Until we meet again, Montana! ;)

“Every party must come to an end and when it does, there are kisses and promises and waves goodbye.” – Life Magazine

Hello again everyone! I am Mild from Thailand. And even though I feel sad to say today is our last full day in Montana, it’s my pleasure to record our last but memorable moment together. We start the day with our intense group project presentation. All of us have done a great job preparing them and I’m so excited to see them applied in the field. Our team(Thailand) plans to organize reality shows relating to organic farming and lifestyles. Laos and Myanmar team come up with the idea to educate students about waste management, which is also a big issue in our country. Vietnamese team intends to provide education and support for those affected by big flood. Cambodian team will organize a bike tour during our YSEALI reunion in February 2016 and I’m really looking forward to that!

After the presentation, we had a little ceremony to celebrate our three successful weeks here in Montana. Even three weeks seem to be a short period of time, we feel like here is our second home already. Next, we were cycling together to bike parking spot, where we have to return our bike, the one that took us everywhere, namely NAC, Food zoo, Albertsons, Southgate mall, Book exchange, Best Buy, Downtown, the river, the “M”, the “L”, ANYWHERE!

Thailand team paying respect to Grizzly Bear! xD

Everybody says “YSEALI~~” 😀

After that we have last group photo in UM together. Then, everyone went back to the dorm to prepare their cultural performances and dress. It’s been my first time seeing all of us in national dresses and everyone looks so beautiful! I came down hurriedly to the meeting point to gather up with everyone. Since I couldn’t make my own hair, I always have to ask for Mai to do mine.Thank you Mai for always helping me. I love every of your gorgeous hairstyles! ❤

Moreover, there’s another special occasion today, Vathana’s birthday. Hurray!!! After dinner, all of us gather to celebrate his 21st birthday (with some big change comes with this age, huh?) We are very happy to present him with blueberry cheese cake we made ourselves (though most of the instant ingredients are sold in Albertsons :P) and also special gifts from all of us as seen in the picture below~~

Vathana’s birthday cake and his present (honey Watt) from beloved YSEALI fellows

After a walking tour around the shy bear farm to admire all beautiful handmade sculptures, they taught us how to perform contra dance. It was kind of confusing at first but “That’s why it is fun!” said the teacher. I found the dance was really enjoyable especially when you’ve got a chance to exercise after filling all those delicious meals into your whole stomach.

Then, our YSEALI’s cultural performance tonight proudly begins with the show from Laos team. They were dancing the traditional song very beautifully, representing the refined art of Lao dancing culture. They dressed elegantly in their silk-made traditional dress and in a very colorful kind of texture.

Next is our Thailand show. We perform Muay Thai or Thai boxing, which is the traditional combating sport. Watt and New demonstrated each pose vividly and it looks so real, while I and Ann were a referee and an orator. After amazing performance, we end the show by inviting everyone to dance with us.

The third show belongs to Team Cambodia. My first impression goes to their national costume which is very neat, simply elegant, and I think their costume is alike to certain kind of Thai national dresses, meaning that our cultures are deeply rooted together and given people from our countries are actually sharing common brother and sisterhood. The song is very cheerful and the team allowed us to join the show and that’s pretty fun.

The fourth show respectively belongs to Team Vietnam. Team Vietnam represents top-notch national dress. Men and Women dressed beautifully, showing the uniqueness of its long-lasting history and tradition that imprinted on their gorgeous “Ao Dai” and I personally think that the song they chosen is very beautiful and very melodious.

The last shows was perfectly timed by Team Myanmar. The opening dancing by May was pretty impressive. Her movement was fast, rigorous yet gorgeous. And also I was impressed by the men in national dresses behind who were singing the song in their beautiful mother tongue. However, this show was considered to be the show of all YSEALI fellows since everyone moved themselves on the stage and danced together with Team Myanmar.

YSEALI fellows in national dress with our beloved mentor

Our journey here in Montana has to come to an end. We’re surely going to miss our great moment together in lovely campus of the University of Montana. Later than saying goodbye to our beloved UM, we’d say “UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN!” Time does fly so fast! After spending three whole weeks together, there are only 9 days left for us to talk, laugh, and enjoy the moment with one another. New adventures await us in New Orleans and Washington D.C. Let’s make it the best week ever!

