Sharing and learning in the Navajo Nation

by Daniel Alexander

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By Amizade alum Kira Traxler

When given the option to go out of state and volunteer to work on a service project I jumped at the chance as soon as I could.  I didn’t give it a second thought. I knew what I signed up for and for that I’m glad.. My experience in the Navajo Nation will be a trip that I will never forget. I had such an amazing and interesting time there and after meeting everyone, I wasn’t ready to leave. I also wasn’t prepared for the small emotional rollercoaster I experienced during the  last couple of days. Let’s be honest, during the first couple of days we really had our work cut out for us, but it was worth it. We built part of a fence, which was not easy, and took a lot of teamwork, patience, hard work and friendly banter.

I learned to appreciate someone else’s hard work, detail and culture.  Now-a-days it is so easy to go on the internet and research a certain social justice topic and learn about ways you can help, but being able to actually contribute and get  hands on experiences makes you want to apply the things you learned to your everyday living. On the trip I met wonderful and strong people with many aspirations who  make you want to better yourself. We also got to work with some of the people there and work on other things like cutting wood for some of the homes that needed firewood for cooking and keeping their houses warm.

Also picking up litter which was kind of a big issue on the reservation. While on the trip we visited many places like newspaper rock, a really nice small museum that showcased Navajo culture and historical background, and is where we  got to partake  in a mini scavenger hunt.  We also went and visited a few canyons and learned that “the canyon is always hungry so don’t feed it”. On the last couple of days there we visited a flea market and learned how to bargain a  bit and try new foods. But overall I would  say that for myself the best time would be when we had our group discussions.  Although by the end of the day we would be dead tired, I loved to hear what everyone had to say after a long day of hard work, sun and adventure. I even asked some of students what the experience was like for them and what they are taking back with them and few students said it was great and they can’t wait to go back and visit everyone.  Many students said they learned that it is okay to be selfish and that while on the trip it taught them to be more confident in themselves and to find out who they really are. At the end of the trip we became a little family and I am glad I got to work with such passionate people.  The experience reminded me of the saying, “no act of kindness however small is ever wasted.”