Just the diary of a new comer to Missoula,
written by Le Quoc Viet, Director of Santa Co. Ltd, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Oct. 4th, 2014, after a long wait, today we landed in America.
At the Seattle airport, while being asked for transfer flight to Missoula, an old lady at information desk directed and said to us enthusiastically:
– – There is very good university in Missoula.
Oh, University of Montana must be very well-known. I felt proud even believed that she could not think that I am going to be “student” of that university.
Sitting on the air-plane, I was eager to find out how Montana is. And the first impression came at sight, it is a valley surrounded by mountains and the pine forest. The valley was sparkling lighten under the shade of coming dark.
Missoula Airport was impressive with unique architecture. It is made of massive wood columns, decorated with a bear, reindeer …
Here, Mrs. Deena, director of the program welcomed us so warmly and taken us to the hotel. Thank Deena for the tasty dinner, what she went out to bough for us. It made us warm after almost two days ate on air-crafts and at the airports.
Tired, we fell asleep early.
Oct. 5th, Sunday.
Dawn woke us up by the autumn sunshine, looked out the window, which is brighten mountains with letters L and M on it. Today is first day in the program.
9 am, Deena and Kelsey met us at the conference room of the Holiday Inn, the orientation started. The program is very detailed, useful with instructions throughout the days in both Montana and DC. This was my first lesson of the way American working and planning.
After the meeting, we went to Mrs. Deena’s house. Our fellowship partners, fellow hosts for our home stay… are waiting for us. In the lovely autumn garden, we have wonderful welcome and lunch. Here we have chance shared, introduced ourselves to each other. I found that the Montanans are very opened and friendly. We eager to join them on the daily living by pickup mushrooms in the forest or take care of their sheeps…. My host family is in Helena, a few hours drive away, he could not come to the reception, but Mrs. Jeff Vicky had sent an email, asking what I want to eat, what I dislike… Thank you all for your well care of us.
In the afternoon, I and Laos friend, Mr. Somsack, walking around the downtown of Missoula, enjoying the sunset. Streets so clean, peaceful and fill out with flowers and the colorful trees lines.
At the evening, 14 members of our participants have a “Mekong Region Summit” in Su Su’s room. We are all like close friends. We have dinner together, sharing views, opinion, experience, gifts… There is no border, no difference between us.
On the Oct. 6th, we have visited at Montana University. The University was big and beautiful. We really impressed with the library of Manfiled center, it is quiet, spacious and well organized.
At the meeting room of the Mansfield center, we talked over the phone with Mr. Adam Meier, Program officer of the State Department from Washington, then shared about the culture, particularly race and religious issues of the America by history professor Tobin Shearer. Surprisingly, more Americans believe in a certain religion and the percentage of the Protestant has increased dramatically from 25.5% to 51.3% after 100 years. The cause of this issue, sure that I’ll ask Professor Tobin if having chance.
After a that, we were taken to visit the campus of the University of Montana: shop, book store, post office, canteen … I wish I would younger to be here for long-term study.
At noon, Kelsey took us to Vietnamese restaurant. The Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia friends might heard about Vietnam’s “Pho” or event many of you may already tried it in Hanoi or elsewhere in Vietnam, but this is “Pho” in America. To me, it was not like what I have been eating every day at home, but anyway, this is most special Pho I’ve try in my life.
Another surprise is that in the city tour, on Missoula’s street, I saw the billboard advertise for Vietnam tourism. As a guy working in this industry, I expect to welcome more American tourists to my homeland. My task in this program with the supports of my fellowship, Mr. Jeff Tiberi is studying how American doing tourism as well as conservation of natural and cultural resources. The other hand is to learn and study the interest and expectation of American in particular and the Western tourists in general when traveling to Vietnam. I hope I can contribute something to my community and for the sustainable development of Vietnam tourism.
The program is just starting, there are many other interesting things await us in Montana.
Thanks to state department of USA and Manfield center of the Montana University and fellowship partners and warm hospitality of Montanans.
Best wishes to participants from Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, hope you have fruitful study in Montana.
Le Quoc Viet
Director of Santa Co. Ltd, Hanoi, Vietnam.