“You must be the change you want to see in the world” – Gandhi

By Ha Ngan Ha, Vietnam

Sunday, September 11 2016

It has been nearly three weeks since my first day in USA. Time flies so fast when you have so many tasks to do, many activities to participate, many new things to learn. This morning, when having breakfast at Glacier Institute, Peter asked me whether I missed my home country or not. Only until that moment did I realize that how long I had not talked to my parents, how long I had not heard their voice. I left my home to study in other city when I was 18 and only came back on some special occasions. It means that I had very little time with my parents and sometimes I was too busy to talk to them. Peter’s question gave me an alarm that I was living too fast, too hastily that I forgot what is really important to me. I joined this program due to many reasons and the crucial one is the wish to do something, first of all for myself, my family and then for my country. This program not only provides me necessary knowledge and skills about environment and leadership which will help me a lot when I come back Vietnam but also gives me chance to look back, examine my goal of life, identify my priority and remind me that family is always a very important part of my life. Now, I have missed my family already!

Before visiting USA, I have learned that the relationship between teacher and student is quite open but only when coming here can I feel that how relaxed the relationship is. At least, not many Vietnamese teachers can play soccer with students as excitedly as Dr. Len did.

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Image 1: Playing soccer at Glacier Institute

After leaving Glacier Institute, we had a great lunch on Flathead Lake

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Image 2: Lunch at Flathead Lake

In the afternoon, we had a chance to visit the National Bison Range where we can see a real big alive bison. The main purpose of this Range is to remove surplus bison and monitor herd genetics and health. With new calves being born each spring, it is sometimes necessary to reduce the herd to protect the grassland forage upon which the bison and other wildlife depend.

We had a short tour by car in the National Bison Range to watch animals here.

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Image 3: Bison
Do you know that bison became the first national mammal of United State just in May, in 2016?

We also dropped by the Garden of one thousand Buddhas on the way back to Missoula.The purpose of the Garden is to bring about the positive transformation within those who visit, in response to the negativity that abounds in the world today.

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And finish the day with a big bowl of Bun Bo Hue at Vietnam Grill restaurant was a really smart decision.

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We definitely had a busy day like every day in our program. There are some days when we can go out and experient the US culture and some days we just sit in class and study. However, in my view of point, each day of mine here has full of joy and new things to discover. I have changed a lot since the first day until now and still looked forward to any changes in the future. Like Gandhi once said: “You must be the change you want to see in the world”.

Thank you for reading my blog and have a good evening.

Cheers!

Journey to the Crown of the Continent

By Afrizal Maarif, Republic of Indonesia

Saturday – September 10th, 2016

 

“Climate change is real. It is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you.”

Leonardo DiCaprio,
Oscar winner 2016, best actor for The Revenant

It was a cold and breezing morning. The wind blew pretty hard and the temperature was quite lower than the day before. But, though it was cold, that morning we were excited because we were about to see a natural miracle, a beautiful place that had been declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Crown of the Continent, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Our journey to Glacier preceded by a brief presentation about the Crown of the Continent led by Ms Sheena Pate, Project Coordinator of National Geographic Crown of The Continent Geotourism Project. Sheena provided several information for us about the Crown of the Continent e.g. the history of the parks, the geographic characters, tourism in the parks, cultural and environmental heritage and many more. It was amazing to meet Sheena. Her explanation helped us so much to deepen our understanding regarding the parks.

Then our journey began. We loaded up to the cars and then left for the Crown. One of our unforgettable journey in our life was about to start. We were so excited! The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is the union of the Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and the Glacier National Park in the United States. The parks was established in 1932. At 457,614 hectares, the International Peace Park forms the centrepiece of the much larger transboundary “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem. For the exact, this transboundary geotourism park is located in Montana State (US), Alberta and also British Columbia Province (Canada).

The beauty of the Crown
Image Credit: Author, 2016

On the way to the Glacier, we were shown by an exquisite view in our left and right side. From the mountainous terrain, the green meadow in the hill and also a little snow at the peak blended perfectly to form a wonderful view of the parks. Not so long after, we finally arrived in Logan Pass, one of trails to enter the Glacier. The temperature was very cold that time! It was likely about 8 Celsius Degree, and also the wind blew pretty hard made it colder for us. It was really cold till it got deep into my bones. Even I wore three layers of warm jacket that time and I could still feel the breeze. But after minutes of walk, the breeze is not felt anymore since we saw an amazing view right in front of us. It was so exquisite till we didn’t feel cold anymore! The ecosystems here were preserved very well. We could see those natural beauty with all of its component lived in harmony. We did enjoy our exploration in the Crown of the Continent.