Love you all.

A Dam Tour Day

By: Alex Akkhavong (Laos)

Get to start the day…

It was very cloudy day this morning without the sunshine, which was the great contribution to my tight sleeping. It was 7:00am when I could open my eyes and curiously look at the time on my phone after it had been ringing for alarm clock for almost 15 minutes. As every time to prepare for leaving, at 8:15am we gathered up at the lobby of Pantzer Hall, where we were familiar with the scene of 20 participants and our mentors discussing and getting ready for a tour.

Explore Dam…

We went to Milltown Dam, where we had a big lesson learned about the impacts of Dam in upper of Clark Fork River, and also the nation’s largest superfund project to remove the dam, clean up sediment, re-mediate substances, restore natural river, and develop the environmental after the dam.

Arriving the Dam, Dr. Len gave a brief speech

Everyone was paying attention to the Speaker, pardon,, everyone?!

Removal of Dam (photo from the sign at Milltown Dam)

Nothing, just to post our group photo.. any problem?

Leadership sessions…

After that we had a session with Dr. Len Broberg, our gorgeous mentor to provide us the challenges and techniques to apply in our countries projects.

M&M implementation, the funny part at the Session with Dr. Len this morning.

Project Concerns…

At the afternoon, we had project discussions with our Mentors Dr. Len, Nick, and Khavi for their comments and suggestions to improve and develop our project proposal. After that, all participants worked on their own projects. All the teams also spent the whole evening to edit and complete the projects with the PPT presentation to be ready for tomorrow.

Well, we still have some time to practice our cultural performance for Friday night as well. Cheers!

PS1. Lunch at the Food Zoo today is the best (the best of all anytime since we arriving here because today there is pork grill and BBQ sauce – I mean better than the other days – I liked it though)

PS2. We are running out of time with only 2 days left here. Honestly, I really don’t wanna leave. *Cry real hard*.

If I run into Doraemon, I would ask him for the Time Machine so that I could stop my time here, in MISSOULA! It is doubtless to say that the hardest thing to do at the end of this week is to say Good Bye to this place. T.T

ALEX

Another Amazing Day in Missoula.

Hey! I’m Vathana from Cambodia. I’m back. This is my second time writing blog, telling about what I did on July 22nd 2015.

Today’s weather is so good. It was drizzling since the early morning. Then, it suddenly turned out to be sunny when the first activity started – Garden City Harvest and the PEAS Farm. I felt like even the sky let us clean up the weeds peacefully.

What I found interesting about the farm is that it is a part of Community Support Agriculture (CSA). For instance, at the beginning of the process, the farm receives a certain amount of budget from particular people to grow vegetables and fruits. When those vegetables and fruits are ready to be collected, the people come to get them once a week.

Furthermore, there are students who come from universities and high schools to work there. It was kind of curious for me. So, while I was weeding in the tomato farm, I decided to ask one of those students what the purpose of coming there. She said that she studied Environmental Science and she came here to volunteer. So that, she can have a chance to get know about how to grow organic plants to get good food. I found it really interesting because they chose work on something related to environment during their summer vacation. Anyway, I enjoyed working on that farm so much because specifically I could get to know how the strawberry plants grow and I love strawberries.

In the afternoon, I went to the food bank. I have to admit that I felt like it was odd for me when people here can have free food if they come to the food bank and declare that they don’t earn much in order to provide themselves and their families enough food and nutrition. There is no such thing in Cambodia. By the way, all of the fellows had a really good time working on categorizing the canned food and stuff like that. I believe that the hard working coming from us this afternoon was really meaningful.

When we arrived at The Pantzer Hall, Mel and Sam had been there already. Mel informed us that each of us is allowed to have a package to be sent home because we have obviously accumulated a lot of stuff over these 4 weeks in Montana. Sam was there also. It was so sad that that was the last time that all of us can meet Sam because he had to go to the Glacier National Park with his family by this evening as all of us have to leave Montana on July 25th. We really appreciate his engagement and his help through out the program.

