this through my reflection: in the three and a half months that I've been here, I already am growing in many ways in my spiritual development- as a young person contemplating future ministry and my own relationship with God- I marvel at how a change of environment really requires new honesty in my faith commitment, and being willing to accept what God is doing... regardless of my own fears and uncertainties.
Ah, so plenty of reflection and relaxation this weekend has prepared me well to finish out these last two days of school and head into my travels with energy! :) I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving...and may we all remember those less fortunate than ourselves as we also express our gratitude for what we have been given. God knows we all need gratefulness in our lives! :)
Much love, Emily
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
It has been a crazy week for me, really...
Here are some highlights since I last wrote:
Student-Teacher conferences! Let me tell you, I was actually a bit nervous- mainly because I really had no idea what to talk about in the chance that any parents actually came to talk about their students in weight lifting! Ha, I ended up speaking with the parents of 7 students (out of 20)...so not bad, really.... the first person to come in was a mom who was concerned her son wasn't very motivated, and she asked me to basically make him work harder, which I found strangely exciting. :) The other parents just wanted to touch base- and a few came in b/c I told their students I wanted them to....so they came in and sort of stood there, waiting for me to say something, and all I say is: "Well, your student lifts weights!" :) And they left. Ha, it was pretty funny....but the best part was getting to visit with the students who hung out in my room b/c of an athletic mtg. after conferences. One student even fixed my DVD player for me, how great to be the TV go-to woman now!
Junior Retreat! The junior retreat all in all was a big success, particularly according to Peter, who has been on several junior retreats and actually has something to compare it with....so I was pleased with that. The senior retreat was perhaps a bit more celebrated by the students, but I think the juniors warmed up to the experience once they were there...at first I thought it was going in a bad direction when my entire small group decided to share that their junior years all sucked! I was like, hmm...OKAY! But really I am learning that retreats are a great way for students to reflect on their experience, and particularly find what is positive about their year. I also had the good fortune to speak with three students on a really deep level during the retreat, and I feel more connected with the class as a whole. I also hiked a mountain and had a 'mountain top' experience! :) Ha, okay, it was only incredible because I love nature- and you can see a whole lot of it from that high up! The bus ride home was not so good (I drove).... but basically I'll leave the feel of the retreat positive in your minds and not speak about the dreadfull whining and complaints I nearly lost my temper over..... ;)
Weekend Fun! I enjoyed a nice Friday evening with my fellow volunteers, as we went to a coffee shop in Hot Springs- It is always nice to get away for awhile, even if it's an hour drive each way....I'm really getting used to that, and as I think of it in relation to my location growing up, it would be similar to traveling to Sioux Falls to do something, only without Brookings (or even all other smaller towns) around. Yep, I do a considerable amount of traveling here.....although I also enjoy just being here on the campus, spending some quality down time with the volunteers.... we can be quite crazy together, I must say- but we are bonding well, I think--- just in time for the impending cold winter months of staying inside, drinking tea, and playing board games (at least this is what I am hoping for). :)
The rest of the weekend was pretty relaxed- I attended the Episcopal church and actually read the 2nd reading (from 2 Thessalonians) for the congregation. I drove over with Peter Hill who is a fellow teacher in the high school, and it was great to feel a part of the congregation, going with someone I know AND knowing some of the people there now. We also enjoyed a large breakfast following the service, which is a pretty great tradition....giving me space to hear from long-time members of the Pine Ridge community on their experiences throughout the decades....what a story-rich community this place is! I cannot wait to hear more!
Following my day off yesterday to observe Veteran's Day.... I felt refreshed and prepared to be here at school once again. I came into my office today to the smell of ripe bananas! Yes, that is right- not one but TWO boxes of brown bananas awaited my smiling face... and without erasing the smile, I simply separated them and served them on my cart. Of course I expected the hundreds of wrinkled noses and judgmental comments which arose concerning the state of the bananas.... yet over 1/2 of them were eaten, some were dispersed for making banana bread, and the rest have yet to meet their fate. We shall see how much banana bread Katie and I can make! :)
I do have some exciting news...that is, I HAVE PICTURES..... my dear mother sent me the pictures she took while they visited, and I must say- I look pretty darn good in the drivers seat of a school bus! :) I hope you feel the same. ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!
