Student Reflects on Service Trip to Wind River Reservation
Creighton University Arts and Science junior Alex Shepherd had no idea what to expect when he visited the Wind River Reservation for a service trip this past fall.
Many students at Creighton voluntarily give up their fall break every year to help others in need or to immerse themselves in the lives of others through service trips. This year 190 students were sent to 24 communities across the nation, including communities on Native American Reservations.
Shepherd who traveled to the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, felt through the experience he was able to gain an insight into the Arapaho way of life and culture. He visited multiple schools, ate meals with the families and helped out at the mission through service.
“The Arapaho way of life is very interesting; however, I believe it is also why there is a lot of poverty. It’s tough to balance the native culture with the modern culture,” Shepherd said. “Many of the children do not realize the importance of education as it is not stressed as much in their culture…I think the challenge is how to get children more involved in education especially college education…the other challenge is how to get educated Native Americans back to the reservation to help.”
Shepherd also got the chance to experience a traditional sweat lodge. Although the temperatures affected him and he only completed one round, he noted that the whole experience is very spiritual and religious.
Shepherd said he was thrilled he got the chance to spend time at Wind River. “It was not what I was expecting, but I learned a lot about the culture. It is a beautiful culture. The people are very nice and work hard. I hope to continue to learn more and hopefully go back again one day.”
In the more than 30 years since the University’s service program began, more than 4,000 Creighton students have used their spring or fall breaks to serve others and learn about social justice concerns such as poverty, immigration, homelessness and environmental justice. This program is sponsored by Creighton University’s Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ).