This semester I have been serving as an intern at the Global Partners office. A very rewarding part of the internship is participating in one of the trips to Pine Ridge, where we get to see the fruits of all the work in the office. Finally getting to meet the volunteers and our community partner’s face-to-face helps to round out the internship experience.
On Monday, we visited to Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge. The excellent education at that private institution was impressive, and I realized that this is the exception to the rule on the reservation. Our tour guide at Red Cloud has a bachelor’s degree and is currently working on a master’s degree with hopes of becoming a tribal lawyer. Her brother is currently at Arizona State and has hopes of getting into medical school so he can become a neurologist. Both of them want to return to Pine Ridge to serve their communities. The desire to return to the reservation to serve their tribe was opposite of what I expecting. In the past, an education was a ticket away from the reservation, and those who graduated never returned. I was wondering how other schools on the reservation measured up to Red Cloud. I was hoping that I would see similar aspirations from the youth, but I feared that there would be a great divide between a Red Cloud education and a public school education. High School dropout rates on the reservation average around 70 percent, in sharp contrast 81 percent of seniors at Red Cloud Indian School graduate on time.
The most rewarding part of the trip was seeing the impact that the Gundersen/Health Science Academy (HSA) teams make in the Wanblee community. During the First Aid Fair at Crazy Horse School, we had one student approach Annette and she told of an emergency that had happened to a friend of hers while they were out hiking. The student, her father, and a friend were out hiking when the friend broke her leg during a fall. Remembering the first aid skills she had learned the last year during a Gundersen/HSA trip, she was able to splint her friend’s leg using travel books and strips of a shirt they ripped apart, stabilizing the leg until they could get help. The student and her father used carrying techniques to assist their wounded friend until they could get her to a medical facility, which on Pine Ridge could take over an hour to reach. She was thankful for the knowledge she had gained from the Gundersen and HSA first aid and health fair conducted.
Over one hundred Crazy Horse School students participated in the First Aid Fair on Tuesday. The students were very involved in the activities, particularly the “accident scene” where they were able to apply the skills they learned during the First Aid Fair. Four Crazy Horse students who have travelled to La Crosse for the Health Careers Camp assisted with the First Aid Fair as well, it was nice to see the friendships between the students from HSA and Crazy Horse in action.
I talked with two of the students from Crazy Horse School about their plans for the future. One student has applied to a college in North Dakota with a goal of earning his degree in criminal justice. The other student has a goal of becoming an Army medic. A couple of volunteers and school staff who know these students commented on how they have changed since becoming involved with the Health Careers Camp and assisting Global Partners teams. It is for those reasons that our community partnerships exist. Empowering individuals to make a change in their lives and in their communities.