In April of this year, 11 students and four faculty members (Stacey DiLiberto, Stephanie Frueler, Christie Miller and Michael Robbins) from the Osceola Campus traveled to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota as part of a service learning course within the Seneff Honors College Leadership Track. Valencia’s service learning courses give students an opportunity to apply knowledge from their courses while meeting the needs of the community.
The group volunteered their time with Re-Member, a non-profit organization that coordinates volunteers with the Oglala Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation for non-evangelical outreach projects. The organization has two facilities with dorm rooms where the volunteers stay during their trip.
During this seven-day service learning project, the group worked in teams to construct and deliver bunk beds to nine families in need, added skirting to the base of mobile homes, built stairs up to mobile homes and set up a community garden.
These types of services are desperately needed by the Lakota people, who according to the 2000 Census, are in the third poorest county in our nation with an unemployment rate of more than 80 percent.
The Service Learning department shared that the students were profoundly impacted by their experience with the Lakota people, Andrew Moldanado, a student volunteer, said, “I feel like I know more about who I am now than I did before because of this trip, even though I have more questions now than ever.”
If you have questions about getting involved or would like more information about service learning, please e-mail Robyn Brighton, director of curriculum initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org.