by Grazzia Maria Mendoza Chirinos

Life would be much easier if as human beings we learned to give ourselves to others instead of expecting to be on the receiving end. As stated by Rob McDonald on our recent visit to Flathead, it is a waste of time to be upset or angry, let’s learn to deal with it… and so SUSI scholars have dealt with it!

Today we close the first chapter of our SUSI program, our stay in Missoula has been rewarding and a journey of learning and re-learning, if there is such a word. We have been presented with a variety of situations which we have been fortunate to learn from and challenges which we have readily overcome. Let me start by sharing about today and about the 24 days which have passed by.

First, this morning as we prepared to present the product of our learning and the proposals of how this learning will change our context we felt the sense of accomplishment of a job well done. Presentations were enriching and showed the groups’ hard work and disposition to bring innovation to education in our countries. It also showed how diverse our way of thinking is as everybody in their own style conveyed the message of the future of our contexts as we positively visualize it. From interdisciplinary thematic syllabi, to setup of libraries, to citizenship projects through drama and collaboration, thru interflex and music as a means to teach history, adding service learning and cinema to enhance teaching and learning of language skills and blogs and sites for teachers’ resources. Our projects showed how much the program has led to reflect and analyze critically how all talks, seminars, workshops, visits and activities will be used to advance education in the world.

Next, the program has triggered important reflections, in depth comparisons of realities of the United States with our contexts, and has brought a feeling of achievement every time we took a step and completed it. It has provided us with self-recognition of strengths, weaknesses and areas of opportunity. We have learned to manage ourselves respectfully in a group as diverse as a set of fingerprints. We have established strong connections that hopefully will last for a lifetime. We have learnt to “deal with it” by providing opinions and support, learning how our actions influence and impact those around us. We have learnt to see through the lens of a country that has worked really hard to promote their values, their culture and their traditions; many of which they feel proud of and others which they are working to modify. We have seen their contradictions and diverse opinions on important topics, their own analysis, their own opposition, we have learned the raw truth and it has helped shape our thinking. Oh, how important it is to see the humbleness of those who work hard to maintain an identity, that work hard to make changes in their own lives, while being of service to the world.

Finally, in 25 days we have understood that the United States is a country where people open up to offer to others and share their learning and beliefs. It is a country where people are interested in giving, more than in receiving. It is a country that truly promotes understanding by providing experiential tools like this program. It is a country where citizens constantly reflect about their successes and failures, without letting the latter stop them but instead using them as a means of learning. It is a country where specifically Missoulians opened their hearts and home to let us learn about their habits, customs and traditions. What did we discover through this understanding? That we are not so different! That just like the United States we also work hard, learn a lot and reflect about our mistakes and take action. We also open our hearts and welcome everybody willing to be part of our lives. We are also in constant analysis of who we are, what we do and how we affect our surroundings.

We are different and yet we are so similar! Our paths follow similar goals, and perhaps if we worked closely together, the world might be a better place. Too idealist? Maybe…but then again, haven’t idealists been the ones who have created change? Then, let’s be idealists in our own contexts and make that change!

Blessings and warm wishes SUSI Scholars 2015!

Thank you Pat, Sydney, Mel, Rob and Deena!


Helena Stories

After 3 weeks of a variety of Activities and field trips, the SUSI Scholars visited Helena today. One can have a huge amount of information just with a click on the net, or by reading any book about it.

I was in charge of the blog today, I was ready to take the maximum notes, but during our visit to the capitol building, I was impressed by Mr.Dallas Miller, the Historical Society officer who narrated to us the story of every single corner in the building.
As I had noticed on one of the paintings that says: “We know the culture through stories spoken by mothers to children on reservations and in immigrant communities”. I would say, that we can learn about a place or people either from the Internet or books, but we cannot feel connected to the story, except when told by someone who lived the experience.

We were really lucky to have Mr.Miller, who had the privilege to be guided by a man who knew Mrs.Manfield when she was studying at the university. I felt we were having accurate information. About many events that are related to Montana.

Our visit to Helena was also remarkable as we were introduced to State Government, and we were honored meeting Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who demonstrated great interest and satisfaction in the field of Education, as he stated that the majority of kids at school have access to free breakfast at school, as for the integration of technology in education, his reply was quite wise for he gives priority to the transition between K-12 and higher education with the chance to have free online courses to learn any foreign language.

Our visit to helena did not stop at the official visits, but we alsso had the opportunity to explore the Missouri River by boat to see the Gates of mountains and learn more about the Lewis and Clark expedition. It was also a relaxing journey as a story was told by the tour guide.
Indeed we have many stories to hear these couple of days, as we will go to the History Museum and there is no one better than Thomas , our coursemate and a HIstory teacher, who will tell us a nice story.

