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Pine Ridge Commentary


Bob Bandoni

08th of July, 2019


Pine Ridge '19

On the first day of this course, we learned that the children’s camp was canceled. Bewildered and disappointed, the instructors engaged their thirteen years of experience leading the Pine Ridge course to create a meaningful program in ethical leadership. The first lesson was handed to us in the news of the canceled camp: how to respond productively to unanticipated, disheartening change.

With the support of an enthusiastic group, as described by instructors, the scheduled cultural and service projects of the first days remained true to the itinerary (described by students in this travel journal) and a connection to a local nonprofit completed the vision for the week.

Today, I asked the course instructors to provide students with the leadership opportunity of recording in this journal their experience thus far, including the itinerary changes, their responses to them, and the first day with the major addition to our programming, Thunder Valley. Thanks to Kate and Max for creating an interesting and helpful perspective with their post – I must say that it helped me with my irritation regarding the change in itinerary.

I would like to add some information to complement their post, sent to me from our course instructors about today’s shift in programming:
“Today we were welcomed to work and learn alongside a local Pine Ridge Organization, Thunder Valley, which provides affordable and sustainable homes to those living on Pine Ridge while preserving their culture. The organization teaches Lakota language, values, and culture to youth through a variety of programs. Most importantly for our students is to learn that the organization nurtures the context of the familial and communal aspect of the Lakota life and provides many common areas of socialization while focusing on their cultural importance of gardening, farming, horseback riding, and even skating in a skate park. The program that SStS begins today incorporates college-level interns from across the country, passionate about instilling the culture in the youth of Pine Ridge – a good example of college level, experiential learning for our college-bound students. We were able to work alongside the volunteers and play with the Lakota kids while learning the unforgettable lesson of their compassion for others.”

In authentic experiential learning, plans can shift, presenting learning opportunities – in leadership, collaboration, and self-management. I’m proud of our group for pushing forward through a situation that, as mentioned above, had me consciously staving off disappointment in order to marshal resources from the home office. Well done everyone!



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