group reflects on spontaneity
vs. schedules, sharing instead of saving, and making history
the earlier installments in this series?
Dispatch 1: Going home to the Rez
Dispatch 2: Sharing different roads to college
Reservation, California, Day Five —
cleaned up at Ms. Johnson’s home, had our
last reflection session, and departed Campo.
learned and absorbed so much knowledge, awareness and culture
from the Kumeyaay community. From the moment we entered the
community we were treated with sincerity, warmth and hospitality.
a meticulous outline of all the events that we were scheduled
to perform during our break. However, I quickly learned that
the schedule was irrelevant. As it turns out, the most worthwhile
experiences were the events that were unplanned and unscheduled — the
oral stories passed on by the elders, playing peon with the
kids, talking with the boys at the YRTC, being presented
from the community members, and all the brief interactions
with the youth.
the first or second installments
written by the Kumeyaay volunteers?
takes place beyond the classroom. The discussions I held with
the community members, youth
and elders have
overshadowed all the conceptual and abstract theories on
and culture I’ve learned in lecture auditoriums.
It was a privilege and honor to lead such a dynamic and
of UC Berkeley students and graduates, who continually
motivated, entertained and encouraged me throughout the
trip. As I sought
to inspire others by my words and my testimony, in the
end I too became inspired by collaborating with my peers
interacting with the Campo Kumeyaay people.
Kreth: Spontaneity can be quite a challenge at times. You are
stuffed and filled with apprehensions about what
will happen next. Yet spontaneous reactions can be an
to help to assess your actions and responses. Sure, I
can sit in on all the Socratic seminars, engage in debate about
topics, establishing arguments in theoretical, sometimes
abstract analyses, but I deprive myself of a more practical,
foundation. The Kumeyaay community in Campo helped me
link this missing perspective. I came in with many assumptions
intentions that the Kumeyaay demystified and clarified
in my short stay.
reciprocity of learning and education was exciting as it embodied
the force of community empowerment.
I had to constantly nudge in order to get a response
during an Alternative High School tutorial session
was the same
danced intuitively and with such a strong sense of
cultural awareness during the Bird Songs. Or Fred, with whom
got into a historical
debate over representations of heroes and enemies in
American society, was the same young man who had all
of the peon game floating and permeating in his cranium.
school system had flunked him.
last thing students need are people to come in with
the charitable mentality of 'saving' them…It
became really important to send a message of empowerment
and encouragement rather than one of fixing the wrongs."
does get frustrating to realize that such potential does not
have the opportunity
to materialize. The last
need are people to come in with the charitable mentality
of "saving" them.
But I think that through interactions — be they
in the form of workshops, talking circles, making dreamcatchers,
just by our mere physical presence — it became
really important to send a message of empowerment and
encouragement rather than
one of "fixing the wrongs."
Singer: My experiences on the Kumeyaay reservation amounted
to a crash course in social inequality,
Native culture, and
teambuilding. For five days, I absorbed knowledge
like a sponge and developed
relationships that have impacted my life in permanent
ways. I take from this trip a message that was
to me in high school: the fierce struggle for
equality in Native American communities continues.
Johnson: I think that we made history. Pretty much that’s
just the way it is. Since the break I have been getting
all kinds of good feedback from community members. Parents tell
our group worked with their child on math and now
he is doing better in that subject, or how we encouraged their
child to go
to school more and try harder. And it’s been
asked many of times, "When are you all coming
Being from Campo, I know how hard it is to try
and do something positive and get support for it.
much you will
have to struggle and you maybe even fall a few
times. I think that
the only thing the kids in the community need to
succeed is the support from someone who cares,
and that is
exactly what the
Alternative Breaks group gave to them.
The Berkeley volunteers show off their new t-shirts.