I’ve been back on campus for about 3 days and all I want to do is go back to Tennessee. This trip really opened my eyes and exposed me to so many things I would never have seen or done. Our direct service consisted of removing invasive plant species, building 2/7th of a deck, burning dead wood, stripping bark and litter cleanup in a national forest. However, I learnt much more from all of the educational programs we were a part of in TN. Having the opportunity to talk to members of the Snowbird Cherokee community, I realized just how lucky I am to never have been taken advantage of. Most of the stories we heard from Ed and Arleen Decker (our hosts for the week), Shorty (our direct contact with the Snowbird Cherokee community and the coordinator of the fish game) and Archie (a military veteran and member of the Cherokee warrior tribe) mentioned the intolerance the Cherokee have had to face in the past and how the community is still struggling to recover from all those years of hardship and pain. What struck me most during these conversations was that in spite of everything they have been through, members of the Cherokee community have an extremely positive attitude about life. As Shorty mentioned to us on numerous occasions, “You kids need to enjoy and live life every day.”
I don’t this trip would have been so successful if it weren’t for the wonderful team that I worked with. Jason, Joss, Andrew, Jen, Liana, Dena, Kara, Caroline, Ryan C, Megan and Mary…you guys were amazing. I’m a little bummed because I will no longer be going on any more service trips but the lessons I have learnt in my week in TN and over the past 4 years at Lafayette have really prepared to take an active role in changing the world for the better.