Summer Schools Help Indigenous Students Prepare for College | Voice of America

The University of India in North America, located at the Crazy Horse Memorial near Custer, hopes for a more successful transition of indigenous students preparing to attend college.

The 7th Generation Summer Program, an eight-week program in partnership with the University of South Dakota, provides indigenous students with the opportunity to live and work on the campus of the University of India in North America. The program includes paid internship experience and the opportunity to earn 12 college credits.

Enrollment Management Associate Director Whitney Rencountre said the program aims to prepare students to enter the world of higher education with the tools to succeed.

“We brought (students) here, earned 12 college credits before the year of freshmen, developed a cohort of students who are future young indigenous leaders, and even after graduating from college. It provides the tools to stay in touch, succeed and guide, and I think it was a really big success for our program, “said Rencanter.

Indigenous students graduate from college at a statistically lower rate than any other demographic. The Rapid City Journal reports that Rencanter has about 23% of indigenous students graduated from college, compared to 47% of all students.

Bridging the gap by teaching students about time management, financial literacy, work habits, and life coaching is one of the program’s main goals.

Rencanter said the program was working. Eighty percent of former students who responded to the program survey are either enrolled in or graduated from college.

According to Rencanter, when these students enroll in their home country’s institution, the professors are “amazingly” ready and have the skills to succeed, such as proper time management, study and work habits. Say there is.

“Whatever their dreams, we’re trying to help them achieve it. It literally saves them from poverty. Education continues to be a great equalizer,” said Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation President. And COO Laurie Bekbar said.

According to Rencanter, indigenous students are often first-generation college students.

“Traditionally, the (indigenous) family circles were so close, and even today, many of our family circles are so close that they face the challenge of being alone when someone leaves. I will do it, “he said. “One of the successes of this program is that our leadership is all indigenous and most of us are also first-generation college students.

“So we help students prepare for the culture shock they face when they go to college, defend themselves, and provide students with the tools to survive the difficult times of being lonely and away from their families. . ”

Preparing to go on to university

Doris Tinsley, the program’s student success manager and former student of the Wisjipan Autumn Program for seniors, said the University of India in North America was built for people like her.

Originally from Long Island, Tinsley graduated from Virginia Tech last year and returned to college during the gap year to attend law school.

“Students don’t have to experience that culture shock because they’re mostly indigenous women who were in white educational institutions and go to mostly indigenous environments with all sorts of expressions. It’s like me. An indigenous-led team created for people, “Tinsley said.” The connections I have made as students are more for native students, especially those like me who want to pursue tribal law. I learned about the opportunity. ”

The location of the university program at the Crazy Horse Memorial is reminiscent of the beginning of the monument and the Black Hills as a traditional sacred place in the Lakota, Bekbar said.

“I don’t think there’s anything like this in the world. It’s a moving story about not only the indigenous people, but also when learning in the context of the monuments and stories behind this monument, that is, never giving up. ., About having a dream and realizing your dream. That’s why we exist today, “she said.

Becvar said one of the ways monuments give back to indigenous communities is to educate indigenous youth. This program is not an exorbitant expense for students — most of the tuition and fees, books, and meals and accommodation are paid by the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Students pay only $ 850 for an eight-week experience, Becvar said. Students have the option of deducting funds from their internship salary and the opportunity to regain 50% of their meal and accommodation costs at the end of summer.

According to Bekbar, the summer program is highly competitive. We accept up to 32 people each year, usually about 75 applications.

The 2021 program enrolls students from 10 different states and 29 different tribal countries across the country, from Alaska to Oklahoma to California.

According to Rencanter, being with indigenous students from other tribes allows students to learn about other cultures. This is something you usually don’t get in public schools.

The courses in the program are general early classes, but indigenous culture is deeply rooted in all course work. All professors are indigenous, and students read indigenous literature, learn indigenous arts, and go on weekend excursions to sacred sites to learn about the history of the land.

“We teach our students that they need to represent their families and communities wherever they are,” says Rencanter. “When they start to realize that they can be proud of their families when they leave the community, they will see sparks in their eyes.”

According to Rencanter, this program is called the 7th generation. This is because indigenous leaders predicted that they would begin to prosper again in seven generations after the colonization of Europe effectively destroyed the lifestyles of indigenous peoples.

“It was people like Black Elk who predicted for this trauma … it would take seven generations to start returning to normal,” he said. “So now the 7th generation is happening, where our students are trying to advance a new tradition in terms of healing, harmony, growth and support.”

Miguel Eagle, a student at Ogura La Lakota College, who majors in Lakota studies with an emphasis on cultural tourism, participates in the high-level student summer program at the Indian University of North America after participating in the first year of 2019 experience. doing.

Eagle will return to Crazy Horse in the fall for a long semester program of Wisipang on leadership and sustainability. He said the program was a truly wonderful experience and changed the course of his college career.

“It helped a lot to relieve the stress of graduating from high school and going to college,” Eagle said.

The program also helped me understand what I wanted to do in my life after graduating from college, Eagle said. He plans to earn a master’s degree in education after completing an undergraduate course.

“I’m a caring person. I’m a mentor and I love teaching people. I was surprised to have it this year,” Eagle said. “As a senior student talking to a freshman, I realized that I love helping such people. It surprises me — until I come here that I’m interested in it. I didn’t think. ”

One of his favorite aspects of the program is Friday’s family night. There, students meet after work and class to relax and enjoy home-cooked meals prepared by various groups of classmates. There is also a series of guest speakers who talk about the indigenous history of the Black Hills and the Great Plains.

Recent programs have been about the Battle of the Little Bighorn, or the Little Bighorn.

“Many of us robbed us of a lot of information, not just relaxing, but empowering us,” Eagle said. “You can hang out and learn about people’s backgrounds … it’s really an exchange of empowerment from students and guest speakers.”

He said he was trying to emphasize to people that students were being used for their labor as part of their internship, rather than pawning at the Crazy Horse Memorial. According to Eagle, students are learning how to become professional employees.

“I like to see it at face value … and I like to see how deeply this (program) is rooted in mutual support between native and non-native cultures,” he said. “We’re not just here to make the monument look good. We really take things home and the community and apply them (skills) to make the community bigger.”

The program is rewarding, but Rencanter said most students did it with the right support and found the experience rewarding.

He said that many students are not accustomed to always being encouraged by adults or making people believe in them. This program provides a positive place for students to change the direction of their lives in the direction they desire.

“I think it’s important to overcome difficult times and continue to be encouraged. I think students are developing it while they are here and (even after they leave),” Rencanter said. ..

Summer Schools Help Indigenous Students Prepare for College | Voice of America

Source link Summer Schools Help Indigenous Students Prepare for College | Voice of America

Back to top button