North Central College - Naperville, IL

"Trail of Tears", Multicultural Affairs spring break trip

Nine students gave up warm weather and headed northward for their spring break to learn more about Native American history and culture. They spent a week living with residents of the Mohican reservation called Stockbridge-Munsee, located near Shawano, WI.

“Visiting areas that are directly connected to an important part of history helps us better understand who we are and what our responsibility is to help others,” says Viviana Kabbabe, director of multicultural affairs and trip organizer. Last year, she escorted a group of students through historical cities in the Civil Rights movement.

The Wisconsin trip involved performing service projects at a local church and helping process maple syrup. The students also learned many lessons from their hosts, who shared their life stories and ongoing frustrations as Native Americans.

“I thought their largest struggles were in the past, but I was really surprised to learn that Native Americans are still struggling with the government, are not fully accepted by everyone and are still attempting to keep some of their traditions,” says Lisa Mueller ’11. “I loved how much respect was shown to the elders and that made me feel guilty since my grandma lives five minutes away and I don’t visit her enough.”

Kabbabe expected that the group would perform more physical work but instead the service came about by their presence. “The true service of the trip was taking the time to learn more about them and their culture,” she adds.  

Breakaway service trips in March included: Habitat for Humanity, Mobile, AL, and Gaithersburg, MD; United Methodist Committee On Relief, Hurricane assistance in Galveston, TX; Center for Student Missions, Washington, DC; L’Arche Harbor House, Jacksonville, FL; and Casa de Los Angeles, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

North Central NOW Spring 2009