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Impact: Southwest 1 2010

Taking participants to the American Southwest to live and learn alongside new cultures.

Welcome to the Impact: Southwest 1 2010 Blog!

We’re so excited to be able to share all of the wonderful news, tidbits and fun that go on here every summer with even more people. This blog kicks off July 18. Check back frequently to see the most recent updates!

Back to Base Camp!

Posted on 07/28/2010 @ 05:13 PM

Impact: Southwest 1

Success! We have made it back to base camp!

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Our last days with the Hopi were spent harvesting corn, cleaning the village and meeting the elected leaders of the Hopi people.

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Hopi people welcomed us into their offices and explained to us the issues that the Hopi face today and in the future. They willingly answered all our questions and impressed us with how much they shared. It was a great encounter with another piece of the Hopi culture.

Harvesting corn was quite an experience. We drove down to Camp Verde to the corn fields where we met our Hopi friends. Together we picked corn and loaded them into trucks. Corn is a very important part of the Hopi culture and it plays a significant role in the Homedance.

When we returned to our camp site we had Friday Night Services and a lovely Shabbat Dinner overlooking the beautiful desert scenery. It was nice to rest and relax after a week of hard work.

We woke up before the sun and hiked to the village. As the sun rose more and more Hopi gathered in the plaza in anticipation for the Homedance. It was satisfying to know that the village looked nice and that the dancers preparation and rest areas were clean because of our work.

Then, it began. The dancers entered, each holding the corn that we harvested! It was special to know that we played a big part in an ancient ritual. The Homedance was a rich experience. Dancers chanting and stomping in unison for an entire day. Witnessing this beautiful ritual was incredible.

We returned to the camp for more rest and some Shabbat programming planned by the teens. Before dinner we went back to the village plaza to see the end of the Homedance. Our responsibilities were complete and the Hopi appreciated how we contributed. We ate dinner prepared by our hosts and sadly had to say goodbye.

Our journey then brought us to the scenic mountains of Colorado. While in the mountains our group hiked a 14000ft peak. Yes, all of them. At first the teens were unsure but as we stood atop the mountain we celebrated our accomplishment. It was a day no one will forget and hopefully the participants will be able to take on other challenges and obstacles in their lives that they were unsure of getting past or achieving. Fantastic life changing moments!

The rest of our time was spent hiking and exploring the mountains and forest as a group and on our own. We sang, and danced. We reflected and fondly remembered our experience together. Now we are at the Deer Hill Base Camp. Cleaning gear and getting adjusted to running water and the indoors.

On behalf of the staff, I want to tell you how enjoyable Impact: Southwest 2010 was. While the new places and tasks were a huge part of the trip, it was the people, the teens themselves, that made this a once in a lifetime experience that no one will forget.

Sincerely,

Steven

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Working Hard in the Southwest

Posted on 07/23/2010 @ 04:23 PM

Impact: Southwest 1

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We have certainly been accomplishing a lot on our trip and making the most of our days. We have helped and done much with the Hopi village of Hotevilla in many ways. Finishing preparation for the Homedance (which is Saturday), cleaning the spring, collecting trash, and working with the youth of the village on projects, just to name a few. There were even pick-up games of basketball that allowed us to get to know the Hopi kids better. Our participants and the Hopi kids mixed up into teams and shared a friendly competition that helped everyone understand that some things are just universal when it comes to being young. It was a fun time and all involved felt a connection when the games were over.

We have had many educational and meaningful interactions and lessons. Dan, our Judaic educator, has guided the participants in daily learning sessions called Limud. In Limud we have had discussions around the numerous names Judaism uses to describe God, the connection to the desert the Jewish people have and taking our time to appreciate the food we have to eat and where it comes from. All participants have been fully engaged and all have shared some incredible insight and understanding. It is enjoyable to see our group exchange their beliefs in this way and many are now thinking about things they had not thought of before.

