Graduation day…

today is officially the last day of the pipe line, 2 weeks came and went ridiculously fast. I enjoyed every minute of this experience, the students and staff members have become FAMILY to me :] after having spent 2 entire weeks together I feel like we have established a bond that is NEVER to be broken. During my time spent here at Pitzer as a mentor, I have learned a lot about myself, we have had several amazing speakers, I must say the ones who had the biggest impact on me were Adrian Pantoja and a gentleman by the name of Hector. Adrian spoke about immigration, this topic really hit home, a lot of times I tend to take opportunities and a lot of other things for granted. Immigrants come to the United States for opportunities, whether it be money or an education, I am blessed to be where I am today and to have accomplished everything I have accomplished thus far in my short 23 years of life. Hector spoke about seeking and fulfilling our purpose here on this earth. I currently hold a bachelor of science degree in Anthropology with an emphasis on Cultural Resource Management as well as a minor in Native American studies, prior to coming to this program I was having a hard time trying to figure out what it is I wanted to study in Graduate school, I now know that…I want to pursue a Masters degree and PhD in American Indian studies with and emphasis on tribal law. It is my way of giving back to the Native community, as well as my way of saying “Thank You” to my ancestors- those who came before me, the ones who laid the foundation for my existence. On a different note, one of the highlights of the program was a day trip to Universal Studios in which we were able to go behind the scenes of movie sets and were able to talk to important executive people who work in the media industry, they talked about the importance of Networking, a lot of times your chances at being successful are increased/facilitated based on who you know! We also had an all access pass to the theme park, all the students and mentors got to ride on the attractions for a few hours, it was soooo much fun, all of the participants in the program, mentors and students alike were able to connect and interact with one another on a personal level. My favorite part of the program was our time spent at the Southwest Museum. It provided the students with insight on the field of Anthropology and emphasized the importance of preserving our heritage/culture for future generations. I also got to see 2 personal friends of mine who are employees of the museum, Karimah Kennedy and Liliam Posadas :] I have not seen them since we worked together doing archaeological fieldwork on Catalina Island last summer! On a final note, I vow to promote and perpetuate my culture today, tomorrow and always! I will use my degrees to fight social injustices within Native American communities ❤

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Dance

yesterday Dalia Nunez, a professional dancer, showed us the basic/core moves of salsa dancing. It was really interesting, I had a lot of fun. Some of the students in our program help to perpetuate their community through various types of cultural dance…we have students in the program who Hula dance, Jingle Dress dance, and Bird Dance. Through their various forms of dancing they are helping to keep their/our culture alive! I am both blessed and honored to be working with such a diverse group of Native youth =)

Traditions, Customs, and Beliefs

yesterday we had the parents of 2 of our students come in and talk to us about Hawaiian culture. As an anthropologist, I enjoy learning about other cultures. I loved the lecture about Hawaiian culture because it highlighted cross cultural differences and similarities between Hawaiian and Native American cultures. Although these cultures are in different locations/areas of the world, we share the same traditions, customs and beliefs. For instance, in Native American culture, Elders are highly respected they are the heart of our community, it is the same in Hawaiian culture. This just goes to show that although we may be isolated from each other in terms of location we are all still one in the same, for we are all connected through our traditions, customs and beliefs. Thank you for your lecture Mr Chang! ❤

Western University…

was a mind blowing experience. The students and I had the opportunity to participate in a human anatomy lab in which we were introduced to various body parts such as the brain, heart, and lungs; we were able to work with real human body parts. Being able to hold the heart of a deceased individual who had undergone multiple bypasses really hit home…About a year ago my mom had a couple of blocked/clogged arteries and had to undergo open heart surgery…Being able to hold the heart in my hands not only exposed me to but also helped me to further understand the causes and effects of a blocked/clogged artery. I am truly thankful to still have my mom around today, she is thee best :] ❤

soooo proud

one of the 2 young ladies I mentor was a member of a winning group at todays Agua Caliente Youth Leadership Expo. There was a group contest in which students were asked to come up with an idea for a video game, and to then come up with a sales pitch. Needles to say the winning team got tickets to Disney Land! Way to go Elka!!! :] ❤