It is one thing to read on a subject, but it is an entirely different matter when you get to experience it. This is a simplified version of how I feel tonight. I’m ecstatic, because I feel as if I’m going to learn not only about myself, but about my country, different people and their ways of life, and that is a wondrous opportunity. At the same time, I want to check my privilege.
I think many people meet others who are not like themselves and tend to question and pry as if the other person they have met are a test subject rather than a human being. I have been guilty of it myself – so lost in the excitement of learning and trying to relate my culture to someone else’s, I have forgotten to pause and see my counterpart for who they are. Yes, culture makes up a lot of a person, but every one is a collection of their experiences, not just their ethnicity. So, although I am excited, curious, and a bit impatient, as well as nervous, I want to caution myself to always see whoever I meet for who they are, and not ‘what’ they are.
I am so excited to leave for TN this Saturday; I’ve never been to this part of the country! I am looking forward to meeting members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and spending some much-needed time outdoors. I have had so much fun getting to know my teammates this past fall so I know this trip is going to be amazing. I am eager to learn more about the customs and daily life of this culture. I know very little about the tribe, but I know I will learn a great deal as this week goes on. The Eastern Band of Cherokee avoided the Trail of Tears, which is why they are able to remain in North Carolina and Tennessee, along the Great Smoky Mountains. I am excited to see how they interact with their environment. I am eager learn about homesteading, help with trail repair, remove invasive species, interact with the community, and see what else our hosts have in store for us! Maybe we’ll get to do some hiking too! I hear we are going to learn some Cherokee games. Hopefully, we will learn more about their history and the Smoky Mountain region from their perspective! No matter what our hosts have planned, I know this will be a rewarding and unforgettable experience for all of us :D LET’S GO ROOTS!
As the trip swiftly approaches I’m getting more excited! The preservice information we learned concerning sustainability of food in the environment gave me great insight into what to look for in this environment. As a whole, my mind has been buzzing with curiosity and excitement ever since we finished our preservice. I’m excited to engage in all the service activity and also learning about the Cherokee way of life. It’s truly a once in a life time experience and I’m glad I get to spend it with all my awesome team members in a few days! Tennessee here we come!
Only five more days until we leave for Tennessee; it’s crazy how fast the trip is approaching! With such a wide variety of service (homesteading, park preservation, and giving back to the Cherokee community) I’m not totally sure what to expect this week. We could rebuild homes and learn about the natural disasters that rip through the area, work to remove invasive species, or begin to learn about living off the land. Luckily we had the chance to talk with Professor Brandes about sustainable farming and water use, so our week of education and service has already begun. Regardless of the adventures we embark on I know it’s going to be an amazing week for this entire ROOTS team, who has done a superb job preparing all fall. With the stunning Smokey Mountains as a backdrop and so much to learn from our hosts and the Cherokee community, I can’t wait to head out on this adventure and begin a memorable week of service in Tennessee!
I can’t believe I leave for Tennessee in a week. Where did December and all of January go? I’m not complaining, though, because quite frankly I’m going stir crazy. I’m so excited for ASB 2014. I can already tell ROOTS is going to be an amazing trip. I can’t wait to really get to know my team members, but most importantly, come to understand the lives of the Cherokee Indians that occupy the region we’ll be exploring. I’ve really never studied anything pertaining to Native Americans, except of course how the white man pushed them out of their own territories. I’m hoping to build unforgettable relationships with these beautiful people while giving back to their community. Plus, I’ve heard the Smoky Mountains are pretty breath-taking, so that’s also a plus. I should probably start packing in these next few days… See you soon, Tennessee!