Tag Archives: Arizona 2015
From Morgan ’16
On Saturday we went camping near the Black Mesa on the land that our friend Lena grew up on. She welcomed us by telling us about what it was like to grow up on the site where we would be staying the night; no electricity and no running water. Next, we all were instructed to explore the surrounding area and collect firewood so we would be able to cook dinner. Hamburgers, hot dogs, Lena’s special stew and of course fried bread were all on the menu. We all took turns making fried bread, but of course none of us could make ours anywhere near as perfectly round as Lena’s. Continue reading
From Quinn ’17
Today (June 19) was our last Friday here in Kayenta, as we will be leaving this coming Wednesday. So far, the heat has been our main concern but we are bearing through it. Our teaching is going well as it has been for the past two weeks. The remainder of this post will be a mildly edited excerpt from a journal entry of mine, detailing our day on Wednesday (June 17).
“I started today with Mr. Nez telling me stories and lessons from his past. At school, I started with My Side of the Mountain, as usual. So, for today’s “sketch-and-write,” an activity in which students draw a picture and write a descriptive sentence of twelve or more words after each page is read, my teacher had the students do one picture and sentence for clumps of three pages. This only drew out the time and led to more of the students being confused. I then had the students compete (the best motivator for them) to see who could, in ten minutes, make the most four or more letter words using the letters in “courageous.” As usual, I had to do these exercises with two different groups. For after lunch class, I played the $10,000 game again. Students roll two dice, numbered four-through-nine, take the sum in $100 and $1000 bills, and so on and so forth, until someone gets the $10,000.
After the school day, we went to the flea market, in its main location, fully staffed and attended. Following the market, we left for Brian’s house. At his house, we each made a piece of frybread using dough, which had already been prepared for us. We then added meat with beans and rice, as well as toppings, so as to make so called “Navajo tacos.” After dinner, we went on a walk, with the hardest part being running (voluntarily) down and then up a sand covered hill. However, the high point was when we stopped at a pool, created by rainwater, and filled with tadpoles. We then walked back to Brian’s house, and drove back to Kayenta.”
This is somewhat like what our days have been. However, since this is a blog mostly for parents back home, it should be noted that each student’s responsibilities and activities may not be exactly like those described here, your child’s experience may differ. Regardless, we are all well, and, at least for the most part, in relatively high spirits. This weekend we will be camping in a hogan (a traditional house, now used mainly for ceremonies, although some Navajo still live in them) out in the desert, as well as hiking and the like.
Two days into our second week of school and all is well. Our first weekend away from Kayenta went smoothly, and we all enjoyed the break from school. Today after classes ended (and GS grades came out!) we headed out of town and towards Monument Valley. The ride was just under a half hour—a blink of an eye compared to some of our other commutes—and we arrived as the hour neared 4:00 p.m. Despite it being late afternoon, the sun was still strong and the temperature high (think mid 90’s). The views, however, made up for the heat.
As we drove through the Valley, we made frequent stops to leave the car and admire the landscape from a better viewpoint. These breaks from driving were welcome, as the road was unpaved and painfully bouncy. I have no doubt that the cars that drive through regularly have outstanding suspension! The rock formations, formed by years of erosion, were wonderful to see. We also enjoyed the opportunities they provided for climbing.
At one of the stops we made, there was a family selling jewelry. Along with them they had a small puppy. They were charging for photos in an attempt to raise money to care for it. The puppy’s name was Jim and it was very difficult to let him go. Our second animal encounter of the day occurred right after we left the park. Our two cars were starting the five minute ride to the restaurant where we were stopping for dinner when they were forced to stop. A horse was crossing the road! It lounged across the pavement just as any deer might do back in Newton, PA. The day wound down with a relatively quiet dinner at a restaurant that appeared stuck in the last century-ranch style, brown plastic facades, and all. Bringing the evening to a close was a brilliant night sky. Never before have we seen so many stars shining so brightly. It was a magnificent sight.
