Lately, I’ve been in two worlds — trying to enjoy the last few minutes of summer and planning the school year in 7th grade English. I bounce back and forth, doing neither one justice.
It’s hard leaving such a fantastic summer. I can’t remember when I’ve read as much as I have these last couple months (Leviathon, Zeitoun, and The Professor and the Madman early in the summer and American Born Chinese, The Lakota Way, and Bringing the Outside In lately). I was able to travel to some of my favorite places (Mackinac Island, Frankfort/Sleeping Bear area, South Dakota). And there’s still been time to check things off the “to-do” list around the house. Though I’m an advocate for year-round school, there is something to be said for working on one’s bucket list, of sorts.
Last night, some of us that went out to Re-Member got together for dinner. I suppose it was an attempt to continue the experience on some level. While the conversation roamed from Elaine’s many uses of amazing Mighty Putty to Heather’s wonderfully relaxing massages to Jeff’s proficiency at bat removal (without harming the bat), we mostly focused on our time in South Dakota. Mike shared that he, also, had been aware many of the days since our return as to what was happening that day in the Re-Member schedule: Sunday’s trip to Wounded Knee, Monday night’s talk from Keith, Wednesday night’s Community meal and drumming time… We also discussed how frustrating it is to be on the Rez in some ways — disparities between the rich cultural history and the devastating poverty and disturbing garbage piles; the proud heritage mixed with the terrible alcohol problem; the joy in the faces of the youngsters in light of the sad rate of teen suicide and gang activity at Pine Ridge. So, while I would go back to the Rez in a minute (and we are planning a summer 2011 trip), our group is well aware of the challenges…and we don’t have any false notions of “making it all better.”
Which brings me back to the school year. That other thing that’s on my mind. I know we are emphasizing the 3R’s at MacDonald this year: Respect, Responsibility, and Relationships. In many ways, those three are so key for middle school success…and success in life…here and anywhere…like the Rez. I’m sure my experiences this summer will find their way into my daily lessons. I may not have to transition completely from Pine Ridge.