By: Mey Phalla, Cambodia
YSEALI is a great grogram that provide a great opportunity to Young Southeast Asia participants from Burma/ Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao, Thailand, and Vietnam to develop their professional skills such as leadership skills, management skills, fundraising skills, advocacy strategic, and learn about the way of non-profit in Montana they work and the way that they collaborate with their government, we have exchange our work in our own countries, we also exchange the culture, way of life, politic, and the society from one another, and finally we have established a global network between the Asean and the United State of America. I would say that “YSEALI is Pretty Awesome” (it is a new word that I have learnt from here) as it gave me a chance to learnt more than what I expected.
The first day that I arrived in Missoula on 28th of April, the weather and food are totally difference from my own country, it made me more stress and I don’t want to do anything on that time, but luckily we have an excellent host program Ms. Kelsey Stamm and Ms. Deena Mansour who very well organized on everything, this make me feel comfortable. And what that I unforgettable is a warmest welcome party at Deena’s house on 29th of April, it is the welcome and orientation for the participants and it also the first day that all participants have met with their fellow coordinators and host families. I have learnt from this program how to host the other, and it is a great thing that I have learnt without expectation. I would like to grateful to Ms.Kelsey and Ms. Deena for your support.
The program has provide a lot of relevant workshops on to our participants to get more understand about the American culture, U.S Economy, U.S Politic and Structure, Cross-culture, the foundation of non-profit organization in Montana, leadership and strategic plan workshop, furthermore, they bring the participants to visit most of the important place of the Montana State such as Glacier National Park and Yellow Stone National park to see the beautiful view of the park and learn more about the park management, especially about the collaboration among the non-profit organization and government, which is very interested for me to learn how they can manage the park as in my own country we have many problems on park management as a lot of luxury tree have been destroyed more and more by the powerful/ rice people. Additionally, the program also bring us to meet with some important persons to learn more about the way of non-profit organization, non-profit association work together to make the government more accountable to what they promised as it is the legacy of NGOs here; in addition, we also have a good opportunity to learn a lot about the fundraising and management skills during the processes as well, finally we have a great time to meet with Lieutenant of Montana Governor Angela Mclean to discussed about the collaboration with the non-profit here and her perspective on non-profit organization in Montana.
Host family is the wonderful time for me to learn and share with my beloved American host family. I am the one who has 3 host families, at the first time I am quite not happy with this, and I think what happen to me, why I have a lot of host family, but when I start to live with them I found that I am the one who lucky more than the other as I have a good opportunity to share of my history, culture, and my experiences more than the other, and at the same time I can learn more on how to live with the other that we haven’t know before, furthermore, I can learn about the American society more than my friends. My first host family is Mr. Stue, who working with Tribal of Council and he is quite busy and travel outside Missoula frequently “make yourself at home” is the word the Stue talk to me all the time that he meet me. Ms. Amy Carter and Mr. Huw is my second host family, I have learnt that Huw he don’t like to be with many people in the party, but I am very surprise that on the first day he came to pick me up with his wife at the reception event. Amy talk to me that it is the first time for her to host the other “I learn to live and host the other that I never know before” she said, but unbelievable to me as she done a very good job I don’t know how to say, but the way she did is make me very comfortable to be lived in her house. My third host family is Mr. Will, he work with Clark Fork Coalition, I have a very short time to be with his family and he is very kind he like cooking and he always cook for me, and he like to talk a lot about what I am doing in my home country and at the same time he also share of his experiences that he has work with non-profit organization for long. I would like to give my big thanks to all of them for their kind support.
Ms. Barbara is my fellow coordinator that I need to talk about, she is working with the Clark Fork Coalition (CFC), the organization that I and Ms. Chintanaphone (Noy) from Lao is my buddy. “We are really lucky to be place with CFC and have Barbara as our coordinator” it is the word that Noy and I always talk with each other. They are so kind with us they prepared the comfortable office for both of us to work, and all people are friendly. Barbary tried to figure out the wonderful schedule for both of us and she tried to bring us to see the project that CFC have been implementing at the field to make use more understand the nature of the project and the strategy that they use. We have visited the Bitterroot project, Milton removed dame project, the mining project at Butte, and volunteer project that have been implements by CFC. At the meantime, Barbara she has arranged a schedule for Noy and I to meet with her Executive Director, Fund Raiser, and Marketing Coordinator to share with us of their work experiences that very useful for us and at the same time we also have a good opportunity to present of what we are doing in our own countries to the CFC staffs. We have learn a lot about the advocacy strategy that they use to advocate to the government and company, the fund raising technique, and the marketing for non-profit organization that those things very important for me and I will bring it with me back to my own country. In addition, she also made a lot of appointment for us to meet with non-profit organization working in Missoula and the government agencies that make us more precise about the way of they are working together.
The global network, specifically among ASEAN and the U.S countries is one of my expectation to get from this program as we can share of what we are doing, the best practice has been done in other countries and the challenges face by our work, particularly the way that we can work together to have something change in our country. I have learnt that all the participants they have differences expertise and we have quite similar difficulties face by our work in our own countries, and we knew that the way that we work is not effectively, so we have to look at the existing ASEAN mechanism and how can we link it with U.S government. I have strong confident with U.S government in supporting us to have something change in our society as I have watched video the speech of President Barack Obama at Yangon, he said that we have the US Embassy and USAID to support you to achieve your own goal this word give me a hope of possibilities of working together with other countries.
The last but not least, I would put my word that, now we are friends, then we will work together, we will became a leader, and we will work together to have a better changes in our societies.