By Latdamone Photsavang, Laos
Today is a final day in Montana and anniversary a month after spending time here, as well as a month that we are far away from our home country from our family, we are 16 life’s from Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar who traveled across the ocean, mountain, and the world to the same destination calls “Montana”.
We all come here in the same topic as Civil Society, in the same vision, the same hoping under making different in a better way to our community, to see people in our community have a better life, not matter that they are different ethnic, religious, sex, language, and nationality. We all understand those issues deeply in our heart and we try to do for them in different ways such as: communicate by media, by supporting and promoting education, by empowerment their economic, by promoting health care, by being a volunteer, by supporting a legal, by encouraging people and by protecting environment.
For a month that we have to work, to learn from each other and build a relationship between ASEAN people and also between American and ASEAN.
Staring from the first day we came here with the dream, the thing that this Professional Fellowship Program have gave to us during in Montana are valuable experience, we had very warm welcome from American people, we have trained many things by Professional people in the U.S such as Leadership Development, Western Communication, Civil Engagement, NGO Foundation and Fundraising, teach us how to writing Action Plan, ect.
Matched us to work with the fellow organizations and local government that related to our job, we achieved knowledge and learn a lot from those organizations that what do they do for their community; all fellows are very honor us as well as we got honor from the U.S government.
We lived with American host family to learn the culture, more than this we spent time together to cooking, talking, hinging, eating, and many activities, from day by day we became a relationship and part of American family and it was very hard when the time that we had to say good bye them.
Continuing from first day that we came here with dreaming until today after we gained many things for a month, we come up with hoping and goal. We are all together in the Mansfield Center to listen feedback the Action Plan from the home work, we share our experience and share what we are going to do when we return home, everybody presented their project front of committees with their strongly believing and professional presentation skill.
Women came up with sentences that inspire me a lot:
One Thai woman who try to help refugee people in the camp said “do not decide people from external if you don’t know how did they face in their previous life”
One Vietnamese woman who work for volunteer group “Loving is how much you spend the time with”
One Cambodian woman who work for economic empowerment women said ”I want to see micro business women can grow their business”
One Myanmar woman said “I want to see my ethnic language in the education system”
One Lao Woman said “Your money $100 can change the life of one woman forever”
This program gives wonderful experience that we cannot get in my home country, This program is not only traveling but this is learning program with supporting the funding for participants to do their development projects when return their home countries.
In my thinking about YSEALI program supported by the U.S government is awesome strategy or can say you give opportunity, knowledge and experience for young people to make change in their countries is a long term benefit or “if you plant apple seed, you will get many apples from apple tree”