Readyyy for my first homestay in America!

By: Linh (Vietnam)

July 10th, 2015

Today is our second Friday in Missoula and after 4 sessions in the NAC, we are going to spend one of the most exciting weekend with our host families.

I woke up quite early this morning because I never want to skip any meal at the Food Zoo. I really love the food waste recycling here and hopefully many universities in Vietnam could organize cafeteria recycling programs in the near future so that our food would not be wasted.

The first session today was called “The Role of Media and Public Opinion” by Journalist and adjunct professor Matthew Frank. I was so amazed by his explanation on how democracy is highly interconnected with journalism. I realized how important the media plays in maintaining democracy in the United States of America as well as other places in the world. It was also very interesting to know some revolutionary past events that happened because of the powerful global coverage of media. Most importantly, he showed us some of the ways the media or journalists can raise awareness of important environmental issues especially in Montana such as the Otter Creek Coal Mine, the Tongue River Railroad, drought and The Bakken. What impressed me most in this session is the Q & A part when I listened to our fellows sharing about different cases in Cambodia, Laos and particularly Burma. I sympathized with the fact that every truth has two sides and it’s as well to look at both before we commit ourselves to either.

After that, I was so honored to meet and talk with Former Missoula Mayor and Author of “Community and The Politics of Place”, Mr. Daniel Kemmis. He brought a game to inspire us to think of solutions for environmental issues based on democracy. The game needed the energy of the entire class. He asked us to work in group of three people to find out how to escape from the locked room where oxygen would run out in one hour. Many groups came up with very creative ideas besides making phone calls or breaking the windows. For example, setting fire and waiting for the firemen, taking a selfie to post on facebook calling for help or the most simple solution – unlocking the windows from the inside. The situation became more strained when the whole team had to choose only one remedy in five minutes. It made me understand the great challenges that countries face when sharing some agreements to deal with global issues. Sometimes we need to authorize the most professional group to make decisions and rely on them.

In the afternoon, we had a chance to meet Dr. Steve Running to talk about climate change: Montana in a Global Context. He was very knowledgeable about scientific facts on climate change and we all learned a lot from him. Then, three representatives from Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM) and MontPIRG came to provide us a very informative session on how their volunteer council work. But most importantly, they talked about how to reach out to find volunteers and I think that will be very useful when we recruit volunteers for our country projects.

I want to send a “Big Thank you” to Sreysros for her enthusiasm while taking many lovely photos for my blog. Thank to YSEALI 2015, I have an extremely hilarious, caring and sympathetic Cambodian sister now.

Finally, it’s time to go camping!!! Rachana and Lynn sent me a message on Tuesday saying that they were getting the camper ready for Friday night and we also planned to go kayaking in Sunday morning. Hence, it seemed like a weekend full of newfangled outdoor activities to me and Kanhchany.

Have a nice weekend, guys!!!

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