Experience A Summer
Service Learning Opportunity Among the Lakota
Immerse yourself in authentic Native American culture, participate in workshops to strengthen empathetic listening and respectful communication, and provide your academic skill sets to your Native American peers to help them achieve greater academic and personal success. You will travel to one of the poorest counties in the United States to gain a greater understanding of social justice issues affecting Native Americans. The things you experience on this trip are life-changing, and we expect participants to want to contribute to a greater dialogue in the Native American fight for equality and religious freedom.
The Lakota Summer Fellowship is open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as well as recent graduates of Williamson County Schools.
When & Where
The inaugural Lakota Summer Fellowship will take place in the Cheyenne River Reservation community in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. The trip is tentatively scheduled for early June 2018. Our hope is that this inaugural cohort of 25 students begins an ongoing partnership with the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
Cheyenne River Youth Project
"When you have poverty added to the historical trauma, you have to step into places that are uncomfortable in order to do the work that we're trying to do with our kids."
~ Julie Garreau, from the Square documentary, Lakota in America
For nearly a century, it was illegal for Lakota Indians to freely practice their religion. The Lakota Tribe is well-known because of a trio of Chiefs: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Red Cloud. And, while we know these names, the culture is less well-known to us. This is because the Lakota, as well as other tribes, spent decades dispossessed of their spiritual practices, religions, and native languages. Until 1978, when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act passed, generations of Lakota were raised in the absence of their native culture. The Cheyenne River Youth Project, headed by Julie Garreau, is working with a determined generation of young Lakota to create a stronger economic and cultural future—embracing their strong Lakota heritage and moving forward.
About the Cheyenne River Youth Project
“What we’re trying to do is create the next generation of the Lakota workforce, so they can make the decision to walk away from poverty.” -Julie
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, located in Eagle Butte, South Dakota in the Cheyenne River Reservation community, lies at the heart of two of the nation’s poorest counties. CRYP strives to help Lakota youth build the confidence and skills to establish solid lives for themselves, all while highlighting and celebrating Lakota traditions -- a daunting task in a community stricken by poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism, and suicide.
“If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
~Australian Aboriginal Elder Lilla Watson
Young people are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to getting the education they deserve and particularly opportunities to go to college–things most students take for granted. Resources we do not even consider – hats and gloves in the winter, school supplies, and age-appropriate books, among many others – they have little access to. This community is vastly underserved and underrepresented.
We will bring tutoring, school supplies, enthusiasm, and a heart for empathetic listening and respectful communication to our peers so they can overcome some of the disadvantages and difficulties they face.
“We want to be a positive influence on the kids in our community, and so we’re dedicated to providing them with access to the future they deserve.”
Through the Lakota Summer Fellowship, Diversity Leadership Project hopes to build a sustainable partnership with Cheyenne River Youth Project that offers both groups of young people opportunities for academic success, increased conflict resolution and nonviolent communication skills, and the resources they need to live the best lives possible.
Stand With Standing Rock -- Mni Waconi (Water is Life)
Students who participate in this service learning project will make a day trip to Standing Rock, the scene of violence against the “Water Protectors.” Long after the confrontation with a private army owned by an oil pipeline company, many Water Protectors remain in jail awaiting trial.
Through every activity, we will focus on helping building cultural awareness, self-esteem, leadership skills, and trust in their own authentic self. We will offer seminars to parents and students about academic advancement, increasing academic opportunities, and engaged learning.
Enhance Your College Prospects
Participants will memorialize their experience on their own Diversity Leadership Project profile page with the assistance of Nashville independent filmmaker Sean Kelly, and create their own video along with an essay on their experience. Topics they will explore may include diversity training, compassion, and nonviolent communication. This offers an opportunity to experience something that could inspire your college application essay, as well as demonstrate to college admissions officers that you are interested in participating in projects that impact a diverse population different from your own – one of the top things highly competitive schools look for in prospective students.
Authentic Immersion Experience
This service learning opportunity offers students an authentic immersion experience. Our students become a part of the Cheyenne River Reservation community, interacting daily with their peers from nearby high schools as well as other members of the community. We will also visit local sites and participate in activities that encourage cultural awareness and improve social justice, in conjunction with teens in the area.
We plan to raise $5,000 through GoFundMe to be used for school supplies and other items needed by the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
We will also provide a template for each student to raise their own funds to support their trip.
Safety and Security
Safety is our top priority, and we plan to provide an adult-to-teen ratio of 8 to 1. This allows us to effectively supervise and interact with our students and maintain a safe environment for learning, interacting, and growing.
The trip will be lead by Randall Bedwell, President of College Path Consultants, LLC and cofounder of Diversity Leadership Project.
Sean Kelly (www.SeanKellyFilms.me) will provide documentary support for each student to create their own short documentary film of their experience.
Audrey Bouvier, cofounder of Diversity Leadership Project.
Catherine Cadden (not confirmed) has been an educator since 1987 finding alternatives to teaching, learning, and conflict resolution that work with the principles of nonviolence. She is a certified trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication bringing over 14 years of experience practicing, living and teaching Nonviolent Communication (NVC) internationally to participants of all ages. Website: https://playinthewild.org/
Other educators to be named.
The cost for this unique service learning opportunity is $2,295. This includes airfare, meals, and accommodations for seven days and six nights in Eagle Butte, SD. We expect this to be an inclusive cost, with only meals during travel and any souvenirs not covered. The trip is limited to 25 students, so it is important to apply early. A deposit of $500 will hold your spot. All money is due by March 1, 2018.
If you are interested in joining us for this life-changing trip to the Cheyenne River Youth Project for tutoring and restorative justice work, fill out our application here:
Fees and Policies
- Round trip airfare from Nashville, Tennessee
- All daily meals
- All local transportation
- All group events and activities include tickets, meals, and transportation
- Travel Assistance Insurance is provided in case of delays, lost luggage, etc.
Your $500 deposit is required within seven days of your acceptance into the Diversity Leadership Project summer program. If this deposit is not made during this time period, you will lose your spot and need to reapply for this summer learning opportunity. We expect the 25 spots to fill quickly, so you will not want to let this happen! This deposit is nonrefundable.
The remaining balance of $1,795 is due no later than March 1, 2018, along with your proof of medical insurance and other required documentation.