From June 17-25, five Neumann students and two staff chaperones attended a service immersion trip on the Wind River Indian Reservation outside Riverton, Wyoming. This reservation serves two Native American Tribes, the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho Nations.
All seven painted and landscaped at various churches in Ethete, Saint Stephen’s, and Fort Washakie, Wyoming. They also performed various tasks to support the ministry work being done on the reservation by Sr. Teresa Frawley, OSF. In addition, the participants visited a nursing home in Fort Washakie, offering a vocal performance for the residents, and painted and landscaped at a Head Start program in Fort Washakie.
The students who attended were Gilbert Crabbe, Elizabeth Blevin, Ericka Martinez, Emily Colonna and Re’alle Harold. The two staff chaperones were Melissa Hickey, director of Campus Ministry, and Stephanie Fortunato, assistant director of Alumni Relations.
“This experience was life changing for me,” explains Colonna, “and so much fun at the same time. I had the chance to see a side of Native American life that many are not aware of, and it helped me to appreciate their native traditions and spirituality. This experience also helped me to truly connect with God and nature. It helped me to realize that small acts can make a big difference.”
Fortunato concurs. “I recognized that even the small things we do can truly make a lasting impact, even though we may not get to witness that impact.”
The group also had many cultural opportunities on the trip. They attended the Shoshone Indian Days Pow Wow on June 22 and 23, and took a culture and spirituality tour given by a local Arapaho native. “We completed our trip with a visit to the Grand Teton National Park,” recalls Hickey, “where we saw not only the majestic mountain range, but also wild buffalo grazing in the lowlands and crossing the road right in front of our van. It was quite an experience for all.”
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