The EconomicEmpowerment Fellowship Program gives me more chance to learn than I expected.

By: Mai; Umaporn Muneenam, The participant of an Economic Empowerment Fellowship Program from Thailand

Today is a week that I stay in Missoula, Montana in the program of an Economic Empowerment Fellowship with USA. The program today is ‘market day’ in the morning, and appointment with Tusick’s family in Ronan, MT in the afternoon.

In the morning session, I visited three types of the market. First is a ‘garage sales’. Susi, Christ, and Mercedes (coordinators from Maureen and Mike and Mansfield Center) took me and other participants to visit the garage sales in the indoor parking place University of Montana. There were varieties of the many owners and sales from small to huge things; like cloths, shoes, camping stuffs, home furniture, horse ridding tools, and boat!!! The second garage sales were in personal garage sales which are really placed in the ‘garage’; however, there are less varieties than the one in the pool place. I saw that the participants from many countries were very enjoy to shop and bargain the price. Some of stuffs brought back the memory when they were young, others may think about the important of personal use and friends.

Well, we continued to shop at the second place which was at the second-hand store. Felt like time passed very quickly, we had not finished shopping yet. Some of our friends still enjoy shopping here to friends, family, and the love ones. This was also remind me about this could be the good way for ‘environmental management’ for unused stuff can be able to reuse for the one who wants it. On the other side, I was also thinking about whether it would be better if we reject and reduce the things that we want and need, so that there will be less things remain as an unuseful stuffs or trash if I can say.

Last market was an outdoor market selling things from farmers. It is very near to the Clark Fork river and the hotel that I am staying. I walked only a few minutes, and it was nearly to be closed since it was nearly 1 pm. which the market is usually closed at that time. I found many interesting stuffs like dried opium flowers (but here they call ‘poppy flower’), dried mixed chunks for home decoration, fresh fruits and vegetables, and handmade soaps and candles, as well as food. At this place I can say I have learnt a lot. I met the farmers that they said they are ‘Mhong’ people immigrated from Laos which is very close to my country, Thailand. Reminded me to the talk with Jomay (Lisu), Thai participant from hill tribe in the Northern part of Thailand, as well as the talk with Laos participants. They told me about the history of Mhong from Laos immigrated to US many years ago. Wowwwww, this is long history I can discussed with my Thai friend and Laos friends for a day. Anyway, I felt like this is new for me, I have less knowledge on Laos history compare to what Laos people know a lot more about Thailand. That is about influence of media from Thailand to Laos, Somsak and Noi (Laos participants) said.

In the afternoon session, I felt more warmth and interesting welcome from the host in Ronan, MT. We visited Tusick’s family farm, and they were very welcome to explain what they are doing, they are also very proud of how they are very environmentalists farmers like composting in their farm, grow an organic of mixed farm, having a little glasshouse for herbs, rejecting to the GMO grown products, preserving their own food for winter or hard time, as well as saving the food bank underground their house. I and Jomay, as well as other participants were not reluctantly entering to their kitchen and helped them to cook Thai and Lisu sauces, that what we wanted them, their neighbours, and other participants to try the Thai and Lisu food, this seem like our instinct!!!

Well, we received a warmth welcome from Tusick’s family and their neighbours, they prepared some food and dessert for us, and of course they were going well with our sauces. We had a good chat, and enjoyed food. This what I can say the Economic Empowerment Fellowship Program gives me more chance to learn than I expected!!!

Good night and sweet dream… : )
End of writing at 2.25 am.

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