Mission to New Mexico

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At Volunteer Square, we are so proud of the work that our high school interns do for our organization and in their communities. We are committed to working with each intern to provide the training and tools required to succeed as part of the program. Interns are invited to submit guest blog posts detailing their volunteer experiences. We look forward to featuring the intern blogs throughout the spring and I am thrilled to share Cristina Ludwig’s story with you today. To learn more about our internship program and our current Volunteer Square interns, visit the intern section of our site. 

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. 

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