This is my 4th week in the Missoula and we had some snow this morning. Woo Hoo!!
I and another 3 fellows are placed with a Montana Innocence Project and with Professor Eduardo Capulong at the the University of Montana. Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson, an Executive Director of the Innocent Project, and Professor Eduardo arranged us to meet with many people who are of our interests. For example, we went to the 911 call center, to the crime lab, to the courts, we also had chances to talk to judges, immigration lawyer, police, an ex-con, a man who has been wrongfully convicted, ACLU, etc. The program is carefully prepared for us and I think it would be something we hardly experience without the support from the program.
Talking about visiting places, yesterday we went to the Missoula Detention and, again, it was very interesting place to visit. This reminds me about how important the freedom is. Someone once said ‘the worst thing anybody can do to you is take away your freedom’ and I totally agree with it. One thing I’ve learned is that some crimes may be committed by people who are traumatised and those who had bad experience in the past that they themselves may even not realize that it was there. Moral support and understanding are crucial things. Among many speakers whom we have met, there were 2 people who were sentenced to prison and their families were with them when they were released. One of them has a father who believes in an innocence of his son and tried to prove for the innocence. The innocence was eventually proven and the son is now released.
One of many things I like about YSEALI program is that we stay with host families for about 2 weeks. It is a good opportunity for us to have a cultural exchange that we can learn American culture and at the same time to share our own culture to our American host families. It sounds like there is nothing much, just to stay in someone’s house and talk to them about their culture and our culture. But trust me, there are A LOT of things I can’t explain how much I enjoy spending time with my host family. It really widen my world!
My house family is very nice and kind. It is a family of 4 and everyone is close to one another. The house is not far from the University of Montana which I am doing my fellowship. To me, family plays a big role in our life and is supposed to be there to support us when we fall. Many people did wrong things because they don’t have anybody to guide them what to or not to do. They don’t know how to deal with their problems and don’t know how to take care of their mental health. There are many things I’ve learned from my host family and I have to say that it sometimes make me think about families back in Thailand where parents are struggling to afford their living and have to leave their children with grandparents. We can see many children in Thailand growing up without enough warmth from their own parents and they easily somehow lose a connection from their family which often leads to something unpleasant.
Spending time with a family where everyone shares their days to other family members, I couldn’t imagine what would make them feel reluctant to come to their family when they have problem where they know that their family will help them to go through any hard situation. On the other hand, seeing families where children barely see their parents makes me think about what thing they would feel free to talk to their parents when they barely talk. One of our speakers said he faced a serious problem when he was a child and he decides not to tell his parents. He thought he was fine but he was wrong. It was not easy for him to deal with this memory and he later realize that it was the reason that caused him to do something he feels guilty about.
So, this is 1 of reflections I gained from the YSEALI program. It is important to have a suitable environment for a child to grow up in order to prepare them to go to the outside world and to be a good adult in the future. As children are our future, it is also our duty to do something to make sure that they have enough support from the society and are growing up in the way it is supposed to be.
BTW. Yesterday was my birthday and I don’t think I should make this blog much longer as it is already too long. Thanks Lisa and Thanks my host family for the cakes, party, and presents. Such a good year for me especially when it was snowing this morning!! 🙂
Center for Asylum Protection