Thursday, December 24, 2009

Volunteer Profile - Rosita van den Burg

by John Aldrich

When considering the dedication and sacrifice that people make to attend the annual rug show there is probably no better inspiration than that of Rosita van den Burg. Rosita, a Dutch woman in her early twenties who had never been on an airplane, traveled from Holland to Park City for the show in 2008, and then returned again in 2009. In addition to volunteering throughout the duration of the show, Rosita, who is an accomplished artist, created a painting for each of the shows which she donated to the fund-raising auction at the events. The paintings were inspired by Native American themes, in particular related to Navajo Elders and the spirit of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program.

Rosita lives near Rotterdam on the coast of Holland. She became interested in the Program through the influence of Jay Tavare, a Hollywood actor with a Native American background. Jay has been attending rug shows for the past four years and promotes ANE through his web site and other activities. Jay put Rosita in touch with Celeste Williams, a local Dinè woman, who helped firm Rosita's resolve to come to the rug show.

Here is Rosita at her first rug show in 2008.

This is the painting Rosita brought to that show. Here she  is explaining the meaning and symbolism in the art. Jay is holding the painting while Linda Myers looks on.

Rosita meets Lena Cowboy at the 2008 show. Part of the mission of every rug show is to introduce people to Navajo culture. Lena and her sister Darlene, in the background, are at their looms demonstrating the art of Navajo weaving. Rosita has already acquired a Navajo outfit with sash belt, skirt, and velveteen blouse. She is holding a yarn bundle which the Program sells at the show for donation to weavers.

Through emails before the first show and in many ways since, Rosita and Celeste Williams have become close friends. Celeste helped Rosita learn about Navajo culture and acquire her Navajo dress.

For her dedication and contributions to the Program, Rosita was presented a small Navajo weaving at the 2009 show.

This is the painting Rosita created for the 2009 show. Jay and Rosita highlight the symbolism of the hands which is a principle feature of the ANE logo. This represents two cultures coming together to improve understanding and heal old wounds.

Rosita's experiences at the two rug shows have only served to strengthen her love and devotion for the Elders. Here she is seen with Grace Smith Yellowhammer, a co-founder of the Program.

This year Rosita allowed more time in her travel plans so that she could visit friends and learn more about the local area. She was able to spend some time volunteering at the ANE warehouse and learn about other aspects of the Program. Masuda Medcalf hosted Rosita for four days after the show and showed her many  highlights of the Salt Lake area.

With Masuda's inspiration Rosita mastered the Zumba and will no doubt introduce this exercise revolution to Rotterdam.

Rosita's trips to Utah and the rug show have been transformative. She observes that the resulting experiences have "changed me into a more confident, stronger, and independent woman".

1 comment:

  1. Great article and pictures about Rosita. Especially like the picture of Rosita and Jay and Rosita and Grace.