Gap Semester students reflect on Pine Ridge Reservation
Freshmen in Elon University’s inaugural Gap Semester Program completed the first of four weeks of service in South Dakota.
The 15 students spent a week volunteering with RE-MEMBER, a non-profit organization that works with the Oglala Lakota Nation on Pine Ridge Reservation.
RE-MEMBER staff and volunteers work together to build bunk beds, repair roofs and other projects that give back to Pine Ridge and build relationships with the Oglala Lakota people.
During the week with RE-MEMBER Elon students stripped old shingles off the roof of the local radio station in preparation for the instillation of a solar array that will help reduce the station’s energy bill. The Lakota Country Times newspaper wrote an article about the Gap Semester students’ help on the project.
Next up, the students spend a week volunteering in St. Louis. While en route to the next destination, students reflected on their experience. Their remembrances are shared below:
“Listening to the Oglala Lakotas tell stories that had been passed down to them is an experience you could never receive reading a book in a classroom.” -- Kelly Maxwell
"I learned so much about the graciousness and forgiveness of the people that we interacted with, and for me, the quote that stands out is 'mitakuye oyasin,' which translates to 'we are all related'.” -- Andrew Reed
“The Lakota people are survivors: they have faced, and continue to face, profound adversity and continuously rise up to stand for what they believe to be true. They have a lot to be proud of and a culture worth saving and deserving of growth.” -- Cat Hollister
“When you take a step back and take a second to appreciate where you are and what you are doing, you will learn more about yourself and your surroundings than you will ever think possible." -- Corey Shegda
"The truth will always lie buried in the depths of the unknown and untouchable. As we continue to live and expose ourselves directly to different situations, our experiences, observations and emotions allow us to form our own truths that are real to us.” -- Rachel Pileggi
“I had an amazing time and experience working with the strong-willed Oglala Lakota people. Their strength and attitude towards constant adversity will have a positive effect on me for the rest of my life. The wisdom and respect they have and share is truly inspiring." - -Billy Kelly
“We learned the things that weren't in the history books.” -- Savannah Kittrell
“We learned so much about Native American culture that connected with our own culture. But we also learned new lessons that we can work into our own lives.” -- Zachary Angell
“Anything we are doing will change everything.” -- Evan Spanitz
“Even the smallest things can have the biggest impact.” -- Sarah Krulewitz
“Kili Wicasa. (Awesome Man)?” –Chris Grippo
“At RE-MEMBER I learned about the traditions and values that the Oglala Lakota follow in their daily lives.” – Caitlin Noll
“The more you put into a project, the more you will get out of it so make sure to put all your effect into things no matter how small the project might be.” – Danny Bavis
“There was such a sense of accomplishment of starting and finishing a project that you know would be beneficial, and I'm so grateful that I was given the opportunity to help the Lakota people.” – Galen Schneider