Missoula… What we will bring home

May 22, 2015. By Ngan Dang from Vietnam

This has been the third week of YSEALI, and we are going to leave for Washington DC next Friday, then heading home one week later. Some of us are a bit homesick, some are not. On the one hand, I look forward to the day coming home and sharing the great experience here about US and American people. On the other hand, I know for sure that I will miss this picturesque city and nice people a lot.

Among thousands of sweet memories to remember, there are eight small lovely things below that would stay in my mind for ages.

1. “We are glad to have you here”. This is the warmest sentence that I have ever heard. Taking the longest flight ever in my life over half of the globe – on my own, I had the feelings of excitement, of course, but at the same time was overwhelmed by nervousness. However, all the anxiety was immediately blown away by the welcoming smiles of Deena and Kelsey at the airport. “We are glad to have you here”, isn’t it beautiful?

2. Flowers are everywhere. We are lucky to be here in spring when they blossom. To our surprise, tulips in many colors could be found either in the gardens or every corner of streets.

3. People keep greeting by saying: “Hi” when seeing each other and “How are you doing” is the most common question to be asked. In our first lecture about American Cultural Values, Dr. Tobin Shearer also shared his own story of adaptation while moving from an urban city to Missoula years ago. It was all about the hospital and caring tradition of Missoulians that surprised him a lot, then now it is our turn.

4. The weather is quite typical and different. By this I mean, it is not only that temperature is ten times lower than our countries (4 degree versus 40 degree Celcius), nearly freezing, but that the length of day (in comparison with night) is much higher. At 8PM, there are still have sunshine and many activities.

5. The secret of Fundraising activity is that if you seek for money, people will give you advice but if you seek for advice, then people will give you money. Many thanks for Cindy Weese – Executive Director of YWCA for your sharing this interesting point.

6. Missoulians are very responsible, open and enthusiastic. Especially, this is one of the most engaging communities that I ever known. Everyone donates or is volunteer for at least one non-profit organization. Besides, they are willing to join, give comments and vote for big issues that may impact to the whole city. There are a lot of things to be done in our countries till the day that volunteerism and charity become a part of mindset and lifestyle.

7. I love the spectacular scenery here in Montana. Thanks to many trips to Glacier National Park, Yellowstones, and Helena, we got the opportunity to see the greatness of the state with ranges of mountains, rivers and lakes, fields and farms, nature and sky. It is indeed Big sky county, as people said.

8. Hospitality is expressed by action. Like many other states, people here hug each other as a way to express their caring. I still remember the first time to be approached by Sam – a American Corps volunteer at YWCA – to say hello. I was stunned for a moment and did not know what to do. In US, welcoming or seeing-off someone without a hug could not be accomplished. We learnt to be familiar with this, too.

Time always goes by like a wink. Che Lan Vien – a famous Vietnamese poet wrote:

Khi ta ở, chỉ là nơi đất ở,

Khi ta đi, đất đã hoá tâm hồn.

A simple translation of this could be:

When we stay, it is just the place,

When we leave, land became soul.

Leaving here, we bring home not only knowledge, skill but also friendship, warmth and love from all the people we met and also among fourteen of us from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. To the best of our memory, it is six weeks of youth that we have spent together in this beautiful US.

Thank you for everything, YSEALI and soulmate friends Profellows!

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