Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blog post by Avien

Before coming on this trip, I sat down and thought to myself "do I really want to go to Montana". As we touched down in Montana I looked around and saw nothing but mountains and dirt. My mood completely changed. From the airport we boarded a little bus and headed straight for Browning, the town that we are  staying in. After a tiring two hour bus ride to the bunkhouse we got our bags and settled in. Mr. McVey then told us we were going to be having a meeting with Brother Dale. My first reaction was "there is no way I'm going to be able to sit in this meeting after a long exhausting flight!" We headed over to the brothers residence for dinner and then he spoke to us about what the whole purpose of the trip was. After we finished the meeting, we hung out for a little and immediately rushed into bunks to get ready for a day that was arguably the worst day of the trip.

The next morning came and I was suffering from jet lag and I was the last one to wake up. Everyone  ate breakfast, got dressed and headed straight for the bus. When we arrived to the school Mr. McVey took a look at me and saw the angst look on my face, and said to me "you'll be fine Avien". I didn't bother to respond or look at him, I just kept my head down and wished 4:30 to come. After walking into the school and getting settled in, I walked over to the gymnasium where a bunch of the kids would be playing basketball. I entered the gym looked around and said to myself "wow what a tiny gym I guess I should probably make the best of what I have". I quickly hopped on a team with one of the kids, and off we went with our pick up game.  Knowing the type of person I am, I got bored quickly and walked over to the side where a couple of my fellow classmates were hanging out. Sitting on the side chatting with my friend Ian, he decided to make a bet with me, that was probably going to make me the most loved kid out of everyone on the mission trip. The bet was whether I could dunk the ball or not. I grabbed a ball and told everyone to clear the way. "Bam" I flushed it coming down from the rim all I could hear was a bunch of little kids screaming my name, boy did I feel like a celebrity! We then stood in line to greet each other and off our way we went to our classrooms. After sitting down in the classroom for a couple of hours, I didn't think any of these kids were going to amount to anything in their lives. What a long day it was. The day had finally finished, we got on the bus and were on our way back home. On the way home I immediately started to explain to everyone about how disruptive these kids were and not knowing if I was going to be able to finish this trip in one piece. We got back to the bunkhouse, I was so annoyed and tired I didn't want to deal with anyone. But everyone wanted to go explore so I just decided to tag along. We went to the historical buffalo jumps. As we were climbing up the mountains a mysterious man stopped up and told us to come back down because we were on private property. Walking down I totally thought to myself and said "wow this guy is a total jerk". When we finally got to him he decided to give us a tour of the mountain tops where the buffalo jumps took place. Walking up the mountain he introduced himself to us, his name was Marvin. In a quick response we all introduced ourselves to him. We finally got to the top of the mountain and my whole entire mood changed. I was so astounded by the view, my first reaction was to strike a pose and snap pictures. Boy did we have a blast up there from that moment on I thought, maybe Montana isn't so bad after all. When we were finished with the buffalo jumps I rushed back home with the group and into the shower I went and settled for the night. After dinner we sat around the table and wrote in our journals. I then again discussed about how horrible my first day was. We finished up our journals and off to bed we went.

The next morning I felt much better about the day, but only because it was a shorter day. When we got to school and got settled all the kids seemed much better than the first day. We did some activities and I got to help some kids out with their work. Right then and there I made a couple new buddies that were going to change my experience of the whole entire trip. While working with the kids I created such a great bond with them, even the kids that I didn't get a chance to work with in the other classes still loved having me around to play games and make jokes with. When it was time for us to leave I quickly grabbed my things and headed for the bus. The group and I were headed to  Glacier National Park. The park was such a great experience it was something so different but yet so beautiful. I had never seen anything like it before. We were given a tour by one of the rangers and she did such a great job explaining the history about the park and where it leads to. After the hike we then drove a couple more miles to a new destination where we would see a black bear. Everyone was so astounded to the point they were even taking selfies with the bear. When the day was finally over, my whole perspective of Montana and the mission trip changed. I was so excited about the day I had that I even asked Mr. McVey to talk to Mr. Kavanagh and see if he would consider letting us extend the trip. As of  right now this trip is something that I wouldn't trade any other experience in my high school career for.

Avien Peah

Photo Blog #1

The group at the beginning of our Glacier National Park hike.
 Isabella and Jshontaye at Boone and Crockett.
 Two 6th grade students on their hike at Boone and Crockett.
 The students wrapping up their hike at Boone and Crockett.
 Oliver's selfie with the black bear we encountered at Glacier National Park.
 The black bear we saw at Glacier National Park.
 The 6th grade class at Boone and Crockett.
 Finishing lunch at Boone and Crockett.
 The spectacular view at Boone and Crockett.
The group standing in front of Running Eagle Falls, also know as 'Trick Falls'.

-Pictures taken by Ian and Isabella 
-Mia and Oliver caption credits

Day Four (Niisó)

After spending a day with our fourth graders at Boone and Crocket, we felt as if we were not able to connect well enough with our students. However, given the opportunity in the classroom we are able to fulfill their desire for structure and attention.