The snowy peak, the river stream and the green meadow. What a spectacular view!
Image Credit: Author, 2016

 

What has been an unforgettable moment for some of us is that we got our snow experience for the first time. Special thanks rewarded to Dr. Len and teams for taking us to see, feel and touch the snow for real in our life. Although it was only just a little piece of snow, but it still was amazing and we did really enjoy to play with the snow for the very first time.

Some of YSEALI fellows experienced snow for the first time in their life

Image Credit: Dr. Len Broberg, 2016

In this international peace park, we had learnt a lot of things about the transboundary resource management. In order to manage the resource like this, it is pretty much complex. In the lecture, we had been told that there are several authorities that manage the parks. Some of them are; US Forest Service, US Parks Service, Province of British Columbia, Province of Alberta, State of Montana, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai and Blood whose are the Native American Tribe. Looking at the number of authorities, it is indeed jurisdictionally complex. But even with the complexity on it, through several collaborations and the common understanding to preserve the natural resources, it is absolutely possible to protect this very beautiful geotourism site. Now, such harmful activities that might threatened the sustainability of the geotourism park, e.g. mining, timber harvesting and hunting had been banned in these areas to ensure that the endemic like; grizzly bear, mountain lines, wolf, mountain goat, deer, and the fish in the river systems might live in harmony in their own home. Together forever, let us always protect these amazing Crown of the Continent and other natural places all over the world. Let us not take this planet for granted!

Explore the power in your heart!!!

By Narintadeach Charoensombut (Top), Thailand

Thursday, September 8 2016

Today, we started with Grassroots Efforts to Mainstream Energy Initiatives presented by Ms. Diana Maneta, Executive Director of Montana Renewable Energy Association. In this session, Ms. Maneta provided knowledge about her effort to expand using renewable energy in Montana. There are 54 from coal, 36 from hydropower, 6 from wind, 4 from natural gas and petroleum in the State. We learned both the benefits and risks of using renewable energy. The renewable energy is widely available, reduces vulnerability to volatile fossil fuel prices, reduces air and water pollution, scalable as well as creates jobs. However, renewable energy could contribute to the lost of biodiversity. For example, hydropower affects the fish habitat and the wind turbine kills the bird.

After our discussion, we went to Homestead Organics Farm. We got a warm welcome from Laura and Henry Garber with fresh baby carrot and homemade cereal bar. Homestead Organic Farm is a small organic vegetable and poultry farm with got organic produce certificate. This farm also provided community services for elderly care, disability and youth education program. In this farm, Garber family provided us a program to study about sufficiency organic farm. While we walked around the farm, there were two super friendly dogs come to hail and lead the way for us. It was my first time to see and harvest carrot and pea seed. Moreover, we had a chance to pet the goats. After we finished our work, we had an organic lunch prepared with product from the farm. It was a wonderful place for us!

Gobbling Turkey

Harvesting carrot seed

Shikh, beard guy with beard goat

These super friendly dogs feel so sad because they are not allowed to enter goat area

Ms.Garber preparing our lunch

Then we went to Valley Solar of Ravalli Electric Co-op. Valley solar is the new community solar started in 2015.The aim of valley solar is to engage the community to use renewable energy. We also had an opportunity to visit their solar farm. This solar farm have power to produce energy for only 4 houses, however, this initiative inspired people to use renewable energy.

Mr. Narintadeach CHAROENSOMBUT Bioprocess Engineering Laboratory
Graduate School of Chemical Engineering
Kasetsart University
Tel : (+66)83-108-8844
E-mail : Ch.narintadeach
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Diplomacy for Effective Management on International Common-pool Resources

By Rithiya Sreu, Kingdom of Cambodia

September 9, 2016

This Friday was the most productive day I’ve had in my life – visiting Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS), and National Park Conservation Association (NPCA), an institution works to protect rivers from mining and drilling.