Furthermore, in the evening, we went to see a baseball match of The Brewers Vs Osprey. Although I did not really understand much about how that kind of sport works, I still enjoyed watching it and tried understand it by asking my friend – Luffi who was sitting next to me

Then, I left there earlier and went the Albertsons alone to buy some snack. On the way going there, I saw the sunset, which was really beautiful and pleasant to me. Even at my hometown, I really like spending doing nothing but watching the sunset. That’s why, this evening was one of the perfect moments I have ever had. I love it!

Culture and History, Native games and National Bison Range

By Chansamai Rattanasuvannaphon

“Time and tide can’t wait for no man”

“Amazing university in the bight morning”

Hello everybody, I’m Mai Chansamai RATTANASUVANNAPHON, from Luangprabang, Laos PDR. “Time and tide can’t wait for no man” Oh no! Unbelieve able this is the last week for us to be in Missoula, Montana I gonna leave a charming, beautiful, peace, and friendly place. I wanna stop the time because I’m going to miss you so much. Especially, my friends and all gorgeous mentor. Today is one more day that I’m very happy and enjoy the schedule activities.

First activity for today is to visit Culture and History of the confederated Indian Reservation Salish and Kootenai Tribes (People’s Center Museum). Since I was a child, I just have seen the movie about the people like Native Indian American. I didn’t even know who are they and where do they live. But today I learn about their life and the culture. I was really surprise to see they collect all of the ancient material, Traditional clothes and how they hunt animal as their food. The main language of Native American Indian is Salish. For Kootenai there are very few of people speaks.

“The Grizzly Bear catching the fish Am I scare it or It scare me 😛 ”

Besides that, we move to Salish and Kootenai College Health Department. The Native Games and cultural Preservation. We have a Professor Paul Philips lead us to play games. There three game such as stickball, double ball and running scream. The game separated in to two teams, women and men for the first game was chasing small ball and then shoot to the goal. “While we were playing the game, I chase the ball and everyone try to chase the ball from me, but I gave to Hyuen no one knew so they still ran in to me” 5555 I trick them, they all said I’m a dangerous girl. This game the men won. The second game was double ball. This game has two teams and the man and women are mixed. In the end of the game, I could do it , I shoot the double ball in to the goal….”Yeyyey! I can do it” and last game before lunch was running scream. All the game we did also be part of their culture.

“Playing the stickball and double ball my team is the winner”

For our lunch today was rice soup with carrot, potato, and bison meat. In Laos, I ate buffalo meat quite hard, but baison meat is really soft and nice. Infront of the college there is an eagle statutes making by old car. The people are believe that the spirit has been living in the statutes so everyon must respect The people in the college all welcome YSEALI group. Teachers and students there really friendly they also serve us testy icecream.

Last activity for today, we continued to the National Bison Range. Bison Range is one of oldest wildlife Refuge in the nation and it also be an example of attempts a bridal-federal partnership under the 1994 tribal self- Governance.

“The real Bison”

It was impress me, when I saw the horn of elk. It has a lots, if other countries, it may be the trade for sale, but here they collect everything. Bison and buffalo in my country really different. It’s my first time of life to see the real bison. It was really wonderful day. While we were driving back to Missoula, I could never forget how beautiful the mountain is.

I’m falling in love Missoula, it is my second home. I want to stop the time! Feels like going to miss somethings in life.

“The mission mountain…..I love the nature”

From grassroots to scientists

by Ann Supatchaya Techachoochert (Thailand)

Good Morning Mountain, do you know soonly I have to move out? This is Monday of our last week here in Montana, the city which surrounded by the mountains and hugged by the rivers. I am gonna miss you!

My everyday window view

Even we had to meet 9am today, but I woke up earlier than usual. Every day is very exciting to me. First lecture of the day was starting with organic way and organizing campaign. Bonnie Buckingham focused on how important to keep agriculture land in the community as to decentralize the food production. In order to succeed, they had to increase demand of organic consumption; famer market is the good place to bring local people and farmer together. Nevertheless, local people participation about changing food policy is also important as a quick win of the organization.

