After a week of training in Minneapolis, I am finally in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. My job with Youthworks is Kid’s Club Coordinator. Every week we will have youth from around the country to learn about Lakota history and culture and serve in the community. I will be facilitating a day camp for community kids where we read stories, sing songs, play games, make crafts.
One of the best part of my first few weeks as a Youthworks employee is getting to know my fellow staff. Liz is our Site Director; she oversees our ministry and community interactions. She is a middle school Spanish teacher and going to graduate school for history. John, our Ministry Support Coordinator, is an AmeriCorp member currently working as an outdoor therapist. Nathan is our Works Project Coordinator and worship leader. He studies Music Education at Northwestern.
Despite being a born-and-bred East Coaster, I am falling in love with the Great Plains. My first night in South Dakota consisted of visiting the Badlands, complete with buffalo and prairie dogs. Yesterday when I woke up, a herd of horses were grazing by our church. Unlike in my home of suburban New Jersey, dogs and horses here roam free. Every time I see a horse galloping sans fence under the open sky, I am reminded that I am in the most beautiful place in America.
To learn about the community I am getting to know this summer, check out this TED Talk by Aaron Huey. He brings a lot of the issues Pine Ridge is facing into the light.