Second Sunday diary of Montana Economic Empowerment Fellowship Participant

To be punctual is the first thing I learned when I stepped my foot into the US’s Land. The program guide book was given to us when we were welcomed by our project manager Kelsey at the first day and we were informed to be punctual as it was already advised by our embassy staff, Ma Kyi Thar. It is rather difficult for us to be on time for different time schedule (someday 8:40 and the other day 8:15 and so on) for the people who used to be on time for same time schedule in Myanmar.

Today was the last day of South East Asia friends to be together and some of our friends will depart with us for home stay starting from tomorrow and we will be together again on April 30 to spend just five days before we fly to Washington D.C.

Being Sunday, our schedule was not as tight as weekdays and we only had two agenda; one is leadership workshop and another action plan both were discussed by Mr. Otto Koster and one dinner invitation from Home of Shushu and Tuyen Pham.

Exactly on 8:40am, we left from the hotel to the Mansfield Center Conference Room to join the Leadership workshop facilitated by Mr. Otto Koester, specialist in international negotiation and conflict management, who is also associate director of Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.

In his session, Mr. Otto Koester mainly focused on negotiation skill which pervasively becomes popular in executive training and leadership training in USA. Actually, negotiation is important in every one’s life since everybody does in everyday life and in a variety of contexts. We often negotiate when we don’t even realize we are negotiating. After giving some introduction of negotiation, Mr. Otto Koster divided five pairs among us and gave 2US$ bargaining exercise to each pair and discussed for negotiation. Based on the discussion of negotiation, Mr. Otto Koster highlighted the distributive bargain, integrated bargain, tangible part of negotiation and intangible part of negotiation.

After that his focus was shifted to cross cultural negotiation and the seven key elements of negotiation was explained details for each and research finding about how Chinese people see American when they negotiate and how American people see Chinese in vice versa. Most of the participant from South East Asian Nations recalled their past experiences for negotiating in different culture and understood complicated nature of negotiation between different cultures.

After spending two and half hours, Mr. Otto Koster started his next lesson about action plan development and distributed action plan template among us. He emphasized the importance of focus on our action plan to link with the micro grant proposal which will be called in early next year to accomplish in our countries.

Soon after the class was over, we came back to hotel by van. I and Kyawt Kay Khine joined with the Burmese lady who has been studying pharmacy for six year in University of Montana for new year celebration and she hosted us with Myanmar Traditional Ohn Noe Khauk Sew( Noodle with coconut milk curry) and other friends of mine also left for lunch. Burmese girl, whose name is Wai Wai also shared the knowledge of culture and education system of American and tends to understand more about American life.

Our group together met again at Lobby of the hotel exactly at 5 pm and left to the home of Shu Shu and Tuyen Pham, who Immigrated to the US. They are really a nice couple who ever hosted Southeast Asian fellow visited to US. Shu Shu is always welcomed to host with her quality of tasteful foods who visited from Asian Countries. Tuyen Pham explained their adventure to the US and Shu Shu shared her live experience of how economy is important in everyday life. The food I have today is the best I tried in Missoula( that taste is similar to what we used to have in Myanmar). Fortunately, we had the chance to meet with president of the council of Missoula and explained about the tasks they are responsible for and answered all the questions raised by the South East Asian participants. Of course, our program director Deena and project manager Kelsey joined dinner together with great care. We concluded our dinner by singing and dancing traditional songs of Burmese, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It is a really happy day in my life of Missoula.

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