My Dad & I in front of a scenic view on Red Shirt Table Road
My Parents & I in front of the Cottage
A mini-me in between the church and school
Welcome to Red Cloud, everyone who enjoys a scary smile!
This is it...I mean the school bus, not me being Vanna White
The friendly face of a neighborhood bus driver- or, ME!
Working with Jose at the Halloween Carnival
My office!!! This is currently where I'm at! Weird.
Peace to you all as you orient yourself into this season of Thanksgiving! I give thanks today for the supportive and encouraging people you all are... thanks for keeping up with the blog... and may God grant you peace, in a miraculous way this week.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Well, actually I did go somewhere for the weekend- Outlaw Ranch, for our staff retreat! This past week I had a great time at school, as we had a shortened week (not unlike most other weeks!) :) and I was able to look forward to the staff retreat...
b/f the staff retreat details, I must say that I had an extremely enjoyable Thursday- you know, the kind of day where you find yourself smiling for no reason (or every reason in the world)....and when everything falls into place better than expected and/or better than you could have planned? The kind of day in which I see God in all people, every situation. Thursday was a great day....
Which led into a wonderful retreat experience, lasting one day for most people, two days for the brave among us! My initial (and only) leadership involvement included leading ice breakers for the group, and after hours of googling and changing my mind, I decided upon "two truths and a lie" as a preferred icebreaker, which ended up to be quite successfull (at least according to those who enjoyed it....I suppose you don't hear as much negative feedback from friends, huh?) Anyway, glad to have that responsibility done, I thoroughly enjoyed the break-out sessions:
1. Stepping stones (during which we shared blessings and frustrations throughout our life, bringing us to Red Cloud).....a beautiful experience, really. 2. Tobacco ties prayer service....which I knew little about before participating, yet this again was a way in which I truly sensed God's presence- as we learned the significance of each color of tie (again, black, yellow, red, and white)....and the prayers which were offered for each color. Each person grabs a pinch or handful of tobacco and proceeds to pray for a variety of things, giving up control of each thing into the hands of TUNKASILA (Grandfather) God... and one by one each person contributes their tobacco prayers into one strip of cloth (and thus their concerns and control), which is tied up, smudged with sage, and laid in the shape of a circle, w/ each tie as 1/4 of the ring. This experience was a beautifully tactile way of connecting people and elements of nature together in prayer. 3. Emmaus walk- during which we meditated on the passage of Scripture from the Gospels, when the disciples unknowingly walked with Jesus on the road following his resurrection, and we proceeded to walk around the beautiful hills with a partner, discussing our place in life currently, our hopes and frustrations, etc.
We finished the retreat 'requirements' with Mass, which led into dinner, and after two hours of table conversation (quite hysterical table conversation, BTW) we played handgames, another Lakota game which is evidently one of the oldest traditions within Lakota culture. It primarily consists of two teams competing for 'sticks' which are taken back and forth among teams based on whether or not the other team correctly guesses which hand the colored 'bone' is in. Okay, this seems to be an extremely difficult task-that is, trying to explain handgames- but basically, you want to be good guessers (or have accurate intuition), so you can collect the other team's sticks, and win! :) if you are interested in specifics, ask me, and I shall do my best to share! It was a great time, even if I did suck quite horribly! :)
The next morning of the retreat we shared in a talking circle, each of about a dozen of us...concerning the blessings and brokenness of our lives... and I found this time together quite moving and wonderful....learning from one another, truly listening to the stories of our hearts.
I feel as if this blog is boring. Maybe because I'm starting to fall asleep or something... HA. I don't know....anyway, I have a story...
Today a girl named Cody came into my office to chat after school, and although I don't know her extremely well, she complimented me on my organization skills, and my excitement to do different activities- and she ends with, "I think you're really cool." I respond appropriately with, "I think you're pretty cool, too! I love this job, getting to meet you all."... She smiles broadly, and I realize that it is moments like this that I will cherish- for amidst the times of uncertainty about my being here, I know that students like Cody do take notice of a genuine heart, which reminds me that my time is well spent (as I have had little opportunity to doubt recently)....
I am ending this blog- because I'm not entirely sure that anything is making sense right now. I thank you for your wonderful response to my blogging, and for being willing to reflect with me on my time in Pine Ridge.
Hopefully my mind shall be a bit more sharp the next time I write, for I'd like to explain more of my perceptions of youth interaction at a later time.... Oh you just can't wait, I know.