Today was a very long day. So long, in fact, that it began with events unfolded last night. While we were all getting ready for bed, the heaters started to make this very unappealing smell, so much so that we turned off the heaters...but forgot to turn them back on. So the day today started with a very brisk wake-up call and a freezing morning. After getting ready in the morning, the day proceeded with the standard protocol of getting to De La Salle early and teaching in the classes. A reoccurring topic that Gabe and I have been helping the kids learn is how to participate in receiving the Eucharist. Today was the day that they would carry out their First Communion in Mass. It was incredible to hear all the reasons why the Eucharist is important to each of them, and watching them take it for the first time today was exciting. I love to see God’s presence in their lives and how even 4th graders can understand the importance of faith. After the mass, we ate lunch and returned to the classrooms, except the teacher went home sick and the principal was the substitute. We were not as busy as usual. By the time school ended at 4:30, we were finally put to work by aiding in the set up for the fundraising BINGO event for the 8th grade trip to Chicago. Then, we all went to the local shop called the Trading Post to purchase souvenirs to take home, put the items in the car, and returned to school to aid the BINGO night. We came home at around 9 o’clock for reflection and preparation for our last day of teaching tomorrow. (TJ, Class of 2019)
Coming Full Circle
Today was a long one (as if they all haven’t been though). We spent roughly 15 hours out and about, I almost forgot what it was like to be in the bunkhouse. School was a “normal day”, which means it was total chaos. There was a handful of drama between all the 5th graders today. I might have seen the school counselor 15 times today, everyone wanted to talk to her. The student volunteers told me that the kids have been progressively acting worse lately. I can tell. Today we had mass across the street at 11:00. Some kids had their first communion and it was cool to see the community pull together on a windy, bland Thursday morning for a primary school mass. Some of my students had rough days. There were tears many times. One kid was scolded in the hallway, sent to the office, received his first communion, injured by a falling bookshelf, visited by the counselor, and checked out early by his parent all in the same day. I can’t believe how much some kids will endure throughout a school day and still come back with their chin up on the next. Today I’ve noticed how tight my relationships have become with some of the students. Obviously, not all of them are overjoyed by my presence. Some are just naturally quiet, others have been through too much to open themselves up. Either way, I love being with the kids, even if they’re throwing water bottles and punching my arms. One student that has really earned my admiration is this girl named Rain. She is so focused on learning, on the contrary to most of her classmates. Yesterday we played Jeopardy in science class and Rain was on my team. We came in second place and I noticed her eyes starting to water up. She is inspiring.
After the school day, we ran over to the Blackfeet Trading Post and embraced our tourist side. Although I might need a shift at work or two to make up for my expenses, I picked up some valuable mementos for my family and myself. It reminded me of how much I miss them, only a couple days left though. Following our shopping spree, we fought against a 40 mph wind tunnel just to walk back to the school. Once defeating the bitter wind monster, we set up for the school’s Bingo Night, a fundraiser for their 8th-grade field trip to Chicago. After setting up the tables and chairs, we grabbed some dinner and participated in the Bingo affairs. We had Indian Tacos and strawberry cake. None of us won in Bingo; except for Finn, he won a kit of cologne, aftershave, and deodorant. Mr. Bobak may or may not have taught us how to cheat in Bingo, which may or may not have involved using shredded paper bits to mark our spots so we could reuse our boards. That might have happened, I cannot confirm though.
In retrospect on a grueling day, I am noticing a pattern of things coming together. The students and I are starting to solidify our relationships. My fellow immersion students and I are forging tight bonds. We even created a handshake where we lock hands and say “Neeksookoowah”, which means “family” in the Blackfeet language. It’s a shame that our tangible trip only lasts for another day or so, but I know that my spirit will always be with Montana. (Brady Organt)