By Kheira Mezough, Algeria

Flathead Indian Reservation

By Corina Ceban, Moldova

June 22 was a day full of “wilderness”.  The Flathead Indian Reservation is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. The tribes are a combination of the Salish, the Pend d’Oreille and the Kootenai. Of the approximately 7,753 enrolled tribal members, about 5,000 live on or near the reservation.

Early in the morning, we discussed the role of Two Eagle River School in the community with its focus on Native American youth grades 8-12. It is an alternative school of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation. Rodney Bird, the superintendent, showed us the students’ quilting works. The process of quilting uses a needle and thread to join two or more layers of material to make a quilt. Typically, quilting is done with three layers: the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and backing material. The quilter’s hand or sewing machine passes the needle and thread through all layers and then brings the needle back up. The process is repeated across the entire area where quilting is wanted. Even the boys have their works done during the lessons. In this way, they are taught not only art and craft, but also mathematics. Their students do enjoy sewing big quilts, as they give them to some elder members of their community or take them home for their families.


Students, staff, parents, and community share the responsibility for creating and supporting a safe and healthy learning environment. The majority of the students are tribal members as well as many of the staff are Native Americans. One of them was willing to retell us about their life in the community and in school. He was wearing clothes that represent its culture. Our Elders teach us that the most effective way to invest in the future is through education. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes strive to build a self-sufficient society and economy and the primary way to do so is by investing in future generations.

Of course, he did a short “exhibition” (as he said) of a tribal dance and then, all of us learned the dance of friendship. We were dancing and shaking hands in the same time.

Robert McDonald welcomed the group and provided an overview of the Salish and Kootenai tribes’ history and relations with state and federal governments. “Preparing for Success and Building for the Future” was the theme of the last year Annual Report of the Tribal Council. It gives information on different topics such as economic development, natural resources, education, and human services. Robert told us that the Kootenai Culture Committee made continuous progress in repatriation, development of language curriculum, and preservations of traditions and culture.

All of us had the possibility to enjoy the lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. It has excellent views to the largest natural freshwater lake in the USA west of the Mississippi river.

After lunch, we met Mr. Mike Tyron, Community Health Director, who taught us a traditional game. Native American stickball is considered one of the oldest team sports in North America and is the sport that evolved into lacrosse, the modern day sport. Although the first recorded writing on the topic of stickball was not until the mid-1600s, there is evidence that the game had been developed and played hundreds of years before that. Though the exact origins of the game may be unknown, it is safe to assume that Native Americans were playing stickball before the coming of the New World settlers. Stickball can be played with one or two wooden sticks made from tree trunks or saplings of hardwood such as Hickory. The wood is thinned at one end, bent around, and attached to the handle to form a loop that is bound with leather or electrical tape. Leather strips are stretched across the back of the loops on the sticks to form netting so the ball can be caught and held in the cup of the stick

Corina2 Corina3

The more national, the more global

by Hui Zhou, China

It is our last weekend in Missoula. I have already started to miss everything in Missoula even though I have not left. It will be hard to say goodbye.

We are free today. Some scholars went hiking, some went shopping and some were invited to have afternoon tea by their host families.

Today is Father’s Day in the U.S. and in many countries around the world. Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers in SUSI’s group.

When I was young, we didn’t celebrate and even didn’t know Father’s Day. We only celebrated our Chinese traditional festivals. Nowadays, in the cities in China, people, especially young people celebrate lots of western festivals, such as April Fools’ Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, etc. Before some special days, people can buy Easter chocolate eggs, costumes for Halloween and Christmas decorations in shops and malls. It shows that American and western festival cultures have spread into China. I talked about celebrating festivals with some scholars and got to know people in Portugal didn’t celebrate Halloween either, but now some of them do maybe because of the English teachers.

Festival is only a part of the culture. Along with the economic globalization, different cultures mingling with one another is becoming an inevitable trend. But some Chinese young people get lost in the western festivals and children even cannot distinguish Chinese traditional festivals from those of the other countries, so how can they continue and inherit Chinese traditional festival culture? In 2008, the Chinese government set Chinese traditional festivals, such as the Tomb-sweeping Day, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-autumn Festival as the legal holidays. I think this is one of the reasons.

I really agree with what Dr. Udo Fluck said, “Cherish your own culture, respect the others, otherwise you will lose your own”. In the economic development and cultural exchanges, one’s own cultural traditions should be protected. The loss of one’s own culture characteristics will basically lose its vitality and the sustainable development cannot be achieved. World culture has attracted millions of people, its charm lies in its diversity. Cultural diversity is bound to implement the requirements of the world cultural prosperity. What is called “the more national, the more of the world”. It is necessary to identify with one’s national culture and respect other cultures, learn from each other, seek common ground while shelving differences, respect the diversity of world culture and jointly promote prosperity and progress of human civilization.

