A South Dakota Experience by Maleny Guerrero

I have always enjoyed community service, whether in the city or traveling to other parts of the country. The feeling of working to help others is amazing. A couple of weeks before the end of my freshman year at Parsons, a great service opportunity came my way. The service trip gave me the opportunity to travel to South Dakota for a week to build houses on a Cheyenne tribe reservation for Habitat for Humanity.  The trip was arranged by Nick Krebs in the OSDA office. Our group consisted of thirteen volunteers made up of 3 faculty members and 10 New School students.

When we arrived in Eagle Butte, South Dakota one could feel the tranquility right away. It was peaceful yet weird because I’m accustomed to the chaos and fast pace of New York City.  Every morning was a battle to get up, but once I smelled the delicious breakfast that was being cooked by the chaperones and my fellow students, my eyes were wide open.

All of us had to be ready for work by 8:30 each morning.  Once we arrived on the job site we were given specific tasks and instructions. The good thing about working with each other was the encouragement and motivation we gave one another. If we didn’t know how to use a tool anyone who knew how would teach without any judgment. We got the tasks done fast, had fun learning from each other while learning how to build, construct and tear things down.  Our team got along like a family.

We were received well by the community and bonded quickly with them too. They were very grateful for our help and were very humble people. As a history lesson, I listened to and believed every word that the Cheyenne tribe members told us about their struggle

and what their ancestors had to live through.


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