January 21st, 2017: Discovery

Click here to see reflections from Saturday, January 21st, 2017
Noon: The Buffalo Jumps
We woke up and had breakfast together (bagels/cereal). At 11, we went over to the buffalo jumps.  The buffalo jump is a huge hill that leads up to a plateau.  This is where the Blackfeet would run buffalo over the cliff to kill them and then be able to use all the parts of the buffalo.  The buffalo jump is a really cool sight to see from the ground, but it didn’t compare to the view we saw after climbing it.  Even just halfway up, we could see for miles.  We saw the snow-covered mountains in the distance, the rolling hills, and the open plains.  The whole view was breath taking.  I have never seen anything like this before.  This is just one of those places you have to visit to truly know what it’s like.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  We had to convince Mr. Parisi to let us go all the way to the top, but was careful to make sure we stayed away from the edge.  Just as Jack and Jill joined us this morning when we went on a little hike, two other dogs came out of nowhere and lead us around the buffalo jumps.  It was really random, but they were friendly and seemed to like us. I can’t wait for the rest of this week. ~Stephen
4:59PM: Drum Maker Darryl 
When we got back from the Buffalo Jumps, we had lunch prepared by Mr. Bobak (Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup). After lunch, we drove past the town to Darryl’s Tee Pee Lodge and Gallery, where he instructed us on how to construct real native drums. Darryl’s Lodge is really fascinating, and people all over the world have visited his lodge (notably Robin Williams). The drums are made out of a wooden circle, then elk hide is fastened with elk hide strips. I was nervous about making the drums because it was something I knew nothing about. The smell was interesting too, and in the words of Sam Glock, “It smells like culture in here.” It was a great experience to immerse myself in the Blackfeet Culture, because I knew nothing about the Blackfeet before going on this trip, except for what I read on a Wikipedia page. Tomorrow we will go back to paint and finish our drums after they dry and tighten. Today was also the day where we saw Browning for the first time. Seeing Browning is an eye opening experience, because at the foothills of the giant Rocky Mountains sits this little town of about 12000 people. Browning is not your average city though, because it is very small. There are no skyscrapers, in fact the tallest building in the town is a water tower. Seeing a little bit more of the reservation today has me very excited for the classrooms on Monday, where Jake and I will help out with the fourth grade. I am very excited to learn more about the Blackfeet, and I am excited for the week to come. ~ Cole 

11:15PM: Discovery
Every night this week we have the chance to gather as a group and reflect on our experiences from the day. Each time we do this we will talk about anything we want to talk about but will also frame our day around a word. Today our word was “discovery,” which was particularly important to me. While journaling, I realized that today I discovered a new quality that I am starting to see in myself, which is positivity. This morning I woke up and was truly excited to be here, and I let this positive energy set the tone for the group and getting everyone else excited for what we were going to do. I have realized that a lot of this positivity comes from me looking forward to expanding my relationship with God and my relationships with others. My positive energy can help lead the others to grow closer to Him this week as well. I know that God has led me here for a lot of reasons, and today I discovered that one of them is to not only make this week great for myself, but to make it great for others by encouraging and challenging them to seek growth in their relationship with God. ~Sam
11:57PM: Breaking Down Barriers
Spending a week in an unfamiliar setting with nine unfamiliar guys is an awkward yet cathartic experience.  Once you get past the barriers that we all instinctively build and have transparent, meaningful conversation, you go from being an Immersion Group to a family.  That’s what we did tonight.  After discussing the questions regarding our reasons for being on the trip, we went around the table and talked about our fears, personal projects, aspirations, and lifestyles.  Mr. Parisi gave us the floor and we were able to circumvent the trivial, surface-level small talk and tune in to each other.  While the service we’re doing at the school is extremely important, that late-night group reflection is most definitely the defining aspect of this trip.  I look forward to continuing this throughout the week, especially as we encounter new experiences and gain new perspectives every day.    ~Malcolm