After that we were heading to Laura and Henry Garber’s Farm. My first impression about this place was that they have a bit of everything: many vegetable (Dinosaur Kale, funny name which I learn today), chili, tomato, barley, wheat, chicken, goat, goose, and many more that I can’t tell.

Walk in the garden,

Smell flowers,

Catch the chicks,

Play with the dogs,

Tell stories,

Eat organic food,

And live wonderful.

We began our work by picking the red clover flowers which use to make tea. This plant is not only able to make tea but also fixed the nitrogen nutrition into soil. We toured around the farm, greeted to goat and it also greeted me nicely “Arnnnnnn”. J

We had an amazing healthy lunch; vegetable with ginger dressing is incredibly delicious, homemade bread and organic chicken is perfect combination. After a wonderful meal, we had to work a bit more on moving chicks to their new house. This was kind of fun, chicks ran around and people also run around too.

“What do you think about quiet your job and being a farmer instead?” I asked Henry.

He replied me that “We just do what we love to do and just do it.” ❤

Moving to Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) after working under the sun and having a big nice meal, no wonder what gonna happen after we got into the dark lecture room. It was really really sleepy moment but I tried hard to keep myself awake at all time.

RML is a part of NIAID (National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Disease) researching on virus-caused diseases such as ebola, mers, H5N1, etc. We visited the waste system management, a huge incinerator. Most of solid waste will be brought here and burn at extreme temperature, all particle and heavy metal will be removed from exhausted air. These whole systems represented their thoughtful about environment and community. Lastly, we had a chance to try on the laboratory suite of BSL4, like an astronaut.

Feeling like Big Hero fighting with Luffi

Today is Nyan’s Birthday. We celebrated his birthday and played with the cake. Finally, we became an Avartar having blue face. Happy Wonderful Birthday to Nyan!

Time, please stop.

– by Huyen (Vietnam) ♪

Sunday, 19 July, 2015

Finally, we were able to reach the second free day in Missoula! As our schedule is really intense, free days are very precious.

During my three weeks in Montana, I haven’t had any chances to go to the mall, even on the first free day since I had to deal with my thesis then. And as the day we have to say goodbye to Montana is getting closer, I want to make the most out of it. And by “the most out of it”, I mean taking photos and shopping ~♪.

I and my best buddies in YSEALI – Luffi and Vathana decided to meet each other at 7.30 AM in the lobby at Pantzer Hall. It was too early for a free day though, Vathana was be there just in time, and Luffi came 5 minutes late with the most I-need-some-more-sleep face on this earth I’ve ever seen (tee hee). Since we wanted to take photos with the campus while we were still here, we took the bikes and rode to the Grizzly Bear statue. We managed to have a great shot with the old building and the M mountain with a really nice flare from the sun.

Luffi, me and Vathana with the old building and the M mountain! Woohoo~

After that, we came to Downtown Missoula to have breakfast. When we first arrived to Missoula, Nick told us about his favorite breakfast place in Missoula – Catalyst, which he described as “the best place to have breakfast in America”. For that reason, we chose the Catalyst, and Nick was right, this place was superb! It’s located in the main street of Downtown Missoula, and they have tables on the side walk for those who want to sit outside.

The Catalyst

I chose 3 egg omelet, Luffi and Vathana had sandwiches for their breakfast, and we have some coffee as well. The food turned out so tasty and well-seasoning, which we enjoyed to the last bite.

The delicious breakfast we had at the Catalyst

Vathana…

…and Luffi were enjoying their food to the max!

While eating, we were talking about our program, and realized how lucky we were to be here in America. Eating nice food, enjoying the sunshine and chill breeze, looking at the peaceful empty street early in the morning, talking and laughing your best mates… the feeling was undescribable. “Montana, I seriously don’t want to leave” – I thought as looking at my friends teasing each other, whom I have to say goodbye just in a few days more.

As the roads were closed to day, we even sat in the conjunction to take photos, yay!

Right in the conjunction~ Hooray!

