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UCB DECAL Fall '11

2009 Summer Research Trip PDF Print E-mail

Starting on May 24, the leadership of Project Pueblo set out to the Navajo Nation with the purpose of renewing past contacts and creating new ones. The week, which went by at a blistering pace, was both rewarding and extremely productive. Based on the contacts that were made, PP Leadership was able to plan the next two upcoming trips as well as frame Project Pueblo’s long term plans. The week started when the team headed out to the offices of the Navajo Times in order to follow up on a series of columns about the youth center and to find out about future projects.

We also pitched an idea regarding a potential skate competition that will take place as soon as the center is completed during a visit to the local radio station.   This was the last stop on a promotional swing for the youth center and its future services. Also in the week, we were recruited to help with the building of a traditional Navajo earth oven. The experience, led by Gino Antonio, was one that was not only physically exhausting (mixing mud and straw in the middle of a rainstorm is pretty rough), but it was a paradigm shift for the team that redefined our western notions about the earth, about renewable energy and about Navajo society. This experience proved to be a much-needed adjustment in our attitudes that was necessary if we were to continue to help in our small way.

Another huge accomplishment for the team that was accomplished during this week was the production of our present website…you know--the one you are on! Designing www.projectpueblo.org was a long but rewarding process. Among the people we met were the Director of the Department of Navajo Youth, Yvonne Beget, who gave us her full support and directed us to a gold mine of statistics regarding the ills that plague Navajo youth. This provided the team with a realistic picture of the needs of the Navajo Nation. We also met with the Navajo Nation’s Chief Financial Officer, Raymond Upon, who gave us a two-hour tour of the Economic Department and an extremely helpful lecture on the Nation’s dire economic situation.  Specifically, he spoke about problems due to some poor financial decisions and issues with having foreign investors (by foreign, we mean American).

Next, we met with the Executive Director of the DNA, a non-profit law firm for the Navajo Nation’s lower income members. It was after these meetings that the idea of Project Pueblo Internships was born.  We realized that providing college students with internship opportunities in the Navajo Nation was a Win-Win-Win situation. First, the student benefits with resume material and much needed experience.  Second, the government agencies benefit since they get access to much needed labor.  Third, the people of Navajo Nation benefit since these students will be working to assist them in whatever capacity that we can.  Other agencies we visited included the Office of Economic Security (different than the Office of Economic Development described above), the Office of Transportation, the government airport (where a pilot gave us a tour of the facility and the planes), the local Chapter Houses (where day-to-day local government proceedings are conducted), and the Department of Navajo Tourism.

All of these visits were insightful and rewarding since we were able to gain a better overview of Navajo government, Navajo society and the Navajo people. The week was completed with work at the Rio Puerco Youth Center, were we helped in the construction of a loft.  Also, we had the opportunity to take part in hiking trips through the Navajo Nation’s world famous canyons. It was truly a week of learning, activity, networking, planning and fun. It is almost impossible to relay the excitement and the countless epiphanies that occurred to those of us who came this week.  The flame of compassion was reignited for our Leadership Team and the friendships that were made will last a lifetime. We only hope that the above summary can do justice to the flurry of activity and development for Project Pueblo that this week was.  To join the excitement that we are experiencing at Project Pueblo, please click on the Membership Form and fill out our Trip Application to register for upcoming trips!


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