SWAV or Students with a Vision, a community service based club on St. John Fisher College’s campus, sent a group of students to a Mohawk Indian community in Fonda, NY for a long weekend in October. Looking for the chance to learn about the Indian culture and help them to prepare for the coming winter months this trip became a new and exciting opportunity for SWAV E-board members to expand their outreach of assistance. Being one of the members on the trip, I can speak for myself when I say it was one of the most amazing trips I have ever had the pleasure to go on let alone be a leader of.
The weekend was a mix of education and hard labor. We had our meals with the Mohawk people that still live in the community and run the community and they would tell us stories, dreams, and lessons that they heard along their path through life. For example, they told us how the bear got his short tail and how the chipmunk got the stripe down its back. We learned about residential schools that took Indian children away from their families as well as the history of the Mohawk people even surrounding the Indian community itself. Then, we were also put to work making kindle for the fires, brushing horses, dismantling different structures around the area, and helping to feed the chickens and turkeys. I have a new respect for hard work, and especially for the main volunteer that lives there and does the work of many men every day. This Mohawk Community continues to be a place for people, especially Indian people, to learn about their customs, learn their language, and regain the knowledge of the Mohawk people. The way that they keep this place alive and refuse to waste anything is both inspirational and life-changing. I didn't feel like just another volunteer, instead I felt as though I was welcomed in with respect for my own culture being willing to learn about another’s.
The community service office is working to make this trip into a spring break trip, which I think is awesome, because I would recommend this experience to anyone who has an open mind and willing to do a little hard work. Experiencing new things, new situations, and new lives is the chance to gain information about the person you are, and I love, love, love that St. John Fisher, SWAV, and the Student Government Association on campus allowed the student body to create a trip that gave us the opportunity to do just that.