Tag Archives: Service Learning

Counseling and Art Therapy students go to South Dakota on service learning trip

Written by Katherine Jackson, assistant professor, Counseling and Art Therapy department

photo 8From June 21 – 27, 2015, graduate students, alumnae, one undergraduate student, a few community members and three faculty members journeyed to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, to work with Lakota Sioux youth at the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) which is located on the Cheyenne River Native American Reservation.

Graduate students in the Counseling and Art Therapy program had suggested about a year ago that we do a service learning trip with impoverished and at risk populations in our own country, and we discovered a wonderful opportunity at Cheyenne River Youth Project. CRYP was founded in the 1980s to help give youth and teens a place to congregate where they could enjoy healthy snacks, activities and socialize. CRYP was a big success from the start, and soon after opening they were able to secure grants and funding to build a new center that could accommodate almost all of the youth in and around the Eagle Butte area. At present, CRYP serves hundreds of children, providing sports, art, tutoring, a youth run coffee shop, a sustainable organic garden, a graffiti art park and a healthy eating program which offers whole food meals every evening for any child in the community.

The Coordinator of Volunteer Service, Tammy Eagle Hunter, explained the philosophy at CRYP, which is “Don’t feel sorry for us and try to help, but rather join with us and together we will make things better.” This statement, although simple, sums up the attitude at CRYP. Everyone is encouraged to help side-by-side with the Lakota Sioux to maintain the community, work with the kids and pitch in wherever needed.

While we were there, we workphoto 4ed on cleaning, landscaping, gardening and organizing the center in the morning. In the afternoons, 30-40 youth arrived to participate in art therapy, nature activities, games, yoga and loving care from the Ursuline group. We provided support, care and lots of fun. Not only did the kids get to do art therapy and create many beautiful art creations, but they got their first taste of yoga. Yoga was a hit with many of the kids because it was so different than anything they had ever experienced.

While we were at the center, we learned first hand how alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, low socioeconomic status and poor dietary habits affect this vulnerable population. Many of the children got their only meal of the day at the CRYP center and endured parental neglect and abuse at home. Despite these hardships, the resiliency of these Lakota Sioux children is remarkable. The children embraced us with open arms and hearts, and we found a welcome home away from home at the center and in the reservation.

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We were fortunate enough to have a Lakota artisan, a bead worker, and a native storyteller and dancer work with us for an afternoon. We learned that the Lakota language is an oral language and thus is almost extinct. The Lakota people are attempting to put the language in written form to help preserve it and also to maintain important Lakota traditions. For example, in Lakota there is no word that means war, and this peaceful tradition is built right into rituals and community gatherings. Most quarrels are handled by compromise, with harmony being a prized value in the population.

One week did not seem like enough time to fully visit and get to know the people at the CRYP center and on the Cheyenne River Reservation. We are hopeful that we can return next year and make it an annual service learning trip to help the Lakota Sioux youth and continue to forge and build relationships with both the CRYP and the Cheyenne River Reservation.

 

Sneak peek >> Summer 2014 Issue

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Sneak peek >> Summer 2014 Issue

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#COMINGSOON Four Ursuline students spent their spring break volunteering with H.E.L.P. Malawi. Read about their experience in the upcoming Spring 2014 issue of VOICES Magazine.

H.E.L.P. Malawi journey: last day

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Final thoughts from the H.E.L.P. Malawi Ursuline College team: Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer, Rhianna McChesney, Taylor Bruno, Maggie Stark and Molly Sabolsky.

Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer. As I sit in the Dulles Airport waiting for our final flight back to Cleveland, I can’t imagine a better trip with Maggie, Molly, Rhianna, Taylor and the entire H.E.L.P. Malawi team. It may have been my third trip, but each visit gets better and better with new and exciting experiences. I was able to visit the local secondary school this time where I saw the four students, Felia, Mary, Ramek and Stand, who we taught sewing to on our first trip in 2011. Such a special moment to reconnect with them! H.E.L.P. and Ursuline have such an important mission to educate and I am so proud to be a part of both organizations.

