By: Phonepasith Sotitham (Om)
‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other’. Learning to be a great leadership with YSEALI Professional Fellows Program which organizes by Mansfield Center (University of Montana) is precious experience and unforgettable memory. Since I arrived in Missoula, everything here is new to me and my brain all the time loads up with new information which makes me think. Comparing make me always questioning myself “why”, and then it gives me ton of new innovative ideas that I want to bring back to my home country to do in action and future plan. I spend every my single day here very useful and I know this is great opportunity for me to gain experience and knowledge to develop my CSO professional skills.
Today is only my 10th day spending time in Missoula, but I have learned so many things from the program it changed my perspective of thinking about community development and seeing new opportunities that I have back in Laos.
Today morning, I had very interesting section with Ms. Deena about how to write effective funding proposals which is very important to me as a founder of new organization to help achieving successful funding proposals. I have learned many useful tips from her which helps to develop my writing of funding proposals making them more attractive to funders.
I have great opportunities to learn with Dr. Andrea Vernon what is civic engagement and volunteerism in the U.S., Civic engagement is set of value and actions to achieve the “greater good”, process of working toward a common goal, bringing people together around issues, ideas, problem, and how citizen engagement is critical to the functioning of the U.S. and society, as well as how it benefits communities and individual. I also learned more and share about situation of civic engagement and volunteerism in ASEAN countries that we have the same common issues. In the U.S. has very strong culture of civic engagement and volunteerism and how they bring people to get involved and become volunteerism culture. Two days ago I had a chance to participate a community meeting of Lincoln community I was observed that people in the community care about another people and the future of their community, they work together to protect and develop their own community.
After lunch we walked to Missoula food bank which provides free food to anyone who needs it! It is a non-profit organization that relies on volunteers to carry out its mission is to “lead the movement to the end hunger in the Missoula community through activism, volunteerism, and healthy food for all”. We had great opportunity to learn and volunteering with U.S non-profit organization we help staffs and volunteers there to clean up their store, they do it every Friday because they stop the service on Saturday and Sunday. If people who need food in the shop you just say “I’m hungry” then they will allow you to shop twice per month maximum. Food and produces in the shop are mostly received donations from supermarkets, restaurants and donation from individuals.The spoiled food they will not serve in the shop but they will use to feed animals.
In the evening we went to downtown art walk, it was amazing to see their creative and beautiful masterpiece art work from different artists and experience Missoula downtown and how people live in the U.S.