By Brianna Toya
My name is Brianna Toya from the Pueblo of Jemez and I am a member in the Native American Youth Council (NAYE). My experience at the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW) was a very exciting because it was my first time attending the conference.
The first day, they had talked about getting out of your comfort zone and I really was second guessing myself. Immediately, the conference challenged my personal boundaries when they had assigned us rooms. I was very uncomfortable because I had not known my roommate at first, however, as the conference progressed I came out of my shell and we became friends.
The different presenters that came and talked to us were very interesting because I learned a lot about being proud of who we are and to keep teaching our language and culture to the younger ones.
By the middle of the conference we did ice breakers to get us out of our comfort zone and meet other people and I felt more comfortable about being there. We had people come from the Santa Fe Mountain Center that helped out with the ice breakers and later headed up to the center where we did some exciting learning activities. After lunch, we finally got to climb. I was so scared, but really excited. My partner and I volunteered to go first and took the longest to finish the course and we were screaming our heads off. By the end of the training, I learned that by pushing my boundaries, nothing is impossible. That night, our choices were to swim, go watch a movie, or stay in our rooms. It was a very fun night and played games in the pool.
The third day we went to IAIA and split into different groups and saw many different art works. I really liked how they had a room of art from their own staff which was very considerate of them to do. On the last night, we had dinner together and had said our goodbyes. A couple people went up and had said some inspiring words to us, one guy went up and sang us a prayer song before eating.
Overall, this conference taught me a lot and to stand up for myself and others. I really took these experience to heart and mind. Also, in helping my youth group in improving our skills and our communication.