By: Sokny Kim, EEP Fellow from Cambodia
Montana, name of a state which I had never heard before. Maybe because I was too poor in geography or because in my mind America was about California, New York, Chicago, Texas, Las Vegas where all the fantasies and issues come from!
Montana, a state located in western of the United States with the geographically area three times bigger than my home country – Cambodia and is home of less than 1 million people. Compare to other states, Montana has a slightly slower pace in daily lifestyle, where people work very hard during the day and very committed to their families and friends afterwards. Having a very spacious and gifted landscape, Montanans enjoy various types of outdoor activities and sports such as football, hunting, canoeing, camping, hiking etc., those are something connect people to nature.
I was an organizer myself of the International Studies and Homestay Program back a few years ago, yet it kept me worrying when it came closer to the date moving to my hosts’ places – no matter how much you think you know and understand America and American, the cultural differences always make you feel unease! I come from a developing country where our culture shapes us to be introvertive, thus to become an ambassador of my country among the 208 professional fellows from 48 different countries is both a privilege and fear at first. It was the fear of inferior, the fear of not being behaved good enough to represent the rich culture and values of my nation, the fear of not knowledgeable enough to understand, to express myself in order to bring upward my country pride and reveal to the world, yet I came with strong commitment and confident that I am here not only to learn, but also to be learned!
Montana is state full of love and kindness; people from different social background engage themselves closely to the society through different activities voluntarily and it indirectly taught me that civic engagement contributes tremendously to the community development of all levels. I must say that people are born innocent and pure, it’s just how ourselves perceive things – if we see things positively, the world will be full of love and understanding; if we see things negatively, no matter what you do and where you go everything will be less positive. I was hosted with love and affection. Their warm hospitality made my fears faded away since the first day we met and we are bounded with strong friendship and loves.
I am unable to express enough how blessed I am being in the program, hosted by wonderful people and families and I would like to shout out that "You made me feel like home away from home. I miss you and you will always be in my heart"
With Lots of Loves!