Profile: Lorna Babby (Oglala Sioux Tribe)
I am a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and became a Peace Corps Volunteer after practicing Indian law for 10 years. I needed a break—an opportunity to put things in my life into perspective. I am now working for a National Park in Romania and living in a remote community that is looking to ecotourism as a way out of its economic depression.
There are many wonderful things here that remind me of my community back home: a connection to the land that many non-Indian Americans have lost; a healthy pride in cultural traditions; closeness to family and a deep appreciation for the eldest members of the community; and a view of spirituality as an integral part of life.
The problems that plague Indian communities are present here as well, including a lack of economic development and social problems arising out of poverty. As a result of these similarities, I can relate to Romanians on a level that many non-minority Volunteers cannot. And this is always the first step toward affecting a change.
Be prepared for people back home to ask you why you are volunteering overseas when so much work remains to be done on reservations. The answer, at least for me, is that the experience, knowledge, confidence, and perspective I am gaining as a Peace Corps Volunteer will make me a stronger Indian advocate when I return home. Take advantage of the Peace Corps opportunity.
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