Missoula, Montana memory

By: Chintanaphone Keovichith (Noy), Laos.

May 25th , is a national holiday, Memorial Day. Memorial Day is to remember the people who died while serving in the United States’ armed forces. Today is also the holiday for me too, because The Clark Fork Coalition office also closes today. But the big mission for me and other fellows too that we have to submit our action plan to Project Manager. Therefore nobody go out from their room, no one care to have breakfast or lunch everybody work hard to finish their creative action plan and send by deadline at 5 pm.

Today is the Memorial Day for American people. So I also have many memories in here, Missoula too. Sometime is good and sometime is bad, but because of I have a very good friend and I feel that I am very lucky to be a part of this program and especially in this cohort. everyone in our group are very friendly, even we come from different country and different culture but I can touch that every day I am very happy to be with you all.

To my dear friends, my dear brothers, my dear sisters. Since today we still have time to stay and get to know each other only two more weeks, but I am sure that when we back home we will miss each other and keep in touch with everyone. We are one community, we will tight our relationship among five countries and finally we will be one community when we are go to ASEAN Economic Community.

This is my last blog so I would like to share some of my memory in Missoula as:

The first impressive for me is the first step that we arrived Missoula, there are 2 ladies, Deena Mansour and Kelsey Stamm came to pick us up at the airport even nearly midnight, it was a warm welcome for us. Thank you so much for your kind support and pay attention with our group.

The Second thing that I heard Montana is the big sky state; I just understand and agree on that when I have a chance to travel to Yellow stone, Glacier and Flathead Indian Reservation, Helena, Butte, Bitterroot, Helene. I can see the big sky and no the end point, it is so nice and the weather here is so nice 12-20 degree Celsius. It is not cold any more for us in here. And I can’t imagine that when we back to our country in next two week how can we stay in the weather about 40 degree Celsius.

The Third that I am very exciting is we have a good time to join the first Friday, we walked around downtown, and we stopped by many galleries. And I also have some conversation with my sister Tok from Laos as we can see that Missoula is the city of the artist. And we see many kinds of fund raising activities and we also think about if we have some connection with gallery here we want to send our handicraft stuff to share our culture to Missoula people too. When you come here you can see art in everywhere, even in the restroom.

The fourth is University of Montana, and Mansfield center. Thank you so much for your very good organize this program and invite so many professors, Dr, Government official, high ranking people to share their lesson and experience to us. We can see that we have to take class until 18.45 since the second day that we arrive in Missoula and I am apologize that we have sleepy sometime because some of us can’t adjust to the time in Missoula. But finally, we are so lucky that we will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama, everyone are very exciting, it is like a dream and it will come true soon in June 1st in Washington, D.C.

The fifth, host organization and host family are very important role to help us more understand on American culture. I would like to thank you to Christ and Steeve, my nice host family to take care of me when I stay with them for two weeks. It is very wonderful time that they bring me to do many activities that I have never done before such as: Hiking to mountain to see many kinds of flowers, chit chat when we have dinner, come to the book club to share on the women talk it is very good thing to maintain the relationship in the community to keep close relationship to each other.

My host organization in Missoula is Clark Fork Coalition; they are very professional organization and have long history to work on protecting river, land and water resource. They have many successful on advocacy work as remove dam, clean up river project… Barbara and every staffs their try to arrange a wonderful activity for me and my brother Phalla to learn from them. I am appreciated on that. And when we go back we will try our best to apply the lesson to improve our work in our country.

If I write down all my memory here, it may take more than 10 days. Finally, I want to highlight my memory in Missoula since April 28 to May 25, even we have met and known each other only four weeks but it seems like we know each other for ten year ago. Thank you so much to you all friends, all program organizers, Mansfield center and the U.S, Department of state and YSEALI program. I feel I get more than more goal to be here that I didn’t get only the knowledge back home but I have more than that as i get more sisters, brothers, friends from five countries and American friends and partners, good relationship, friendship with me.

You are all in my heart and my memory forever!!!

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