Our host Kenny has had our group working hard. During water breaks and downtime Kenny is able to teach the participants about the Hopi culture and history of the village. The similarities between the Hopi and the Jews are many. A deep connection to their homeland and the sad facts that assimilation brings when it comes to preserving tradition. The Hopi are a fascinating group who have endured much throughout time. They struggle with keeping tradition alive in many of the same ways our Jewish communities do. Kenny also took us to the Hopi Cultural Museum where we learned even more and looked at art and studied the past.

In camp, the participants take turns preparing and cooking meals for the whole group. Watching our teens cook and bake is fun, and many are learning how to be more resourceful and independent through this process. We sit in circles and have great discussion, play games, laugh, sing, and just enjoy each other’s company. We have split into Shabbat preparation committees; everyone has a responsibility. The committees are: Shabbat Atmosphere and Decoration, Challah Making, Friday Night Services, Friday Night Shabbat Dinner, Saturday Morning Services, and an Eruv Setup Team . Shabbat in our camp is going to be a special time for much needed rest and reflection.

We can see results and we feel accomplished. There is still a lot to be done but we can see that we have made a difference. We leave the Hopi Sunday and head for the Mountains. We will be in Southern Colorado in the La Plata Mountains for two nights. There we will be hiking and trekking through the range; challenging ourselves in nature and doing things we thought we could not do before this trip. Then, it is back to Base Camp for showers, wrap ups and unfortunately goodbyes. Watching this group come together as community has been very rewarding for the staff . As well, we are extremely proud of how they handled themselves and impressed with the hard work they all are putting in. Their parents have much to be proud of too.

Sincerely, Steven

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Settling In at Impact: Southwest

Posted on 07/21/2010 @ 10:52 AM

Impact: Southwest 1

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Our first day volunteering on the reservation has been good. Our group cleaned out the area where the Kachina dancers will be performing and resting on Saturday. We pulled weeds, cleaned up trash, shoveled dirt, and set up benches for the dancers. Feeling accomplished and sweaty, the group now knows how rewarding this experience will be and how much further we have to go. - Hannah Yacknin-Dawson

The participants are doing great! They set up camp and have cooked their own meals with ease. The group is becoming more comfortable with each other and with the outdoor nature of the program. We have met and had meaningful discussion with our host Kenny and some of his family members. It has been neat to discover the similarities between Judaism and the Hopi. Each day we will have a lesson built around this idea. Last night at circle, we discussed our own Jewish identities and what it means to each of us to be Jews. We shared stories about the times we felt most connect to Judaism and the moments when we were most proud to be Jewish. Needless to say, the exchange of ideas and experiences has really helped to bring the group together.

Over the next few days we will be visiting the springs, and the Hopi cultural museum. As well, we will continue to help the Hopi prepare for the Homedance. Each day will bring a different service project as the cultural exchange continues.

- Steven

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Students Arrive at Impact: Southwest

Posted on 07/19/2010 @ 12:37 PM

Impact: Southwest 1

Dear Impact Parents,

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We are happy to tell you that all participants have arrived safely. We have an incredible bunch from what we can tell so far. Teens from up and down both coasts, the Midwest and Canada, make up our group.

After arrival at the Deer Hill Basecamp, we got to know each other a little better over dinner. The group then prepared and packed for our time on Hopi and in the Mountains. Attached is a pic of our group trying out their new headlamps and flashlights. To close the night we had our first "circle" around the campfire. Circle is how we will end each day while on our journey. It is a safe space to share and discuss feelings and topics relevant to our experience. It was impressive to hear that so many of the participants are stepping out of their comfort zones and trying new things. The potential for personal growth is great.

In the morning after breakfast we will depart for Hopi. It will take between 4 to 5 hours of driving through scenic country to get there. After we arrive we will meet our hosts, set up camp and prepare for the days to come. Performing service, interacting and exchanging with the Hopi, and the chance to help prepare and attend the Homedance is exciting. We are all eager to get started. This is going to be memorable.

Keep an eye out for future updates on our blog and for more pictures on SmugMug.

Sincerely,

Steven

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