More than Just a Week-Long Trip: A Journey

Sophomore learns the importance of never taking life for granted

As Stephanie Ivec got on Creighton’s 15-passenger van and prepared for the seven-hour drive to St. Francis Mission in Rosebud, S.D. with 10 strangers, she began to think:

“I don’t know these people. We went out for ice cream last night and this is the longest amount of time I have spent with them so far. Are they going to like me? Am I going to like them?”

What Ivec, Arts & Sciences sophomore, couldn’t see in the future were the people she would soon help, the children she would soon encourage, the culture she would soon experience and the strong bonds she would soon make. Soon enough, Ivec would realize, yes, she did make the right decision and would do her fall break service trip to a Native American reservation in South Dakota all over again if given the opportunity.

Ivec was one of 80 Creighton Students to go on eight different service break trips to Wyoming, New Orleans, Chicago, Iowa, Oklahoma or Omaha.

The service trips, organized by the Creighton Center for Service and Justice, focus on seven pillars throughout the week─ service, solidarity, justice, community, simplicity, sustainability and reflection. Services that students participated in ranged from building houses to helping children.

With the focus of each service trip being the seven pillars, students aren’t allowed to bring homework, cell phones or iPods, but this didn’t bother her.

The purpose of this is to build a strong bond with the people with you, she said.  When you are with people you don’t know your tendency is to text your friend under the table.

“It is so refreshing and enables you to focus completely on what you are doing,” Ivec said.

Following the simplicity pillar, everyone is asked to pack lightly and only bring what is necessary. Ivec and her group made a competition to see who could take the least amount of showers. The group also shared a communal bottle of shampoo.

At the end of each night, the group came together to reflect on the days activities.  As the week progressed, Ivec realized that reflection time became longer as everyone became more comfortable around one another.

The pillar of solidarity is about becoming one with the people you are trying to help, said Ivec.

“It isn’t about ‘you are impoverished and we need to help you now,’ but it is about becoming one, seeing life through their eyes and understanding their life style.”

And this is exactly what Ivec did. Through cultural events hosted by the White Buffalo Calf Woman’s Society, a domestic violence shelter, Ivec learned the importance of tradition in the Lakota tribe. She also realized that the importance of tradition was losing against American culture in the younger generations.  Ivec soon began to see the problems that the reservation faces, problems that couldn’t be fixed in a week.

“I didn’t know anything about Native Americans and it opened my eyes. There is such a contrast.”

She also realized that most children on the reservation are raised by grandparents and that most don’t go or expect to go to college.

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