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H.E.L.P. Malawi journey: day four

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by Rhianna McChesney, Education & English Student

In today’s words of Mr. Wells Sikala, HELP’s Country Director, “Lose nothing, gain more.”

Wells spoke these little words of wisdom after he honked our truck’s horn to alert anyone who might have been walking around a particularly sharp bend in the long, narrow, maize-lined, bumpy and winding dirt road on our way to Mlambe Junior Primary School. Wells lost nothing by honking his horn like a mad man when the gain meant potentially saving someone’s life. Something about Malawi makes it easy to adopt this kind of optimistic mindset.

At Mlambe, one of Nanthomba’s local sister schools, we distributed more drawstring bags and water bottles from IFAW. Before passing out the gifts, everyone exchanged introductions with the area chiefs. It was an honor to meet the people who lead the community here. When it was time to leave, the students crowded around us. Touching their hands outreached in gratitude as we inched our way to the trucks made my heart swell with the joy of everything I have gained so far from this trip. Lose nothing, gain more.

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H.E.L.P. Malawi journey: day three

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by Maggie Stark, Art Student

Day three of sewing!

Today started fabulously with our first African Safari! Guess who saw elephants? Oh yes, this girl! Along with two families of elephants, we saw kudu (like African deer), baboons, wort hogs (yes, Pumba!), water buck, impala, vervet monkeys and a buffalo. It is the rainy season here, which means the foliage is super lush. It was quite the treat to see all that we did.

After the wild safari, we took our tin boat across the Shire river to the trucks located within the park. We all piled in the Land Cruzer heading toward Nanthomba Primary School for our after school sewing session. We passed by students on the road, and they started to sprint in excitement after us.

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H.E.L.P. Malawi journey: day two

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by Taylor Bruno, Psychology Student

It’s only 9:41 AM and today has already been so eventful! Earlier at breakfast a mischievous little monkey jumped right on our table to steal Jessica’s (from H.E.L.P. Malawi) eggs! Although it was hilarious, I ran out of the way instantly because I thought it was coming right at me afterward. Following that we got ready for our daily trip to Nanthomba from MVUU, where we watched the hippos and alligators from the boat dock. After getting to the other side of the Shire, we loaded into the trucks to take us to the school. On today’s ride, I saw baboons for the first time!

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Art Therapy and Counseling in Ecuador: learning through service

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We were all excited to work again (March 13) with the children at ISPED Manuela Canizares elementary school in Quito. Today’s groups consisted of fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, as well as one group of cute four-year-olds! Our group is really hitting its stride now. Our Spanish is improving and the children all know us by name. The children are very creative and so sweet. We are starting to feel sad to leave have to leave in two days.

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Art Therapy and Counseling in Otavalo, Ecuador: the Andes, roses and cowboys

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Otavalo is two hours north of Quito, high in the Andes mountains. It is located just off the pan American highway that goes straight to Columbia, which is three hours east of Otavalo. The Otavalo people are one of the largest indigenous groups living in Ecuador. They are known for their handicrafts, textiles and fabrics, leather goods, coffee, chocolate and roses. There are rose gardens and greenhouses that line the road and flowers are for sale everywhere! Roses are so abundant in Otavalo that the locals can buy a dozen roses for one dollar. The flowers are big business and are shipped daily to the United States, Europe and China. In fact, roses are so important to the Ecuadorians that there is a special room at the airport just to store the roses before they are shipped out!

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H.E.L.P Malawi Sewing journey: day one

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by Molly Sabolsky, Nursing Student

I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this first day at the school was. We entered the yard of the school and we were greeted by so many beautiful, smiling faces. It was overwhelming – so many of the children wanted to touch our hands.

I think the theme of this trip is “go with the flow.” After setting up the sewing room, we were told that we would not have power until the next day, so our sewing machines were not going to work. We switched up our game plan and decided to teach our hand sewing lesson instead.

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