Then, we biked all the way to South Gate Mall to do my ultimate mission: shopping! We arrived at South Gate Mall at 10.20 AM, which was too early since the Mall only opened at 11. Luckily, they still let people to go into the mall to wait until all the shops open. We wandered around for a little while, and we found the map of the mall in the front desk. We found a place to sit, and Luffi and Vathana took out the pen to draft out the strategy that we should follow to be able to go to all the places we wanted to shop – what a nice act to prove that we seriously, absolutely, definitely are Academic Fellows :P.

"We need to get to Hollister by 12 to buy the whole store…"

Luffi: "Ok Vathana, after that let’s go to this place to buy Hello Kitty!"

By chance, we were sitting in front of a shop called “Cost Cutters” – a hairstyling shop.

Just in case you want a nice hairstyle that we’ve gotten, here’s the photo for you…

Vathana and I thought it would be so cool to experience a American hairstyling shop and dropped some of our DNA evidences (I mean, hair) in the States, so we both eagerly decided to have our haircut. The thing is, I didn’t need to have a haircut, but I really wanted to do something with my friends together. However, Luffi rejected to have a haircut since he just cut his hair every 2 months (hello moving Amazon forest…).

Luffi’s face when being convinced to have a haircut…

Even so, since I and Vathana were so cutely sending out threaten messages and fists, he had his haircut too! It was really fun to see three of us have new fresh appearances.

Hello Luffi, it’s not gonna hurt you… Keep calm…

After having our haircut, we began to shop! I was overly excited: Hollister, Gap, American Outfitters, JC Penny… Gosh, I could not wait to visit all of them! Luffi and Vathana were really excited at first, they were strolling around the stores with me, and we bought some really nice clothes. American clothes are so great for me – the designs, the colors, the patterns – I love it! I felt really happy and unstoppable (walking and shopping) in the mall, and I felt like I could shop all days long. However, the guys got tired (and threw me some deadly gaze), and since we already had a lot to carry back to the Pantzer Hall, we left the Mall at 4.20 PM.

The bill collection from South Gate Mall, teee heee

Back to the Hall, we had a short break until 5.40 PM to go to Mr. Tuyen and Mrs. Shushu house. Actually, I met Mr. Tuyen a while ago at the party for host parties. He is Vietnamese, he left the country for dozens of years, and he has a great sense of humor. Mr. Tuyen’s house is very nice with a lot of Southeast Asian decorations and cutie stuufs. I felt like I’d traveled back to my country just by going to his house, and I even found a really old book of my favorite Vietnamese poet. I think he did a great job in preserving the traditions of Southeast Asian countries.

Animal music boxes at Mr. Tuyen house

They cooked food for us, and it was a-ma-zing!!! We all were craving for Asian food (sorry Food Zoo), and all the things they made were very authentic and delicious. Thanks the Pham family for your nice treat!

Excited about the food! (Photo credit: Khavi)

Dr. Len, Alex, Luffi, Ann, Vathana and David were having lunch under the tree shade

Then, Mr. Tuyen and Mrs. Shushu talked about their experiences in America, specifically their experiences as refugees and being under prejudice of some people in the States after they immigrated. I have to say Mrs. Shushu is an excellent storyteller, we were all captivated by her stories. I had mixed feelings after hearing the stories: the feeling of admiration for the Pham because they did a great job in a new land, and the feeling of bitterness when I got to knew that discrimination still exists strongly.

Mrs. Shushu and Mr. Tuyen

Oh and I forgot to tell, today, the Watt sensation was going very strong. His intonation when saying “I’m sorry” (it should be written as “I’mmm sooooorry”) went rival, and everyone was using that phrase, even Dr. Len was infected as well… Talking about Watt, after seeing Vathana’s handsome haircut, he kicked Luffi – his (ex)toast to have new Vathana toast…

Oh Vathanaaaa nice new haircut…

After that, we came back to Pantzer Hall. Tonight, my country group had a meeting to work on our project. We also met Cambodian team in the room next to us. We work so hard na! (Dr. Len, please read this…)

Vietnam team was working so hard on our project…

And Cambodia team also! Yay for us~

So, that’s what I did today! Besides anything, the strongest feeling I have today is about our friendship in YSEALI program. While we were riding the bikes back from the Mall and came closer to UM, Vathana said: “Oh, we’re almost home!”. I suddenly realized that Pantzer Hall finally became our home, where we live in the dorm together, wait each other at the elevator everyday, oversleep together, go to the laundry together… this really is a thing to me.

