By USAG Wiesbaden Public Affairs OfficeNovember 26, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany (Nov. 26, 2012) -- Students and administrators got in on the action at the Native American Heritage Month observance at the Wiesbaden Middle School, Nov. 13.
While students were invited to join in in making music with guest speaker and drummer Bill Pagaran, Wiesbaden Middle School Principal Susan Hargis, Ph.D., opened the event by talking about her own Native American heritage thanks to her mother a member of the Choctaw tribe.
Telling the children that, like most Americans, her ancestry includes a mix of cultures and traditions, Hargis said, "We should remember that the Native American cultures were there first."
Pagaran, a Tlingit Indian, director of Carry the Cure Inc. -- a suicide and substance abuse prevention program for the state of Alaska -- and active percussionist with the internationally acclaimed Broken Walls group, introduced the youths to several Native American songs and dances and spoke about the importance of self-worth and staying true to one's self.
"You were born to do something only you can do," said Pagaran, encouraging them to strive to find their own direction in life. "If you've never failed, you've never lived. Life equals risks. The life that's in you is meant to flow out of you -- it's contagious. You were meant to live life with passion."
Describing a childhood that was fraught with physical, mental and substance abuse at the hands of his parents and relatives, Pagaran said finding support in school friends and respected adults helped lead him to continue seeking his way in life. That has included having earned college degrees, becoming a licensed suicide prevention trainer and other professional and personal achievements.
"There is a rhythm to your life -- there's a groove and there are things that can interrupt your life," he said, referring to paths such as substance abuse, neglect and other potential detractors along the way. "But it doesn't matter what has happened to you -- what people have done to you or even you have done to yourself -- you are of great value and of great worth."
Urging his listeners to keep striving to find that which fills their life with meaning and passion, Pagaran said it's also important to continue reaching out to others. "We really need each other to lift each other up.
"Some people measure their lives in the number of breaths they take," he said, while others "measure their lives by the moments life takes their breath away."
The event, hosted by community Equal Opportunity advisers, and sponsored by Andrews Federal Credit Union, the Native American Association of Germany e.V., Rhein Main Area USO and Army and Air Force Exchange Service, also featured a display of Native American crafts and tools.