While most students stayed home to do homework or travelled
for Spring Break, Matt Almanza (Sociology and Pre-Med, 2014) chose to
participate in a volunteer trip to the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in
Ignacio, Colorado. Rick and Phyllis Chaney coordinated the trip and took Matt
with them, along with five International College of Beijing students.
They volunteered at the local schools as well as at the
senior center. Matt helped clean out a closet, a cluttered garage, and cleared
out an old garden. “I like getting dirty,” Matt said. “So I like that kind of
Part of the trip was learning about the Southern Ute Tribe,
their government, and how they
run their casino. Matt received a tour of the
casino, getting to see the kitchen and pathways that he didn’t even know
existed. “It would have been cool if I was a business major,” Matt said,
referring to the knowledge he gained about how the casino operated.
Matt went on the trip because he felt like he needed
something different and wanted to get away from his books. Since moving to
Denver freshman year, he’s only left the city twice. “I had such a good time
and learned to never be afraid to try something new or go outside my comfort
After all the volunteering and learning about the Southern
Ute Tribe, he got a chance to visit other parts of Colorado including Durango,
Silverton, and the Four Corners. However, getting to visit Glenwood Springs was
one of the best parts of the trip. “I’d never been to the hot springs before so
it was the cherry on top,” he said.