Hour of the Wolf

Ingmar Bergman says about his 1968 film with the same name:

"The Hour of the Wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is deepest, when nightmares are most real. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful."- In sum it is the darkest hour, where mankind seems to be lost.

We woke up early, in the “hour of the wolf”, to explore the wonders of Yellowstone Park and have the opportunity to see real wolves.

I could write, today, about the wondrous things that we, as a group, were privileged to see in the midst of the park. From the majestic grizzly bear, carefully guiding her cubs behind her, full of motherly love to the emotional tales of survival and triumph of underwhelmed packs. I could talk about the size and the numbers of Bison or about the fact that sometimes bull bison escape their females and go “party” on the road. About the large green fields, filled with multi colored flowers, clear lakes and silver rivers, brimming with animal life or even about the large conifers that witness and attest life in the park for centuries. About the hues of green, blue and yellow in the volcanic springs or the strength behind the waterfalls in the Grand Canyon. About the acidic smell of sulfur or the energy behind a geyser explosion. About team names (professional tourist, powdered milk and bison) or bonding experiences.

But I won’t speak about those happenings. I will keep them in my heart for a long time, but I will write of something more important. Sometimes when you are communing with nature, enjoying the wild, it leads to a train of thought on what Human society has changed across Time.

I will talk about the almighty, all knowing and all important photographs. Photos are a bit like memories frozen in a piece of data. To some of us, when we’ll review them, they will freshen up the memories, they will bring the little tear or the shine to the eye, and they will help prolong the feelings and the circumstances. They will show others a piece of what we experienced, and when shared in social media they can make our friends jealous – photo near a pretty scenario – one more point in the cool battle!!

The paparazzi in each one of us is delighted by the ability to press a button (or screen) and miraculously engrave the moment in bites and bits – at least till the memory card is full, or the battery runs dead. For a second we have the power to capture everything forever beating the all-consuming Time!

But somehow, sometimes, technology stops being a blessing, a weapon against our own faults, and starts to become a trammel. When someone stops living, observing and feeling the moments just to take a picture; or worse, transforms the moments into picture-frenzy time; or even forget about the group and the others to focus on a screen I will say that it isn’t capturing life, it’s not living it; it’s not fighting time, it’s wasting it.

And if we lose the moments and don’t enjoy them, if we make others feel stressed, or make them constantly wait for the end of the photo session, maybe we found the real hour of the wolf.

If you read this, you might be inclined to think that I hate pictures. I don’t. In Yellowstone I took more than 100 (but maybe I am one of the ones with least pictures taken).

But I can also say that as individuals (and as a group) we must find a way to compromise.


Bruno de Sousa –Amateur photographer, somewhat experienced life-explorer


Exploring Yellowstone National Park

By Liriett Herrera Viquez, Panama

At 7: 45 as kids on their first day of class the scholars were ready to start this new adventure to the Yellowstone Park.  But Yellowstone will be our final destination before we reach there we have to drive to discover the beauties that the State of Montana has to offer us. Certainly, those amazing mountains and clouds that were guiding us as sentinel of a majestic beauty were witness of our fascinating trip.

liriett liriett1

After a couple of hours we were reaching our first destination the city of Butte. Butte was one of the largest cities in the Rocky Mountains in the late 1800s and early 1900s.   Late in the 19th century and about 1920, it was one of the largest and most notorious copper boomtowns  in the American West. We observed historic buildings that prove of the importance that this city used to have. We have perceived why Berkeley pit is consider an environmental hazard site. But also we have to recognize that this pit is one of the city’s biggest attractions.

liriett2 liriett3

After a short stop we continue our trip to our next destination the city of Bozeman. As all the cities we have seen before in Montana, Bozeman has its own western beauty with nice buildings and beautiful spots. But this city was just the stop before our last destination of the day the Chico Hot Springs Resort. As the gateway of the Yellowstone Park this hotel offers us the opportunity to enjoy the amazing surrounding views as well as their famous Hot Springs pools.

liriett4 liriett5

Of course I have to mention the preparation for the masterpiece of this trip our tour to Yellowstone Park. This preparation was in charge of Mr. Simon Buzzard an instructor and administrator of the Ecology Project International a Missoula non-profit organization. Mr. Simon gave us an overview of the wolf management in Yellowstone and other important aspects related to the introduction to the wolf in the park. Well, now we are equipped for our next exiting trip! After some different activities, we were ready to sleep dreaming with our next adventure……………..

