January 22nd, 2018: Prayer & Spirit

Click here to read more about our immersion trip and our first experiences in the classrooms of De La Salle Blackfeet School...
              Today was the first day of school, which meant getting up two hours earlier than usual, eating a quick breakfast, and getting to the school. Since we go to the school before any of the kids, we played basketball as a group. As the kids started to trickle in, we dispersed throughout the gym to get as much interaction with them as possible. We expected the kids to be pretty good because of how big of a deal basketball is in this town, but we didn’t expect them to be this much better than all of us. After basketball, the students all sat down with their grades in what the school calls “assembly”. After all the usual beginning of the school day rituals like saying the pledge of allegiance and reading the announcements, as well as their prayer asking God to guide them and keep them away from drugs and alcohol, the actual classes began.
              The first class of the day was science, so the sixth-grade class walked over to the lab. I was asked to sit next to a girl and help her with what they were doing. In response, the girl moved as far away from me as possible and moved the book so that I couldn’t read it (off to a great start). I’m not exactly proud to say that I handled this situation in probably the worst way possible; I did basically nothing. The only thing that makes me feel anything good about this experience is that I have four more days to make up for it. After science, I helped the same kid for the rest of the day, and I did a much better job (at least I think and hope). We walked through his math problems, which were addition word problems, together and got through about 30 pages of his book.
              After classes end, the school has “enrichment club”, a time for the kids to get their work done, and for my partner, James, and I to cut out cardboard circles to make into shields. We finished cutting out the shields and went to our first presentation of the trip with a senior from Browning High School named Martha who generously answered all our questions about life on the reservation. That was the end of the interesting events of our day, since we just came back to the bunkhouse, ate dinner and ended in our evening reflection. ~Ray’19
Today was our first day serving at the school. We woke up before the sun and headed right there. The silence in the car on the way up greatly captured the overall feeling: typical morning grogginess mixed with an uncertainty of what is to come of the day. Once we arrived, we started playing basketball. The closer to the day’s beginning, the more kids filtered into the school. I made the mistake of inviting one of the first kids to arrive to go right before me in our game of knockout (properly titled "Lightning" here) and then proceeded to drain my first shot behind him, eliminating him. Needless to say, this cruel act led to immediate disapproval from the group. After the games, the students all sat in the gym and standard school morning procedures were followed out, plus the Blackfeet anthem and our introduction of course. Ray and I then went back to our room and began our assistance in the 6th-grade class. Class to class, we were assigned to work with the kids who struggled the most with the different subjects or just sat in as a student of the class. Many of the students seemed to struggle with staying focused during class, continuously playing with trinkets and trying to start conversations with other students or Ray and I. When called upon though, most of them either knew the answer immediately or were quick to solve the question at hand.
After the school day, we had an interview with an alumnus of the school who is now a senior at Browning High School. That has definitely been the most insightful part of this entire trip on learning how the Blackfeet community works, thinks, and acts, and will provide us with more base on how to better interact with the students. We headed home after the interview, had some solid story sharing on the ride home, eating and reflecting on our experiences. We all are very excited about what else there is to come this week after the fun and unique experience we all experienced today. ~James’18