“Have you ever had a dream that made you feel like you’d never want to wake up because that was all you have wanted?” – I think, I’m having it in Montana.

Time, please stop…

Written by Huyen (Vietnam).

Potluck Dinner: Nutrition through Organic Foods

By Salai Thura Zaw, Myanmar (Burma)

18th July 2015

Time passes so quickly. The day we will depart from Missoula becomes closer and closer. Although I have been staying here for a short time, I become accustomed to living in such beautiful land and friendly community. Some people asked, “How do you like Missoula?”. I exactly love Missoula. I love mountains, rivers and the blue sky. I love those friendly people and the way they love the nature.

Today I also had a chance to learn how people in Missoula conserve the nature, and promoting public health through encouraging organic farming and providing healthy foods. We went to Clark Fork Market to buy some necessary ingredients for our potluck dinner. The market is situated in downtown Missoula, under the Higgins Bridge just east of Caras Park and alongside the Clark Fork River. The products available at the market include locally-produced fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, organic dairy products, flowers, baked goods, honey, and other products from local farmers, ranchers and chefs. There are also some counter where breakfast, lunch, hot and cold drinks are available. Live music at the market also makes the customers feel relaxed and enjoy shopping.

We had a chance to meet with market manager, Franco Salazar who discussed the actions taken by the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition and the specific effects that the market has had on area farmers and ranchers. Agriculture such as farms and cattle ranching has been central to Missoula history, and the market is set up to preserve those agricultural lands, to promote sustainable farming systems, and to help people access to nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate food. There are about 110 vendors in the market and the market is open from May to October on every Saturday. The farmers are friendly and they kindly answered the questions from customers and also from us.

Another thing we learned is the “Food Stamp”. It is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food-purchasing assistance for low- and no-income people living in the U.S. It is a federal aid program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Mr. Franco said they accept food stamps in this market and have a program trying to encourage people to buy local organic foods and staffs, by doubling the amount of food stamps, for example, if someone comes in with 20 dollars, then doubled to 40. It reflects the attempt of government and the Coalition to provide healthy foods to the community and to maintain sustainable agriculture.

The market is also a part of Missoula’s charm, and we had a great shopping time through enjoying live music and having teriyaki for our lunch. We had a great chance to enjoy live music by Brian Ernst who is on eco-touring with solar-powered bus and with 20 instruments and a looping pedal.

In the afternoon, we Myanmar team, Cambodia team and Laos team went to Dr. Len’s home to cook for dinner, and Thailand and Vietnamese teams went to Deena’s home to cook. We tried to cook to our best by learning and helping each other. It gave me lessons how to cooperate and work together effectively in a given time and situation within our own group and partnership with others. We Myanmar team cooked Monhingar (Fish soup with rice noodle), Lat-phat-thoke (pickled tea leaves, fried beans and dried shrimp, and hta-min-thoke (rice salad). Cambodia team cooked grilled fish and apple salad, Khmer traditional vegetable soup, and fried vegetable with fish. Laos team cooked Oc Lam Mou (Prok Lao style strew), Cucumber Spicy Salad, Fish Soup in Lao style, and Jeaw Bong and Mekong dried River weed. Thailand team cooked Tom Yum, Larb, and Pab Puk, and Vietnamese team cooked Pork and eggs, Sweet and sour salad, and Spring rolls. After preparing our dinner, we enjoyed such delicious meals at Deena’s house. Everyone loves the food, and the words, “yummy” and “taste really good” were flying in our dining room. In my opinion, the most important and secret element for those delicious meals are not the good ingredients and recipes, but the care and love that we all put into the food while preparing it.

Looking forward to enjoying potluck dinner all together again! 🙂