Ω! Ξένιε Δία…… What if…..

By Efterpi Bilimpini
If we were to go back in time we would find that hospitality – offered and received – was a virtue to which people were trained. The greek word φιλοξενία is a compound word for φίλος – friend and ξένος – foreigner. There was a divine requirement for every person to receive a traveler, a messenger or stranger into his home and offer to him the best possible hospitality. Considered a form of social power, it could practically bring closer a king to a pauper. The host had to make his guest feel at home and in return the guest would show respect to him and his family.
As I was listening to my friends this morning narrating their experiences during the weekend with their host families it made me think how fulfilling it is to witness ideas like this travel through time. Accepting and offering in return comfort, care, joy and respect. Ideas such as this go beyond time, place or origin and that is what makes them so special. Whether it is a child’s dream coming true, an unexpected encounter, a new flavor acquired, a feeling shared, an enlightening moment ……….!
Later on in the day, I found the recurring idea of hospitality most relevant than ever in the sessions that followed. What if we were to approach environmental related issues bearing in mind and close to our heart the underlying values of hospitality as initially taught and appreciated, that responsibility of offering and receiving respect, a responsibility that would be translated into freedom of choice. What if we comprehended our living in our environmental encounters as a form of hospitality, where the host is abundantly offering to us and we respectfully receive, that would actually transcend the need to discuss issues of ethical protocol, would make things simple.
Last but not least, another recurring topic. That of race… What if… but this is self – evident, or at least it should be. How come our civilized societies embrace and celebrate all forms of personal choices and preferences and failed to address this one successfully.
We all have our personal and national myths, those may be stories to fall back on to explain things that cannot actually be explained or places to visit and relive past, overwhelming histories. They help us through life. But what if those myths were to be hosted by others with the respect they deserve ……..

Sab’s Post (12th June 2015)


The 12th Day of the SUSI 2015 UM started as usual with the break fast that was scheduled from 7h00 to 8h00 am at the Food Zoo. After the breakfast, participants congregated to the NAC 103 where the day’ s activities were scheduled to start from 8H15 . Mel and Pat were already and as soon as the participants got seated, Mel opened the day’ s agenda by giving a quick information on the orientation about the home stay precisely about the different time schedules for departures to the host families. After that she gave the floor to Pat who did a quick review of the agenda of the day. We still had a little time before the real start of the first session that was scheduled for 8h30 to 10h00. We just filled this gap by watching a short You Tube Video entitled ‘ Comedy Club; speak English. It was shared by Corina from Moldova.
The first session started at 8H30 prompt with the presentation of Dr Beverly Ann Chin on the strategies that Improve students’ competence and confidence. She opened her session by asking a general question on what the definition of writing was. After some reaction to this question by the participants ,she distributed some hand outs bearing the slides of her power point presentation and instructed the participants to follow her on the slides as she explains the different points of the presentation. The first slide focused on the strategies that can help students Improve their writing, and also defined the purpose for writing and the audience to which the writing is meant for. She continued by giving examples of effective writing. To make it more practical the presenter paired the participants and asked them to review some short paragraphs and then get into fours to share their work. After the presenter concluded her presentation with slides on how to assess writing and also suggested the attitude teachers should adopt when teaching writing. Participants also got another hand out dealing with writing and were also guided to a website for further readings on writing. This session ended at 10h00.
From 10H05 to 11h00 , participants listened to Mel and Deena coming back on the home stay in details. Participants took advantage in this session to wish a happy birth day to Rajendra, a colleague from Mauritius with a big Birth Day cake that was shared among us. After that ,many participants gave their impression in the week in review episode and high lighted the moment that were kind of remarkable to them in one aspect or the other. Deena also came over the follow up projects and explained in details what was actually expected from participants. She didn’t forget to remind participants of what they needed to include into the end of week evaluation of the final evaluation in order to help them better the program if need be. She also reminded to partipants the Dos and Donts during the weekend home stay in American families. After 11h00 , all the participants were invited to join in a lunched with the ELI teachers at the university center from 11h30 . Participants knowing their different time schedules with their host families immediately came back to Pantzer Hall to get ready and wait for their host family to come and pick them in that afternoon. This is the movie of the Day 12 of the SUSI 2015 UM.
Please, I will add some pictures when they are ready. Thank you.


