I always grow concerned when I hear the wail of an ambulance siren. One day last week, it cried loudly outside St. Joseph’s Indian School. But no cause for alarm – the ambulance was on campus to present to our students for Native American Career Day.
Paramedics showed our Lakota students the equipment they use to save lives, and talked about what the job as a first responder entails.
Another group from Catholic Social Services runs the Lakota Circles of Hope program. They work to prevent elementary students from abusing drugs and alcohol. From the medical field, St. Joseph’s students heard from a physical therapist and a woman overseeing medical records for Indian Health Services. The state Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes talked to the students about showing the values of sportsmanship and care while pursuing the games we all love.
The presentation which fascinated me the most, was hearing from an alumnae who went into law enforcement. I knew Fancy when she was a tiny baby and I worked in Red Scaffold, South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Now, she stands 6’2” and with her police vest and equipment on, she is an imposing figure!
But, she has learned good people skills. While she can be strong and tough when needed, she shared with the students that she gets more done not by the use of force, but by kindness and checking in with people. She asks about what is going on, and builds relationships in the communities she works in. She listens to the hurts and suffering.
I asked Fancy how she deals with the ugly side of life, where she sees things no one wants to see. She said, “I pray. I pray for the people who are hurting. I pray I can take care of my kids. I pray for strength and compassion. And St. Joseph’s helped teach me the importance of that.”