Heading up North of Missoula, I witnessed amazing landscapes ranging from coniferous forests to dark-green wilderness to deep valleys to high mountains; some wears snow-cap, others are bald due to wildfire. Together, they form a mind-blowing landscape, especially for people from Southeast Asia like me. I happened to sit next to a stranger, female, blonde, majoring in Environmental Studies at University of Montana (UM), where my Climate Change and Transboundary Resource Issues class took place. We discussed education, environment, and why we ended up at UM.

We arrived by lunch time! We ate at Picnic Table by the lake – crystal-clear and sunny. Tom Bansak, Assistant Director at FLBS welcomed us and presented the inception of the organization, its researches and data on biological, chemical, and physical features of the lake, as well as outreach activities that FLBS has done to preserve lakes and other bodies of fresh water. Generally, each lake does not only possess the ability to balance ecosystem, but also provides priceless economic values, amazing recreation, and spectacular events of animal kingdoms. On the other hand, we met with NPCA’s Senior Program Manager Michael Jamison to discuss what we can do to protect Flathead River and other iconic places from mining. Michael also highlighted History of Native Americans and the management of Crown of the Continent which solidified my foundation to visit the Glacier National Park, a joint International Peace Park by the United States and Canada.

After dinner, we played v-ball and American football to strengthen the bonds of friendship between YSEALI fellows and UM students. When the sky was getting dark, we sat together around bonfire, had lectured on wildlife and a demonstration on animal structures found across the ecosystem. Last but not least, we roasted marshmallow, played guitar, and sang a song.

I am thankful for what YSEALI Academic Fellowship has offered me. Literally, I am indebted to U.S State Department, U.S Embassy in Cambodia, University of Montana’s program managers, professors, coordinating staffs, students, and my co-fellows for making all of these happened. It was indeed an unforgettable Friday, as memories will always be treasured.

PS: This is my very first blog, thanks to the Mansfield Center for this opportunity. With FIRST, there will be SECOND and THIRD, as Lao Tzu once said, “1,000 li journey begins with one step”.

Agriculture is our way!

By Dhion Ghafara Herputra, Indonesia

Wednesday, September 7 2016

When the young people who have studied high education and considers himself too smart to blend into the community who work by their hoe and just have a simple ideals, then it is better that education is not provided at all. (Tan Malaka)

Very pleasant, two weeks we’ve been here, thankful, every day is always a lot of knowledge and experience that we get. Always fun to be environmental student, back to learn about nature and try new experiences for a better life.

Today we tried a new experience for the activity service project in Garden city Harvest and courses in ecological agriculture and society (PEAS) farm. Our activities this time accompanied by Mr. Josh Slotnick as director of the farm and a lecturer for the program in ecological agriculture and society and some of the volunteer’s including undergraduate, master’s, and the GTA, from the environmental study.

During in field, we learn and practice directly about how to harvest agricultural products: fruits and vegetables such as apples, pumpkins, celery, onions, etc. We also learned how to package agricultural products to make sure that the products always ready in order to be sent to foodbank and garden city in a state of good harvest and fresh.

Values and knowledges that we got from the agricultural sector is agricultural will forever be an important sector because it is able to meet the basic human needs, can employ a lot of humans resources, meet food security, become the basis of economic growth, and a sector to maintaining sustainable environment.

Therefore, when there are people ask why we should learn about the agricultural? Ask again, why should we as people eat?

It is correct for us as a generation of young future leaders to be more concerned and conscious about supporting a better environment and healthier communities.

Don’t forget, I represent our new family, YSEALI Environmental Study University of Montana 2016 wanna say:

happy birthday to you Angel the 19th (Malaysia), may God bless you. We love you so much! 🙂

JOURNEY TO THE RICHEST HILL ON EARTH

By Htoo Myat Hlaing (Steven), Myanmar (Burma)

Tuesday, September 6 2016

It’s 32 degree Fahrenheit in the morning of Missoula City. The breeze is sending shivers down my spine while I am trying to get on a bus to go to Helena, the capital city of Montana. Traveling under the big cloudy sky, surrounded by misty mountains and larch trees is such a good way to start my day. Thinking of exploring more about Montana ahead and to witness “Richest Hill on Earth” makes me very excited.

