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UCB DECAL Fall '11

Spring Break 2009 - Rio Puerco PDF Print E-mail

After our last winter trip in which we helped to build the Rio Puerco Youth Center, Project Pueblo decided that we would return as soon as possible so we could continue this project.  Spring Break was the best time for us so we planned to incorporate more universities and help work together on this great project. Representatives from 5 California Universities including UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of San Francisco, Loma Linda University and La Sierra University all joined PP for their second official trip. With this eclectic group of students, we were able to from meaningful connections with tribal leadership, establish friendships with residents of the reservation, and accomplish a great deal of physical construction work.


During our first day, after a long (not to mention cold) morning of unloading building materials, preparing meals and settling into the elementary school dorm that we were staying at, we had our first meeting with John van Eyk.  John is the person that was responsible for inviting us to help with the building of the youth center. In the days that followed, the day began with splitting up into several groups in the morning.  One group continued to work on the youth center, one group stayed at the elementary school to help there (some of our students became P.E. instructors for the day, or on one occasion 2nd and 3rd grade teachers) and a third group made up of medically inclined students did research by meeting with health care officials to learn more about the Navajo Nation health care system. 

After a day doing our assigned tasks, we would get together for lunch and get ready for our ‘cultural activity’. For example, on the second day, we took a trip to the local Navajo Indian Museum where our group learned a small part of the history of the Navajo Nation. Another activity consisted of the group touring the Tribal Council Senate Chambers and receiving a lesson on how exactly the Navajo Nation is run and managed. On the fourth day (which was perhaps the highlight of the trip for most of us), we were invited to Navajo councilman Larry Anderson’s home. Not only were we able to experience the community of a Navajo home, but also Mr. Anderson invited the men of the group to participate in a unique Navajo tradition: the prayer sweat lodge. For the people that participated, the experience was one that can’t be simply described--it is some thing you must simply experience for yourself.


The last Navajo experience for this trip was a meeting between several PP leaders and Bill and Ryan Battles, a father-son team of attorneys specializing in tribal law. We were able to experience a vast array of Navajo culture including food, landscapes, and 5,000-year-old Anazazi ruins!  Also, we were able to get an idea of the problems and needs of the Navajo Nation’s legal and social systems. It was because of people like John Van Eyk, Mr. Anderson and the Battles Family (along with others) that we could become inspired and driven to return to Navajo Nation packed with ideas and the willingness to help in our small way. All in all, Project Pueblo’s Spring Break 2009 was defined by a week of social justice, friendships, cultural enlightenment and inspiration. Please consider joining us for our upcoming trips--we guarantee a life changing experience, and not just for the people you reach, but for those that attend the trips as well! 


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