DSC01670.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01640.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01680.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01689.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01677.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01609.jpgGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01742.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01754.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01788.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01835.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01743.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo
DSC01840.JPGGrazzia Mendoza compartido desde Dropbox
Ver en www.dropbox.com Vista previa por Yahoo

Life can be seen through different lenses framing specific moments. There are moments which stop you on your tracks, there are others which fill you with uncertainty and there are many which simply take your breath away. Most of these moments can be “simple”, many can take you through complex, intertwined journeys, others are undecipherable; yet they all lead to reflection. It is precisely some of those meaningful, joyful moments that fill your heart and inadvertently steal a tear, a gasp or a sigh; this is what I experienced in Missoula on the weekend of June 13.

It all started with the usual “Hello, how are you?” “Are you ready?” ” I have many adventures planned for you!” Expectation, curiosity and a bit of anxiety were some of the feelings experienced, especially since this was the first time for me with a host family. Little by little anxiety dissolved and a sense of comfort appeared as we arrived at my host family’s home, let’s be clear, a home and not a house. I was shown my beautifully organized bedroom, the place where I would learn so much.

I will definitely not bore you with all the details and all the wonderful conversations had, as this is a treasure for my heart only; however there are specific learnings I need to share. First, the joys of learning about what happens during the weekend of a US family be it at a skating ring watching families have fun, at a pizza place waiting in line to be seated, during a home cooked meal watching it appear from scratch, at the market talking to different people, at a barbecue understanding social culture, at a community garden tending to plants and understanding the marvels a teacher does for her students, doodling on a piece of paper, on a road trip absorbing the views, camping for the first time at Glacier park, at Long Pass observing the majestic mountains with mountain goats and ground squirrels, the lake, the creek and the snow. Second, the learnings on how diverse people in the United States are and how it is embraced unconsciously, subtly even when history might state it differently. Third, the value of mutual understanding and visualizing similarities and differences among two cultures and concluding that it is not about a country, it is not about the people who live in that country; it is about humanity and how we strive every day to understand the role we need to play to achieve higher goals for everybody.

This has been a weekend of privilege and I feel humbled to see how much family values are appreciated in this country and how all families go to any extent to have important moments together but in addition to make a foreigner feel comfortable and at home. How protection of their resources plays a role in the enjoyment as they work together to maintain spaces that grant comfort and entertainment. I have seen this once more as an example of what we should also value at home, not only our families, but our countries.

After this let’s all feel encouraged to learn and transfer this experience to our homes, our jobs, our countries. Let us be humbled by the amazing views and destinations but above all by the wonderful people we have met this weekend. Let us create a new beginning for those around us and be ambassadors not only of our countries, but also of a new age of caring and compassion for all humanity no matter the country, no matter the race, no matter the culture; let’s embrace our differences and become strong together in our similarities.

Thank you for a great weekend Kim, Lucia and Sloane!

Grazzia Maria Mendoza Chirinos

Sunday 14 June 2015 – Our Homestay Experience

Our homestay – June 12-14 2015

It is not always an easy thing to go to a stranger’s place and stay there for a couple of days, especially when you barely know that person. It must be even harder for the host, who knows only bare facts about his new guests and somehow has to make them feel at home. I feel that this is when the real contact with the host culture begins, when we step out of the relative shelter of the student accommodation in which most of our days in Montana have been spent, to venture forth, literally as it were, into the unknown. The secure comfort zone we usually find in our multiple alien-ness as twenty strangers in a strange land is no longer there: there’s just you, your SUSI colleague and your host family. As interaction starts to take place, some glimmers of understanding of each other begin to develop, which one hopes would eventually lead to more authentic and sincere experiences of each other’s cultures.

