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Wow! I can’t believe we’ve already been in Montana for over three months! Once school began, time just flew by. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, which is fast approaching, I’d like to use this blog post to give thanks for the many blessings I’ve experienced out here. I feel like Thanksgiving is particularly relevant to me this year, as I’m a pilgrim in my own little way: an outsider who has been welcomed by the people who live here and who would like to give thanks accordingly.

I’m deeply grateful for my work at the school, particularly all the people there. The children here are amazing. They are sweet, loveable, and so much fun. From the first day of school, I’ve had more laughs and hugs than I can count. On days when I feel miserable, sick, or in pain, it’s the kids that get me through the day. It’s almost as if they have some sort of radar, because on the days I’m struggling the most, they bombard me with affection, making whatever problems I’m facing so much easier to bear. Because of them, I look forward to coming to work each day, and that in itself is something to be grateful for. And if this wasn’t enough to make me love my job, I get to work with some pretty awesome people. The principal, teachers, and other staff are wonderful and ever so patient with me. They have been generous with their wisdom and kindness, even on the days when I barely feel functional. I’m learning so much from them all, both about the Cheyenne and Crow cultures and about teaching, and I feel so inspired by all of them.

Of course, I am incredibly grateful for the whole community here. I don’t know what I’d do without the fantastic people here. From providing a place to just be (or, even better, to bake cookies), to bringing food, to inviting me on hikes or to dinner, they have provided me with the support I’ve needed to continue, especially when I feel most vulnerable. I would be remiss if I didn’t include the Jesuit Volunteers (JVs) in this; they’re a wonderful group of people, and it’s nice to know I can visit them whenever I want a running buddy, someone who is willing to spend a whole day baking and experimenting with the creation of apple cider, or a place where I can simply sit quietly and read a book in the presence of others.

There are so many other blessings I would love to mention, but my list is already quite long, so I will close with a simple but very important factor in my life here: the weather. We have been blessed with incredibly warm weather here in Ashland, and even today, I was able to go for a run and be quite toasty. I got to help the middle school cross country team, and with the exception of one cold and rainy meet, we had mild weather the whole season. Morning recess duty gives me one more reason to appreciate the warm weather; I have yet to break out my winter coat, and that makes me quite happy. Sometimes, it’s good just to be grateful for the little things in life. - Susie


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