What Up, Turnip?: Alternative Spring Break 2012
I’ve just returned from an alternative spring break trip to Robeson County, North Carolina, where I spent a week (along with 11 other kids from my school) learning about and working with the Lumbee Indian Tribe, whose home is there. (Thus the sounthern “y’all”)
The trip was absolutely amazing and I learned a LOT during those seven days. Actually meeting with and talking to Native Americans is so different from the way you learn about them in elementary school. It was amazing to learn about the Lumbee’s history and culture. The tribe can count a major outlaw among its members, helped drive the Ku Klux Klan out of that area of North Carolina in the 1950s, and is the ninth largest tribe in the United States. The Lumbee are federally recognized but do not have any of the federal benefits that other Indian tribes get, so they have a lot of very unique concerns about protecting their heritage, especially since the economic situation in rural North Carolina is so bad that a lot of people are leaving the county. We got to take part in a lot of amazing cultural activities, including powwow dancing (thats me the maroon sweatshirt — sorry the picture is kind of blurry) …
Canoeing on the Lumber River…
Visit a farm and pick turnips (Me in my maroon sweatshirt again! The phrase, “What up, turnip?” became a crucial part of my group’s vocabulary after that) …
and visit a man who makes his living doing pottery.
We also spent a lot of time talking about the challenges the Lumbee face — the lack of jobs and educational opportunities, the threats to their environment from manufacturing and farming, the government’s unwillingness grant them full recognition, and a thousand other things. It was disheartening to see the overwhelming poverty that characterized a lot of Robeson County — and not just the Lumbee, but all of its residents — but at the same time the community was extremely strong and resilient. I feel like I still have so much to learn about them.
Anyway, I’m back to school now, so the countdown to race day can begin! I can’t believe that there’s only 5 1/2 days left until I toe the starting line. I’m feeling such a mix of emotions — excitement, nervousness, relief that the marathon is finally almost here — but to be honest, the most overwhelming one is panic. I’m still having some of the knee pain that I’ve complained about over the past couple of weeks. It’s not that bad — I don’t feel it when I’m walking and its really the worst after I’ve been sitting down for a long time — but I’m afraid that it’ll get really bad on race day after I’ve run 23856819740 miles (I mean 26.2, though frankly that distance seems so long it may as well be 23856819740 miles). I just don’t want to be in pain for the ENTIRE marathon. I want to enjoy at least part of it! I’m hoping that a heavy round of icing, aleve, and stretching this week will get the pain under control. And if it crops up during the race, I’ll just have to push through as I’ve done before. I know for sure that whatever happens, I am finishing this marathon. This time on Saturday, I want to have a medal around my neck and a 26.2 sticker for my water bottle. You heard that, Rock N’ Roll USA marathon? Bring it!
QUESTION: Have you ever been on any kind of service trip? How do you handle the last week before a marathon (especially if you’re not feeling in the best shape)?