One concern I had at the beginning of this pilot was rushing in with too many of my own ideas. After all, one of the counties we’re serving, McKinley County to be exact, is the size of Connecticut. This is just one county, with San Juan County not far behind it in land mass. How can I pretend to understand the landscape and people of rural New Mexico, when I honestly get lost on the way home from grocery shopping. So maybe I’m using a little hyperbole, but you understand the point. Not to mention that culturally I have a different upbringing, which can cause me to lose out on subtleties of language that would help in connecting a family to badly needed resources. Here’s where I can count on the strength of people like Chelsea Chee, Rachel Thomas and Steven Lamb.
As I mentioned in part one we were able to invite Natives in STEM to an outreach in Shiprock where John and Cheston Bailon spoke to an audience of students at Dine’ College (where the library is located). Being connected to a local champion like Chelsea, who was so connected to the land that she was able to tell me about family she had in every city between us and Albuquerque, was invaluable for gaining community trust. To this day I can count on consistent outcomes for outreaches to Shiprock, and have been slowly making more connections with Dine’ College itself simply because we were connected with a well known figure like Chelsea Chee. In this instance our work was amplified, but we’re also experimenting with amplifying the voice of others.
You may remember the two educators with the dream of translating an interactive human body app into the Dine’ Language, we’ll we’ve decided to invite them along with us! Using funding through NDIA and the PAST foundation we’re able to fund their travel and by collaborating with the Explora education staff on their recent grant with the United Way to bring STEM education to the chapter houses we are able to provide them a stage. Being able to model the use of technology to teach biology, anatomy and practice or reinforce Dine’ language skills with families makes me almost giddy!
In my next two part blog series I’d like to look at some case studies in device lending, their similarities, differences, and how we’re using outreach to spread digital literacy, access to the internet, and internet enabled devices.