Arusa Panyakotkaew, Professional Fellow in Civic Engagement Exchange Program
This blog post is going to be a little bit of everything because my day has been filled with a lot of activities and meeting with a lot of people. I have been productive, both professionally and leisurely!
It might sound too late, but until now, I am not ready to say goodbye to the Clarks, my beloved host family yet. Yes, we all have had to leave our host family today. I am sure that all the fellows are as sad as I am. However, the fact that today is also the election day has helped to shift our focus to the election instead of missing our host families badly.
This morning, apart from having a fruitful meeting with Meridith, an Executive Director at Missoula Community Foundation, I had a chance to observe local election in action at Missoula Senior Center with other three fellows including Amm, Candy, Kingkeo together with Cindy and her friend and Jacob. All of us were welcomed by the manager of this polling place who demonstrated to us step-by-step in voting. We were very impressed by his hospitality, as well as the team’s efforts to get as many people in the zone to vote as possible. Each of us even received "I Voted" sticker! Thanks to him. I think I deserve some recognition as a person who exercise their rights through voting: I did vote in my country almost three years ago, but it was not counted due to political chaos at the time which has led Thailand’s political regime to where it is at the moment. 😦 Nonetheless, I very much appreciate the fact that the idea of exercising the rights is promoted in almost every inch in America.
I also got to observe activities and services at Missoula Senior Center. Like other nonprofit organization which I have visited or learned about, they have financial challenges. However, one thing that I have noticed is that the local nonprofit organization in the city (or in this country) have been able to successfully diversify their source of income. This practice is accepted and seems to work well here whereas this is very new in my country.
After that, we had joyful time as Andrea Vernon took us to Rockin’ Rudy’s for shopping. They have EVERYTHING! I got gifts for my family back home and got to see a lot of hilarious stuffs. More joys came when Amm and I were out for dinner downtown, and a drink after that. We went into Flathead Lake Brewing for local beer and to watch news on the election. We were both surprised by how the poll was turning out and were hoping for the best for the country…
I could have called it a day, but I am now watching the news of the election. The result so far has revealed the projected new president of the USA. I know that a lot of people I know (Americans and non-Americans) may not be very happy with the result. However, I believe that the unique political system of the country allows negotiations, checks and balance to happen under fair democratic regime. I view this transition as a process of learning for the country (which I believe each country has its own lessons to learn from) on this tough road called democracy.