Serving and Learning on the Rosebud Reservation – AWOL Alternative Weekend #7

On the road

On our way to Rosebud we stopped and took a picture with the river. We have our participants (from front to back) Andrew, Marissa, Michelle, Kirsty, Geralyn, Stephanie, and Vanessa. Andrews long arms substituted for a selfie stick. #GoAWOL

Living in a world of blissful oblivion is something that many of us can claim guilt of at one point in our lives or another. We get up every morning, eat breakfast, drink coffee, get ready, and then make the trek to class. We eat lunch, study, work out, snack, study, dinner, study, and then we crawl into bed and do the same thing all over again. Of course we can add some extra curricular activities in there, but for the most part we go about our days not too worried about what is going on in the rest of the world. A lot of the tragedies we see and hear about on the news are so far away that many of us don’t feel like we can do anything; and while it is true that distance makes that service hard, we often neglect to realize that there are so many wonderful people that need help that are within our reach. The severity of my oblivion was made blatantly obvious this past weekend as a group of six other USD student’s and I made our journey to the Rosebud Reservation.

After a long drive, a quick dinner, and a great night sleep we started our Saturday morning by dropping one group off at the Rosebud Ambulance Service. Now I am not sure if anyone reading this has ever been to Rosebud, but street signs are not a thing. Therefore handy-dandy Siri cannot find anything… But alas, we didn’t find this out until we had driven all the way to a dead end and called the Ambulance Service re-direction. Our directions from them came in the form of, “go down past the gas station and take your third left after the fence post”… Yeah… that luckily landed me in the driveway of a very lovely man who turned us in the ‘right’ direction (we actually went left though… please laugh at my joke). This man drove us to our hospital turn, and literally pointed us in the direction we were supposed to go by sticking his arm out the window. He took a little detour from his path to show us where we needed to be, and that is when I first fell in love with the people at the reservation.

Of course we had to display a little AWOL love while painting at the Rosebud Boys and Girls Club. #GoAWOL

Of course we had to display a little AWOL love while painting at the Rosebud Boys and Girls Club. #GoAWOL

After bidding half our crew ado, the rest of us ventured back to Habitat for Humanity where we were to meet the Executive Director of the Rosebud Boys and Girls Club, Glen Marshal. Glen and his lovely dog Copper tookGeralyn, Andrew, and I back to the Rosebud Boys and Girls Club where we painted an entire inside wall of their building. The building used to be the home of a BINGO group, so yellow smoke-stained walls were what greeted us. Our task for the day was to paint one of the massive inside walls white in order to brighten up the building. Copper the dog lay by our ladders shifting every now-and-then so that we could scoot the tarps. We learned a lot about the Boys and Girls Club from Glen; and all the hard work that the staff, community, and volunteers have put into its reopening two years ago. The selflessness of the Rosebud Boys and Girls Club community is indescribable. Everything they do is for the children, and to ensure they have all the resources possible to have successful futures. Two of the boys who frequent the club came and played Taylor Swift and MathWiz to keep us entertained while we painted.

After about seven and a half hours of painting we turned in for ‘nap time’. Geralyn, Andrew, and I were going to be pulling the 8pm-8am ambulance ride-a-long shift, but instead of napping we ended up devouring half a bag of chips and salsa, but shh.. don’t tell anyone.

We were really looking forward to the ride-a-longs because all three of us are very interested in the medical field, but of course when you want something like that too much it never comes. The entire 12 hour shift consisted of one false-alarm call, which is absolutely unheard of. This was disappointing for the experience, but such an amazing thing to happen because it meant that no one was in need of critical medical care that night. So while being mildly disappointed and overly hyped-up on coffee, we cleaned up parts of the ambulance station, got to know the paramedics and EMTs, and mastered the art of Hackie Sac-ing.

After all of the service on the ambulances we, of course, had to take a selfie. #GoAWOL

After all of the service on the ambulances we, of course, had to take a selfie (again utilizing Andrew’s long arms). #GoAWOL

While talking to the paramedics and EMTs we learned a lot about the deficiencies in the reservation healthcare system. There are not enough medical practitioners out there, so much of what the ambulances do is transport patients to Sioux Falls and Rapid City. They don’t have the tools, medications, or specialists required to perform some medical procedures; and often times that leaves the patient very few options for survival. It was inspiring to listen to the paramedics and EMTs talk about how much they have learned, and how you just have to take advantage of what you have in front of you to get the job done.

This brings me back to my point about peaceful oblivion. So many of us are eager and willing to go out and save the world, but we forget that there are people in our nearby communities that need saving too. It took five minutes for me to realize that my life was forever going to be changed by the people of Rosebud, and for the experiences they gave me and lessons they taught me I will be forever grateful. This is what AWOL is all about. Taking lessons we learn through serving others and embracing them in our hearts to bring back to the Vermillion community, and utilize those tools in the rest of our lives. So with that I will leave you with a question, what are you doing to pull yourself out of peaceful oblivion and make a difference in a life around you?