A group of 10 Canisius High School students and three teachers spent a week this summer at the Navajo Nation in Arizona on a service immersion trip. The Navajo Nation consists of around 330,000 people. Most live without running water or electricity, and rely on the land for their income. The trip immersed students within the Navajo communities, to serve the people, talk with them and learn more about their lives.
During their immersion week, the students cleaned up a sheep corral, fixed the corral's fence, and dehorned goats. These jobs allowed the students to see the culture of the Navajo people first hand. They learned one of the daily struggles is not having running water. Obtaining water for drinking, bathing, cooking, taking care of animals, or other necessities involves driving to a well and filling up a 250-gallon container. The students also repaired homes during the week. They painted houses, built porches, and installed windows.
There was time for a little sightseeing too. The Canisius group visited several landmarks including the Grand Canyon, took part in a sweat lodge experience, and watched authentic dance and musical performances. The students say the trip changed their perspectives on their own lives, as well as their perspectives on the lives of the Navajo people.
A Canisius High School education allows students to learn the importance of using their God-given talents to serve those most in need. A central principle, known in Jesuit schools as the "MAGIS" - the MORE - asks students to consider a simple but profound question: "What more can I do to help those in need?" The Canisius campus ministry department helps students discover the answer by facilitating service projects around Buffalo and around the world. Canisius students lead service work in a wide variety of settings, from homeless shelters and food banks to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and day care centers.
Students who are interested in a more intensive service experience are encouraged to participate in the Companions/Compañeros program, where groups of students and faculty spend days living and working with the underserved. This year's Navajo Nation trip was part of the Companions/Compañeros program. Partnering with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Institute for Latin American Concern, and the Crossroads Foundation, these programs engage participants in a period of work, prayer, and reflection ranging from one week to one month. In addition to the Navajo Nation trip, other recent immersion trips have taken Canisius students to Newburgh, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Taos, N.M., Wheeling, W.V., Nicaragua and Dominican Republic.
At Canisius High School, students of all faiths are welcomed into the school community and campus ministry programs. These programs are designed to foster and promote a young man's spiritual formation and enhance the religious development of the entire Canisius community.