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Reflective Essays

Vol. 14 No. 4

We Shared the Same Chapter: Collaboration, Learning, and Transformation from the 2008 Subsistence, the Environment, and Community Well-Being Native Youth Exchange in Old Harbor, Alaska Project

December 14, 2010


Young people ages 16-20 are often overlooked in academic outreach initiatives because they face difficult issues and can be a challenging group to engage. We describe the 2008 Old Harbor Native Youth Exchange, in which young people from the reservation of Taos Pueblo traveled to the Alaska Native village of Old Harbor for a cultural exchange and 10 days of conversation, work, camping, and experiential learning. We describe the types of collaboration involved in the design and implementation of the program; we analyze program discourse to discuss the kinds of reactions, learning, and reflection that took place; and we examine follow-up conversations to explore long-term impacts and transformations resulting from the program. Finally, we draw from our experience to consider ways that this program can be improved, and we offer suggestions for academics and community organizers interested in meaningful engagement with young adults.