On March 19, the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) was invited to join a dinner conversation with 10 Native youth from the Blackfeet Nation visiting Washington, DC through a high school exchange initiative.
The exchange program was made possible through a partnership with the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. The students from Montana organized their school’s first Human Rights Club, and held fundraising efforts to make their trip to DC possible, which included Sidwell classroom visits; meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill; and the dinner with local DC Native American professionals.
CNAY joined partners like Tracy Goodluck from the Secretary’s Indian Water Rights Office at the U.S. Department of the Interior; Jonodev Chaudhuri from the National Indian Gaming Commission; and other influential leaders in Indian Country. Each guest introduced their academic background, described their journey to DC, and shared a brief description of their current work before answering students’ questions.
CNAY looks forward to staying connected with the schools and highlighting their exchange initiative. Many thanks to Sidwell’s Studio Art Teacher Anna Tsouhlarakis (Navajo Nation) for the invitation to participate!
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Browning High School (BHS) worked with Sidwell Friends School’s Equity, Justice and Community initiative to coordinate an exchange program between the two schools, which culminated in a trip to Washington, DC in March, 2017.
In preparation for this learning experience, a Human Rights Club was developed at BHS. Student club members meet every other Monday to explore issues of human rights in the Browning community, the nation, and the world at large. The BHS students have been learning about the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Students from both schools met with each other virtually in January, and collaborated to select topics of local, national, and international human rights violations to read about, study, and problem-solve together.
Students from Browning High School and Sidwell Friends School got to know each other through their respective educational environments. The learning took place through regular engagement that involved a wide variety of educational, cultural, and social exchanges. The exchange focuses on establishing meaningful relationships based on cross-cultural communication. Together, the two schools are building a program that connects both communities to deeper levels of engagement with issues of social justice and equity.
During their visit to Washington, DC, BHS students had host families and participated in activities at Sidwell while also having a chance to visit some of the significant landmarks and cultural centers in the Washington DC area. BHS hopes to host a group of students from Sidwell in the fall of 2017.