For our multicultural course one of the assignments was to first learn about a vulnerable population (i.e. GLBTQ community, Latino/a(s), etc.) and then go to visit that population in the community and interact with them. I chose to learn and then visit Native Americans, as I learned about their history (from the “White” point of view) but never truly interacted with a member of that community.
I decided to go to the Denver Indian Center and visit their Youth Pow Wow Club, where they teach the youth about the dances, songs, and traditions involved in pow wow. At first I hovered on the outside of the group nervously watching to see if anyone would actually eat what I brought (the club is also a pot luck) and trying hard not to look like a White girl observing them like an animal at the zoo. Soon though, people came up to talk to me (some thought I was Native American) and really involved me in what was going on. Somewhere in all of this, I accidentally became a volunteer. I’m really not sure how it happened, but I am so glad it did! I’ve continued going back and through this experience I was invited to a blessing ceremony and have truly become involved in this community, even though I don’t necessarily belong. It’s been a great way to get involved and leave my comfort zone – plus it’s a fun activity to do for free (which, as a grad student, is something to hold on to!).