After two hours of riding, we have finally reached to Helena, big sky country as they say. Every part of Montana’s sky is bigger than any other places I have ever been. While gazing the beauty of the town, we, YSEALI fellow, have finally reached to Governor’s office of economic development’s back entrance. Words can’t describe how amazing the building, art, architecture and interior designs are. Let me stop drooling and go inside a room to meet with John C. Rogers, Chief Business Development Officer. The room is like what I have seen in movies where the chief awaits us with a round table with flags behind his back. He explained so much about the state’s economy and how diverse it is. His economic point of views are very admirable. “ I love Canadians because they drive all the way down and spend a lot of money” he said, he has sense of humor as he made us laugh while he was giving us information. Sire Roger also explained how the department works together with different agencies and how they collaborate with different stakeholders on different issues. After the meeting, we took photos with him holding our nations flags.

Then walked to the Department of Environmental quality. Mr. Tom Livers, Director of DEQ welcomed us with Donuts and coffee. Tom and his another 4 colleagues from different department also came to tell us more about different issues on how they manage the quality of air and water . I can totally relate the way they make policies and regulations with my country. Such as considering and replying public comments and prioritizing public participation. I got to know about the advantages and disadvantages of using renewable energy. He also related the similarity of Columbia river and Mekong river. I could literally visualize the scenario and reflect.

We had a lunch at Chinese buffet place and all of us were like “finally, Asian food”, shows how we miss our food. Cravings satisfied and we were given a chance to see the national museum. We got to see a lot of ancient items, biodiversity and a woman kindly told us the stories of some valuable items. One story of a mining worker who died during the worst fire disaster made me and some of us cried.

Finally we are going to the infamous “Richest Hill on Earth” at Butte. Its an hour drive from Helena. I can’t help but keep imaging how it will look like. When we reached there, we were told to wear jackets because it is cold. I stepped outside and it was freezing. The scenery was different from what I have imagined. Most of the mining area and materials have been abandoned. An old geologist named Joeh explained us about the stories from over 100 years ago including all the details of how the authorities have been reserving the mine.I was really amazed by how respective companies and the federal government remediate all the environmental impacts from the whole century by using billions of money. It is quite bizarre that so much valuable extractive natural resources is in one place where the Columbia river, the main water source for the united states begins. I am sure my nation will have to face such kind dilemma between country’s economy and the environment in the future.

Today’s field trip and meeting with the state departments were very valuable for me and I am sure it was for everyone. I could reflect and take some tools that I can relate to my country’s situation. We had a delicious dinner at Butte. Finally we are leaving Butte to go back to Missoula. It is 36 degree Fahrenheit. The breeze is sending shivers down my spine while I am getting on the bus. Returning to our inn under the big raining sky, surrounded by the misty mountains and the larch tress.

Vietnam Independence Day at Missoula!

By Hoang The Trung, Vietnam

Friday, September 2 2016

Happy Vietnam Independence Day 2016!!!  Beginning a special Independence Day at class about Strategic Planning and Evaluation this morning.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” quoted from Ms. Susan Hay Patrick at United Way of Missoula County. This quote woke me up inside and from that I started reflecting on myself what I need to do as an YSEALI member. The lecture impressed me much how to get a great strategic planning and program evaluation and strategic planning not be a series of unalterable truths and immobile goals. I actually learned a lot through many questions form my friend fellows and liked quoted form Ms. Susan’s lecture, such as “Look out the window, not just in the mirror”, “You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside”.

Then, we had Dr. Phear’s class about Leadership and Communication strategies for effecting change. With 5 topics about: Live green, leadership and organization, civic engagement, youth empowerment and I want to my voice heard which we discussed how to organize an effective project and work with local government.

About Welcome Feast, as University of Montana (UM) students for this event to ate hot dog with live music, campus life information, and many fun activities. Everything is so perfect, we also got many free gifts form campus departments, so it made us feel like we are a part of UM.

In this afternoon, we had Earth Ethics class with Dr. Daniel Spencer again. I do like his participatory and interactive class. For today, he divided us to 5 groups and act as difference characters. I was represented as “Nate” who is director of the university farm. We discussed and exchanged about anthropocentrism, individual right, and environmental reform. We hope to visit PEAS Farm soon.

After that, Ms. Patricia McKenzie met us to provide an overview of the library at UM. This is biggest library in Montana which I never seen before going to UM. And, I have spent a lot of time to explore UM Library.

Finally, we went to the downtown with Pat and Mel to experience First Friday Gallery Night which takes place from 1700-2200 on the first Friday of each month. We were all excited to see picture in the art opening in galleries, museums, stores, and coffee shops. What a wonderful night!

Thank you for reading! Love!