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The Cherokee Diversity Trip
Second Wolf Village Trip to Cherokee, North Carolina Combines Learning and Community

The Cherokee Diversity Trip, a collaborative effort between NC State Counseling Education students Sara Vogel and Kelsey Standingdeer, was designed to give students a comprehensive look at Cherokee culture.

Students on Cherokee Trip

The three-day trip began with lunch with the Chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian (EBCI), Michelle Hicks, along with four members of the tribal council. The Chief shared with the students the history of the EBCI, the governance of the tribe, current and future developments of the tribe, and the importance of young, educated people in the tribe. He promoted the Cherokee values of understanding one's culture, pride in one's heritage, and giving back to the community.

The second activity that students participated in was touring the Kituwah Academy Cherokee Immersion School. Through presentations and a tour by school administrators and teachers, students took away the importance of reviving dying languages and how oppressive laws of the past led the Cherokee to lose their language. The students were also able to learn about the Cherokee culture through native Cherokee meals, touring a Cherokee history museum, visiting a reenactment of an 18th century Cherokee village, hiking various trails, and visiting the Kituwah Mound, a sacred site where the Cherokee council used to meet before the Trail of Tears occurred. 

The students synthesized their learning through nightly reflections, which were guided by the team leaders.

The goal of the program was to introduce students to the Cherokee culture while using their story to explore greater issues of cultural diversity, oppression, privilege, pride, and power. Another goal of the program was to build connections and a stronger sense of community in the Wolf Village apartments. This was also a great opportunity for two graduate students to practice advocacy and build their professional counseling and teaching skills. 

This trip was a success in many different ways. The trip has allowed International and transfer students the opportunity to make friends early on in the semester to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. Students have had the ability to synthesize what they are learning in the university and apply it to the real world. They see that although we all come from different backgrounds, majors and specialties, everyone has a role to play in this world, and everyone can make a difference. We all have the opportunity to contribute to our community; whether it is holding a conversation with someone who is different, planning a diversity trip, or opening a language immersion school. The cross cultural exchanges that occur between the international students and the domestic students have encouraged people to participate in larger trips such as Alternative Service Break Trips and study abroad.