I arrived in Montana on June 28th with a nasty stomach illness that all started with finally drinking tap water again. I had just spent five weeks in Ghana, trying to complete some research on the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus, and was ready to jump into my next program with SPAW here in Montana. What a shift! And also, what a busy summer!
After five days on the recovery bus, I got the chance to meet with Libby, my mentor here, and learned just how this research on snails would pan out. Since our discussion, our methods and goals have bounced all around, and I can say that the end of last week was the first time I started seeing the light on our research begin to grow a little stronger. Kirwin, another mentor, has been great help to us, providing rigid protocols and a real enthusiasm for parasitism.
My personal journey here has been far beyond what I would expect. Though some may consider me a minority because my mother is Puerto-Rican, I have grown up in a white world where I have been treated as such. I have never before lived on a reservation, and listening to people’s stories here has been shockingly powerful. I have seen some difficult situations, and heard about even worse, since I have been working on the reservation. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to listen and open my eyes to my surroundings.
That being said, I have also seen two pow-wows since I have arrived in Montana, and the bright, vivid spirit that lives in such gatherings is amazing. I have seen some amazing dancers, eaten some delicious food, and soaked in this world that I was so unfamiliar with before arriving. I would like to sign off with a photo of the Standing Arrow Pow Wow grande entry.
This is what I appreciate about Montana. More musings to come soon…