By Chhair Sokty (Mr.)
Now we are in the third week of the Economic Empowerment Fellowship Program, which our fellows have had real experiences living with American family and working with American officers. I always scroll through Facebook to see postings from our fellow friends and I am pretty sure that my fellow friends really enjoy the fellowship so much.
With my work experiences and interest working with provincial governments in Cambodia, I have been placed in the city hall of Missoula. There I have a lot of exposure to staff and officers of the city and the county of Missoula and the staff of their partner organizations, and legislative members of the state of Montana. The city and the county introduced me about their on-going and planned projects by bringing me to the project sites. I really learnt a lot from these study tours, and I hope it will be an input to my preparation of a master plan for tourism city development and strengthen my professional careers as a development economist.
I have opportunity to be an observer of the city council meetings with lively debate and active participation of its citizen. That is how democracy works in the U.S. I really appreciated it!
I would like to thank all of the staff and officers, Dale and Major John as co-coordinators during my fellowship. My gratitude also goes to Deena and Kelsey who have placed me in the right place.
Dale more often brought me to social gatherings of like-minded people. There I observed the civic engagement of American citizen and how they built professional and individual networks. Very fortunately, I met one Nobel Peace Prize Laurite Steve Running who specialized in Forest Ecology from the University of Montana (UM). We therefore should be proud of our attachments with UM.
I have lived with Dale couple family who have a lovely daughter Luci (4) a lovely son Jashuo (3), and two lovely dogs. Besides working, I also had great time with the family who have taken care of me and spent their busy and valuable time to accompany me to many meetings and introduce to me many things about Montana and America. Last Monday, Dale, his wife Lisa, Luci, Jashua, and me went to National Bison Reserve. I could see deers and bisons at very close distance. It is amazing that there were about 4 million bisons in America during 18th Century.
Last Saturday, Dale and his father brought me to a football game between a team of the student of UM and a team from California with the number of audience of 25,766. Congratulations! UM won the game. We also saw Sokny and her host family, Colin. Colin used to take Sokny and me to brewery a couple of times and we also have dinner together at her house.
On Sunday, the host family celebrated a birthday party for Luci turning 5 year-old. I enjoyed having party together with their family and friends. It was a community life in America.
On Friday evening, Sokny, Colin, and I went to watch a movie which captured the last few days before the fall of Saigon in 1975 “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’ Brien. There we met Kelsay, Deena, and Thao. The moment in the movie was really emotional. I really appreciated how the captain decided to push helicopters to the sea in order to save space to carry more people on board. It interested me a lot and I spent some time during the weekend to follow up the story on internet. This movie reminds me to add one slide on Cambodia’s political history during my presentation at Mansfield Center on Oct 22. Hope you all join if you could come (final invitation).
At the end, I would like to say that I miss all of the fellow friends and hope to see you in the course of days. Have another interesting week in the fellowship!