High School Mission to New Mexico

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We are TWO DAYS AWAY from accepting submissions for our 5th Annual High School Essay Contest. As we lead up to the contest, we have been re-posting some blogs written by our high school interns. We hope these will inspire high school students in CT to send a submission to the Essay Contest and share with us "Why volunteering and making an impact on your community is important to you?" Note: Submissions will ONLY be accepted November 1st - November 8th. To learn more about the essay contest or volunteer opportunities in your community, visit our site today and sign up to receive custom emails when opportunities are posted. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too!

On a Mission for School Break - By Cristina Ludwig, Milford CT

This past February break, I traveled with a group of students and staff from my high school, Lauralton Hall (Milford, CT), on a mission trip to Tohatchi, New Mexico. The trip to Tohatchi, which is part of the Navajo Nation, is only one of many ways for students to participate in Lauralton’s Campus Ministry program.  In addition to the chance to travel to the Southwest, the trip was an opportunity to learn about a different culture while serving others.

In Tohatchi, we worked with the St. Mary Mission, a group of  Franciscan sisters, brothers, and priests who are dedicated to helping the diné. (Diné is the Navajo term for “the people”).  Our duties included cleaning, painting, organizing and delivering food, and even helping at Bingo night.  As we worked, we made connections with the people and their families served by the mission.

In addition to service, we also had the chance to take a day trip to Arizona.  We visited Window Rock, the seat of government and capital of the Navajo Nation, and the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. In addition, we had the opportunity to hear a presentation about history and spirituality from a Navajo speaker, participate in an evening of native crafts, learn how to make Navajo Fry Bread, attend Mass, and experience a traditional sweat lodge.  We even got to stay in a traditional Navajo home (or Hogan), which is circular to represent unity and faces east to the sunrise.

I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to go on this trip.  It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.  The beauty of the people, their rich culture, and stunning landscape left a lasting impression on me.  I also have a new friendship with a girl my age, and we have been staying in touch via Facebook.   I hope to continue to stay connected. 

Even though our service work wasn’t easy, I returned home feeling renewed.  I was inspired by how friendly and welcoming the Navajo people are, despite their many challenges.  To me, this wasn’t just an alternative school break – we had the chance to become immersed in the St. Mary Mission community, get to know the Navajo people personally, and be of service to those in need.