Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
February 12, 2000 - Issue 03

Navajo Student had Good Seat for Speech
By Jon Kamman The Arizona Republic

Was with First Lady as Invited Guest
Little did Christina Jones suspect when she was tutoring fourth-graders and improving housing in her Navajo Reservation hometown that she would be hobnobbing with Hillary Rodham Clinton three years later.

But there she was Thursday night, sitting with the first lady and nine other special guests, listening to the president describe the condition of the country to a nationwide television audience.

Afterward, she was to attend a White House reception.

The 23-year-old college student, who tutored as part of the AmeriCorps program in 1997, described herself as "excited and happy" and honored to be picked.

Jones, a Navajo of the Kin Yaa'aanii clan, grew up as one of four children in a family at Round Rock, some 30 miles north of Chinle.

She said her initial interest in becoming a veterinarian soon shifted to teaching after she began tutoring in the local school during 10 months of service with the so-called domestic Peace Corps.

The deciding factor?

"Kids. They talk," Jones said with a laugh.

Both she and her sister, Justina, were AmeriCorps participants, and both are now enrolled in the teacher education program at nearby Dine College. After graduating next year, Jones plans to teach on the reservation, where she not only can help young Navajos succeed in school but also can maintain her native language and culture.

The 10 citizens invited to sit with the first lady were chosen for their public activities that have community impact.

President Clinton is requesting a $73 million funding increase that would expand AmeriCorps by about half, to 62,000 members, next year. Participants help teachers, work in neighborhoods, build or fix homes and provide disaster relief.

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