Yesterday was the Dragon Boat Festival in China, and it was my mother’s birthday, too. I hope all my friends and relatives had a happy and healthy day and hope my mother had a wonderful birthday. And also best wishes from the U.S. to my father and my husband on Father’s Day!


June 20, 2015

By Elu Kanisius, Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Montana State is the four largest state in USA which is a well-known place among the other states in USA. It has a unique landscape, beauty of view, variety of wildlife and types of sport which never owned by other countries around the world. One of them is river-rafting, a type sport for the people of Missoula.
Normally, the people in Missoula consider rafting as a recreational outdoor activity of their family which uses an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other body of water.
The SUSI Scholars Program has been undertaken for almost three weeks in Missoula. Some of the programs were conducted at the University of Montana and some of them were out of the university. On Saturday June 20, 2015 at 12:30 – 18:00 isa special moment and an unforgettable experience that has never been practiced in the life of some SUSI Scholars 2015. Rafting is a kind of leadership program which organized by the Program Team in Missoula where it is a thrilling experience. On the other hand, for SUSI Scholars 2015 who have never done rafting in their home country, they felt afraid in the beginning, but soon everyone would like to try of rafting although without the rapids. Rafting is often done on white-water or different degrees of rough water, and generally represents a new and challenging environment for participants.
Ms. Kitty Withgranbe with two friends her; Kaare Tollefson and John was led the River-Rafting activity from P. Hall to the Clark Fork River. It took an hour to get there. In arriving to the river, Ms. Kitty with her friends Kaare and John explained us in detail on the way of how we could be able to use wave jacket and pedal. It is aimed to avoid unpredictable accident during the rafting. There were three boats prepared by the Ms. Kitty. Therefore, the rafting was divided into three groups with eight persons in a boat. Firstly, some of the SUSI Scholars were felt scare. However, most of us were happy.

Title, I have none.

By: You-yu Chiang

This is written in reflection of what has transpired over the trip to Yellowstone, over the course of the program so far to as of this moment 7:14 pm, June 19, 2015.

I sat in the tub, trying to play flashbacks of the foregone passing day in my mind. The pieces and bits of the magnificent scenery seen, however, failed me. They did not speak to me as distinctly as when I finally gave up the impossible undertaking of blogging it logically and sequentially. I gave in to feeling, and started to feel the every drop of water running through my hair, my skin, and I finally yielded most readily, perceptively, humbly to receive the messages Nature has left for me with this experience, though oddly in the tub.

Simply put, the trip to Yellowstone is a sensual experience.

It brings me to realize again how important it is to connect ourselves to our immediate surroundings with our every sense attentively, be it Nature, objects like the tub and water, or people, even just the siblings who were teaching each others, “Don’t touch me. He started it first,” when I sat beside them awaiting the Old Faithful to display its wonders.

Sensual, in what sense, you may ask. For example, the artificial hot spring at Chico did not bother me as much. It instead connected to my another sensual experience in Japan, where I was soaked in natural hot springs, with white snow and twinkling stars. Back in the pool, when I felt my senses, especially skin, every pore, vein, the blood running through, I was reminded of and awakened to perceive the present moment, there I was, even just in the pool. Senses and yielding agendas of the day to senses wondrously connects the past to the present, awaiting another awakening, the future.

It is later realized as a matter of course that it would be this way, as senses are how we bond with our immediate surrounding, the smell, touch, sound, vision, and thereby concieve memory. They play on your thoughts and registers in your mind as memory, filling the blank that is composed when events transpire. I love it when I spaced out to be in the moment, to feel with my skin the breeze, the heat, to touch the grass, to listen to the splashing water down at the Canyon, and to see with our own eyes, the blueness and the greenness of Mammoth Hot Springs, and how they all flow together in symphony to surround and embrace us.

Memory would never be precisely the same as of the moment it is conceived, but weaved by associations to senses, they can be awakened again and again, just as the things our our favorite childhood cookies do. Connected with senses, memory reaches deeper within, taking roots, starting to twirl a life of their own. Each time a memory resurges, it takes a different shape and refreshes our sense of being alive.

Sometimes we lose memories, thinking we’ve forgotten the event itself, but very often through associations with smell, sound, color, they would be brought back. Each time they are brought back, they come familiar but perhaps with shades of bizarre differences. To have the surprises of the differences, there first we need to be in the moment.