Apologies for the limited updates, but internet access has been spotty out here.
PA Time: ?
Arizona Time: ??
Navajo time: ???
Let me tell you something about time: it makes absolutely no sense at all. My roommate Morgan and I set our alarms for 6:30 a.m. knowing that we would need time to get ready for school. We woke up the next morning to find that our clocks were not set to the correct time in the first place, putting us in great danger of being late. Panicked, we looked around our homestay to figure out what time it really was on the reservation, but to no avail; all the clocks in the house were set to very different times. To help ourselves out, we made a list of what we knew about Arizona time
1. Arizona is three hours behind Pennsylvania
2. The Navajo do not observe Daylight Savings Time
3. Thus, in light of fact #2, the Kayenta reservation is only two hours behind Pennsylvania time
Well, that didn’t help us at all.
Generally confused and terribly unsure, we got up, showered, dressed, and texted Barb that we were ready for school whenever she was. We found out later (only after sitting around the house for two and a half hours) that we had woken up at 4:00 a.m., Navajo time. Great start.
That Afternoon, at School
Good news: The Kayenta kids did really well academically during the 2014-15 school year.
Bad news: Because of this, there are not enough elementary school classes to fit the number of George School volunteers. Yikes.
Our group was split from the get-go. Six members of our small group went to work in the middle school while a mere 4 (including myself) stayed behind. This worried me a little––I had taken for granted the security of having a partner, or at least knowing all my Georgians would be just a hall away. My friends gone for the foreseeable future, I feared that I would prove inept as a teacher’s assistant and would be forever loathed by the entire population of Kayenta and their children whom I so terribly disappointed. Perhaps they would toss me off of Flagstaff, the tallest mountain I’ve seen in my time here. Maybe they’d just oust me. I don’t know, but considering the fact that I will be eighteen in about a month and I am just as confused as my fourth grade class about the function of a conjunction, I think I deserve some form of punishment.
Five Hours Later
Conjunctions aside, so far my irrational fears have not been realized. In fact, today went absolutely swimmingly! During English, I helped a boy named Rowdy (he has hair down to his ankles) compose a short personal statement about summer school, and he muttered under his breath that I was cool. Later, in PE, I introduced a bunch of games from my Waldorf days, and the kids decided I was their new favorite thing about school. All the res kids (my host sister included) have begun calling me Great Bear for my strength and fuzziness, and I think the name is growing on me. The kids are all so kind, and it tickles me that they seemed to respect me from the very beginning. Now, that may have something to do with that fact that they think I’m 22 years old… Whatever. I’ll let them believe what they want.
A Brief Note on Update Infrequency
Sorry we haven’t been posting as regularly as some of the other service trips. Here in the desert, we have cacti, tumbleweeds, mountains, and lots and lots of sand. We do not, however, have Wi-Fi. When we do find a connection, it is always iffy, making posting updates very difficult. We’ll post whenever we have the opportunity, but we just want you to know that these opportunities are few and far between, and consistency is never guaranteed.
We hope you’ve enjoyed any posts that have managed to come through thus far. We are now off to continue on our journeys of service and spiritual self-discovery, and will write as soon as we can.
From Elvis, religion teacher and Arizona service trip co-leader
“Everything in Kayenta is farther than you think,” Steve told us on the first day of school. He is the principal of the elementary school on the Navajo Indian reservation in this desert town six hours drive outside, and north, of Phoenix, Arizona.
Summer school is in session in Kayenta. Mornings on the reservation are busy with kids and parents bustling to school and work. The sun has a tendency of greeting you first. It is just that you cannot ignore it, even if you try. We carry around bottles of water as if they are a strange but necessary appendage. Continue reading
This year George School students will be participating in a number of service trips throughout the world. This spring trips will go to Brazil, France, Mississippi, Nicaragua, and Washington DC. This summer groups will travel to Vietnam, Costa Rica, and Arizona. More information about each trip is below. Continue reading