By: Sammy Johnson
In a time lapse of approximately 6 weeks, I have traveled through a variety of communities. Starting in the Wind River Valley to backpack for the first 4 weeks was physically and emotionally difficult, however moving into civilization and communities facing poverty and other societal issues was a different type of challenge. Backpacking for hours every other day only pushed me to the limits of risk management skills. The community of the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota pushed me to learn to empathize and gain a perspective that appreciated the culture found on a reservation. I learned the most about empathy when working with the children of the Cheyenne River Youth Project. To understand some of the anger rooted in the children, I had to ask questions to find the cause of it and not show pity towards them. They residents of the community do not need our pity, but only empathy. They need someone to understand and relate to them in some way. I am still challenged in this task. Backpacking taught me how to help myself in situations of feeling lonely, now service learning is teaching me how to appropriately help others without offending them or showing disrespect with unwanted offers of how to fix things. We continue to drive on towards St. Louis, Missouri and continue our service learning. I have optimism that I will learn more about myself and my abilities.