AU student gains new perspective from internship on Indian reservation

Mon, 2010-12-06 08:00 -- univcomm
December 6, 2010

Anderon University junior Daniel Kelsey earned class credit, gained a different perspective on the world, and took important steps toward his future when he left Indiana to complete a summer internship.

dankidonbackKelsey traveled to Allen, S.D., this past summer to intern at Pass Creek Church of God on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The reservation is one of the poorest locations in the U.S. “In the town of Allen, alcohol and drug abuse is the norm,” said Kelsey. “Everyone knew where the drug dealers lived, and taking a drunken guy to the hospital at 4 a.m. wasn’t something out of the ordinary.”

While at the church, Kelsey led work groups from churches and schools across the country that visited the reservation. New groups came to the reservation every two weeks, and Kelsey organized their lesson plans, led vacation Bible school, and helped coordinate evening activities such as kickball or basketball. Kelsey bonded with each new group that came in.

“Kids need someone to watch out and care for them,” said Kelsey. “A lot of those kids are not used to getting any attention and they need someone to love them and teach them about Christ.”

Most of the groups that came through were assigned to different work projects. They would help build or restore buildings on the reservation, and Kelsey was able to teach them certain woodworking skills.

One of the highlights of Kelsey's internship was the Free Christian Music Festival at the end of the summer. He took a group of teenagers to Rapid City and listened to bands such as the Newsboys, Down Here, Barlow Girl, and Thousand Foot Krutch. “Most of these kids have never left the city of Allen before, which has a population of about 400 people,” said Kelsey. “There were more than 50,000 people at the music festival, so you can only imagine how excited those kids were.”

Prior to his internship, Kelsey had visited South Dakota during a two-week mission trip through AU's Tri-S program. Willi Kant, director of international education at AU, encourages the South Dakota trip because it gives students an opportunity to engage with the people in work, worship, and cultural learning.

“There is no better way to learn about Native American history and culture than to spend time with the people,” said Kant. Tri-S has been involved with Native American communities since the late 1960s and also works with communities in Oklahoma and Arizona.

Throughout his internship Kelsey learned more about himself and grasped a more tangible idea of what he wants to do after graduation.

“One skill I developed during my internship was being prepared to have an answer when asked the hard questions,” said Kelsey. “I learned how to genuinely love, comfort, and care for people and meet their needs as best as I can.”

Kelsey will earn a degree in Christian ministries and would like to work for a nonprofit organization or work in a social justice setting.

— Laura Overman is a senior from Peru, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Overman is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.