To a place like the Yellowstone, it is also significant to be simply standing there, perceiving the magnificence of Nature itself, immersed, covered, buried even by the immensity, as feeling insignificant is essential to a process of unifying with the whole of Nature and feeling the self gone and lost to ease and peace, the lullaby Nature sings.

Now, to at least make some specific connections to the actual trip, there is really nothing to complain. Back in the van with the quintessential American music Rob, Captain of Team Bison, had specifically prepared for us, which is Bruce Springsteen by the way, I asked Simon if everything had turned out as he planned. He said, mostly, except the wolves.

In my mind, though we didn’t see wolves, I found peace with it as encounters with Nature are precious, when they are serendipitous as such. So are with people we bond.

Continue with what Simon said.

I also like it a lot when Simon said, again in the van, (with the music of, Neil Young now) “Butte is not the most welcoming gateway to the West coz the pit is a reminder of what human consumption has done to the environment.”

Being there, connecting to Nature through senses, would be the best way to receive Nature’s welcome. In this mindset, even the sulfur was to my liking. Scientific knowledge needs actual experience to register in mind. Life, being alive, having live, needs being there to register, too.

Now something of what Kanisius said, when Siemeen pointed out the M on the mountain, suggesting we were close to home. He screamed in joy, “Missoula, we miss you!” and everyone in Team Bison laughed a hearty laugh connectingly. I took it to note that unconsciously, we’ve all made Missoula our second home, and it is to my liking.

20 June, 2015 15:53

oday is Friday, June 19

By Khurshed, Tajikistan

Hello everyone,

I am writing my blog. Sorry about date, 12-35am, Saturday, June 20. Time passes so quickly. All scholars as usually like to get up early and go to the Food Zoo
which has a variety of coffee drinks and juices, soups, an extensive salad bar, fresh fruits and so many choices of meals, but on Friday it was closed when
I and three scholars went there. Because of broken pipe it will be closed till Monday. Then we went to its temporary place which is the University Bookstore and
had breakfast there. At 8-00am we all scholars were in NAC 103 where Sydney met us to go over today’s sessions. Mel also was and apologized for the Food Zoo that
has been repairing. She explained us about volunteer manual, asked us to fill in some options that will be the same time on Sunday, June 21. One of them Shopping
with Sean and the second is hiking with Mel and Pat. I have chosen a hiking because I will be able to buy things in my country where much cheaper. But if you buy
something in the USA, it will sound.
At 8-30 Dr. Andrea Vernon came and told us about the role of civic engagement and volunteerism in the USA society. She talked about an introduction to service
learning pedagogy and the role that volunteerism can play in different approaches to education. We mindfully listened to her. She showed us some records and slides.
During her session she was conducting it smoothly. It was great. Also she asked the questions the group of mine and the scholars answered them and the scholars
asked her questions too. At 10-00am her session was over. Kanisius and Sabankilie asked me to lead them to Exchange bookstore and shop books after lunch.
At 10-00am Sydney, Pat and Sean drove us the scholars to the Poverello Center. At the Poverello Center Anastasia Bakos met and told us about the Poverello Center that
provides food, shelter, help, and hope to Missoula’s homeless and underserved populations. They have many services dedicated to serving those in need, including
short-term emergency shelter, veteran housing, hot meals and pantry services, bathroom and shower facilities, medical services, support groups, mail and phone
services, and multiple educational classes. After talking she asked us to sign in the Group Volunteer form we did it voluntarily. She divided us into two groups. All
scholars were active, and worked conscientiously and tirelessly. We cleaned the mattresses, washed floors and so on. It was great. I was surprised. At 12-30pm we
finished our volunteer work and drove back to Pantzer Hall.
At 12-50pm I went out to the behind of Pantzer Hall and met Thomas, Kanisius and Sabankilie were talking there about something and I asked them they told me that
they want to go the Mansfield library to phone their families. I joined them too. We went there and met Deena who was printing on that time. She explain us dial how
to call. I talked with my mother. Kanisius could not talked with his family. Sabankilie could dial and talked with somebody and repeated it several times. Then we
rode to the one dining room to have lunch. When I came to the table Sabankilie was complaining about expensive food, Kanisius laughed. Then I told Sabankilie some
stories of my personal life and problems in order to calm down, but no reaction. Eventually I reassured him. After lunch we watched an American Football Game in the
field. Also I talked with a coach of team.
At 5-30 I with Sabankilie and Kanisius rode to the shops of books. Many choices of books in the shops. We spent there about four hours and bought books which we need.
We rode back to Pantzer Hall at 9-40pm. At 11pm Surya came to me and helped me with his camera which I borrowed in the morning in order to take some group photos our
spent time of day. I said to him many thanks. June 19 was great.
Many thanks!