We got back late last night from our donor luncheons in Austin, Texas. After 8th graders Dawson and Kyle shared their experiences living and going to school at St. Joseph’s, one donor asked,
“How many times have you spoken before a group like this?”
“Never!” Dawson exclaimed.
But for a 13 and 14-year-old, they did a great job and now walk a little taller and more confident.
Our donors come from a wide variety of backgrounds. This trip I met two men who became interested in St. Joseph’s Indian School while searching out their own tribal roots. In periods of our nation’s history when tribal people faced persecution, some families kept quiet about Native heritage. Some children were adopted without knowing of their original people or roots. We hope all tribal people, especially our students, can draw on the wisdom and beautiful aspects of their tradition and culture to overcome obstacles and move toward a brighter future.
While in Austin, we had to visit the University of Texas. With over 50,000 students enrolled, if it were in South Dakota, it would be the 3rd largest city all by itself, and not far from 2nd place Rapid City! The students got a glimpse of large scale residential halls, educational buildings and football stadium on a major university.
We explored the downtown area, which in a few places lived up to the city’s theme of “Keep Austin Weird!” The boys got a kick out of the Museum of the Weird, with its PT Barnum-like displays of a two headed calf and exotic lizards. Some of our donors gave the boys Texas sweatshirts and mementos, and the downtown trip gave them a chance to pick up a few souvenirs for family and friends.
For both the boys, it was their first plane ride, and they found it fascinating to see the world from a higher view. When our students travel, I have a rule about food – they have to try some new foods, and I keep a little notebook to have them rate what they tried. Kyle would have broken the old record of 11, but Dawson was very adventurous, setting the new record for the weekend trip at 23 foods he had never tried, and said he’d eagerly try most of them again!
Back on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus today, we have a young guitar-playing folk singer, Jami Lynn Buttke, as our artist in residence through the Artists in the Schools program, through the South Dakota Arts Council. She has been teaching our students some of the old folk songs, which I’ve always loved hearing. She also involves the students with some simple percussion instruments that they can join in making some entertaining music.