by Nina Kudimova
This morning I started my day with an early morning run behind the Lakota College with Peyton. It was a beautiful sunrise after a storm filled night. The run included seeing a wild horse and a beautiful landscape.
We went to the Crazy Horse School and started off by practicing some archery with Elroy Cross. He told us that the sport required a lot of discipline and practice. I could certainly vouch for that, because my first few shots were way off target. Later in the day we learned the eight pillars of leadership with the Lakota youth. We did the sliding scale game to show that when it comes to honesty and ethics there are often “gray-in-between” areas. We learned that making a difference in someone’s life can be as easy as smiling or complimenting them, and that kindness and respect goes a long way to improve someone’s quality of life.
When we came back from the school, I was able to attend my first horse rodeo. I was shocked to see children under four feet tall riding a 1,000 pound beast with precise control. They made navigating through an obstacle course in under a minute look easy. For a split second I was confident that I could do it too, but then I realized the only thing I could do on horseback in under a minute was get thrown off.
After the rodeo, Nahmie and Tricia fed the pack of hungry lions (a.k.a. the Health Science Academy students) tacos. As someone who had never tried a hard shell taco, I was excited to finally participate in the age long debate of which is the superior taco… hard shell or soft?
After dinner we loaded up our vans to go on a buffalo excursion. On the way there, our “soccer mom party bus” was the scene of a sing-along that was painstakingly cringey. I am happy to report that the buffalo excursion was a success and we ended up with a bonus of an unforgettable sunset (as pictured). As a result of the three hours worth of car ride, my peers and I bonded more than we had in the 9 months of classes during our first year at the academy. I am sitting in my tent now writing this and I cannot help but smile because I am filled with a warm feeling of satisfaction.
What I’ve learned while here is that this is a give-take experience, and that we are definitely bringing home more than we came with. We are learning leadership skills with the Lakota youth, while bringing home extraordinary experiences and new found relationships.