One of the fourth graders called me over today and had requested help in his English packet. I proceeded to his desk, asked how I could help and he responded with "I don't know". I was speechless... he did not know what he needed. The boy reiterated the phrase before I eventually said I needed to help other students. He pulled me back and told me not to leave like a child would do to his mother on the first day of kindergarten. The expression on his face told me he was not mentally present. Putting his head on his desk and his want for me to be in his presence was a sense of comfort for him. We both had a moment of realization. The fourth grader needed to feel the warmth of a hug, the recognition from a friend, and relief from someone knowing what's wrong.  He wanted comfort and I wanted to help. I was able to provide a sense of comfort or some type of support he was looking for.
-Gianna L.

Today while the students were working on Math problems, I was able to spend time helping the students. There was one student in particular that I really empathized with while working with her. Throughout the class, she had been doing fairly well on the problems, until question seven. A breakdown ensued and she started to cry. Instead of trying to work through them, she complained about how many problems there were. She went on to tell me how much she hated this class and how much stress it caused her. I began to offer her comforting words and tell her we would take our time and I'd walk her through it. While reluctant to even try at first, she ultimately did not give up. She complied with my instructions and started to understand the material. The brief smile that appeared on her face whenever she got a question right made my day and illustrated the impact that I was on this girl's day. 
 -Evan A.

There is a mix of students in the fourth grade, some are far ahead of the class, some are right where they need to be, and some are behind. Those should be the only three categorizes there are but unfortunately that is not the case. There are a few students who do not even know what they do not know, if that makes sense. Today in class the teacher had me and my fellow leaders teach a few lessons and then answer some questions, all the kids would put there hands in the air wanting to be picked but when called on few actually new the answers to the questions but you could tell they were trying. Then there were other kids who just had there head on the desk waiting for us to just give them the answers so they would not have to do any work. I think the real change in my mood came shortly after lunch time when we went in from recess, it was time for gym and a bunch of kids immediately grabbed a basketball. There is one girl though who was not into it and asked me to come back to the classroom and color with her. I went and she proceeded to tell me how she was moving away to Missoula and she was sad because she had to leave her best friend, family, and even culture behind. This was a huge eye opening experience for me. She is a fourth grader who appreciated her culture and doesn't want to leave. When arriving here I expected the students to be visibly poor and want to get out of this town which was only two generations out of the teepee and experience something new. I am now realizing that we are the ones who are poor. Although these students have behavioral issues, and some have parents who are not there for them they are loved, and they appreciate the beauty that surrounds them. This is not a learning experience for the kids, it is a learning experience for us and I am beyond glad I am here to enjoy it.
  -Kaleigh S.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day Three (Nioókska)

After school yesterday, we all headed over to the buffalo jumps. The buffalo jumps are a historical site where Native Americans used to run buffalo off of cliffs as a hunting tactic. Upon our arrival, we started hiking towards the top, but were soon stopped by a mysterious stranger. To our surprise, the man turned out to be a member of the Blackfeet tribe, named Marvin, who's family has lived in the area for centuries. He stopped our group because he owned the land that we were hiking on. To him, like most Blackfeet natives, this land has a significant historical value to their people. Everything on the surrounding land of the buffalo jumps is considered to be highly sacred, including buffalo bones, arrow heads, and the land itself. After explaining how our group was staying at the holy family mission, Marvin decided to give us an impromptu tour of the buffalo jumps. He provided great insight that we would not have had a chance to learn about. Not only did he expand our knowledge of the history and culture of the Blackfeet tribe, but he also lead us safely to the top of the jumps. The view was unlike anything any of us had ever experienced. 

Despite a rocky first impression, the experience turned out to be mutually beneficial. For us we were able to broaden our knowledge and explore the land. For Marvin, he was able to share with us the tradition, history, and pride of the Blackfeet culture. Following the tour, Marvin mentioned how he was grateful for this opportunity, because sadly this opportunity does not happen often. Now a days, the younger generation of the Blackfeet tribe do not appreciate the value of their ancestry. Thanks to people like Marvin, there is a hope to continue to keep passing on the traditions and culture of the Blackfeet.

Jonah, Isabella, and Ian 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day Two (Náátsi)

We are currently writing from the library at the De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning, Montana. Today marks our second day, but the first day working with the students. The trip from Rhode Island was tiring, but the view surpassed the exhaustion. We were all assigned different grades from 4th-8th grade and will be helping students with assignments in the classroom. We have learned that basketball is a favorite activity among the students, as well as the pecuilar questions they continue to ask us. We have found that the teachers dedicate themselves each day to enrich the knowledge of the students and to reiterate the mission of all La Sallian schools. 

Besides the service of the trip, we are continually entertaining each other and growing accustom to the simplicity of life here in Montana. Since we do not have techonology on this trip, we are able to entirely immerse ourselves in the experience. Even after one day, we are contemplating moving out to Montana!

The Ram Fam 
(Isabella, Mia, and Ian) 

Sunday, April 12, 2015


We leave for Montana one week from today.   I am looking forward to traveling with our students who will learn from the local people about reservation culture and education.  Our students will also live in a small community for the week and learn from one another.