As the day ends, I look back upon the (so brief!) time that I and my friend Kanisius have spent with our host family, only to shake my head in wonder at the way we can just enter someone’s life and be part of it when we did not know each other before. This is a relatively new experience for me: coming from a culture where people are often introduced to you in terms of links and relationships with people you already know, going into a stranger’s house can be quite daunting. I guess this is also something that varies across cultures and personalities. However, both Kanisius and I were really excited about this novel experience, even though we did not really know what to expect, as we had only met one of our hosts briefly before.

Micah, our main host, came to fetch us at Pantzer Hall at 1700. Since he did not live far, we walked with him to his house, which he shares with roommates Scott, Colin, Kate and Danny. Oh, and Pierre the cat and Tyson the dog! This was already an interesting household, as it would not be a family as such but a group of friends living together. Micah invited us to one of his friend’s potluck dinner at the park, where various friends met together and brought a dish or dessert to share. That was a relaxing moment, where we sat in the grass and enjoyed our meals while talking to new people. We ended up having an informal but intense football (soccer) match that had me breathless but feeling really alive. Somehow, this simple game was enough to break down my inherent reserve and shyness and to “suspend” my foreign identity.

Back to Micah’s home, we were introduced to the other members of the household, who heartily welcomed us. It was interesting to note over the two days how these young people, who were all different in one way or the other and who had distinct personalities and interests, could cohabit peaceably and make the household a real family. Chatting to some of the members of the household led to some of them playing on their music instruments and this impromptu session was really enjoyable.

The next day, Micah took us to the Farmer’s Market as he had decided to invite some friends for an “International” potluck dinner at his place, mostly to welcome us to his house. Kanisius and I also offered to help out, and after having a hearty breakfast of tamales in the market, we also bought some vegetables and greens to use in the evening. Micah also told us about a small plot of land he had obtained from the town community garden and it was interesting to note how he and some of his friends maintained their plots assiduously. We decided at that point that we would go there later on in the day to have a look.

Together with Micah, Kanisius and I went to the Rattlesnake Recreation Area, where we hiked for about two hours. The scenery was breathtaking and we really enjoyed the quiet atmosphere in the woods.

Following that, we went to his plot of land where we assisted Micah with planting and watering some of the plants he had brought with him. That too was an enriching experience as I like gardening as well, and it brought back some good memories of my own family yard where we grow a number of plants and vegetables. What are a couple of dirty hands compared to the satisfaction of setting a plant or seedling into the earth and watching it grow day by day?

Given that we had some time left, Micah proposed to take us to visit the Temple of a Thousand Buddhas. As with the hiking, I was struck by the many interests of our host. He was not trying to go out of his way to provide extraordinary experiences, but was rather sharing some of his own interests with us. He had at some point volunteered to help out in the making of the Buddhas and so had a personal connection with the place he was taking us to visit. The trip out of town also provided interesting insights into the uniqueness of Missoula compared to other localities. The temple itself was amazing, and we sat in serene contemplation as the gentle breeze fluttered the prayer flags. It was eerie to see a Buddhist shrine in the midst of the mountains of Montana, yet it seemed to fit with the atmosphere.

We returned home and started helping out in the making of the potluck dinner. Everyone in the house had decided to contribute something, from Kate’s freshly caught fish to Colin’s Paella to our salad, which we prepared with beetroot, carrots and spring onions. We appreciated that we were not treated as exceptional guests but rather as members of the household. We participated in the washing up, cutting and preparation of the vegetables and other food items, all the while chatting with our new friends. When the other guests arrived, with their own food, we sat down together and ate and talked.

We were invited to comment and share upon various aspects pertaining to our native cultures, such as geographical location, climate, language, food and so on, which we readily did. One of the hosts, Colin, spoke Portuguese, and he often would use it to talk to Kanisius. Once again, we appreciated being in such relaxed and accepting company.

The next day we woke up to a great breakfast prepared by Micah. The prevailing mood was relaxed and laid-back, so we sat and chatted. I took up a book and read in the yard, trying to soak up the morning sun. Later on, we were treated to an interesting lunch and enjoyed tasting food items and vegetables that we had not tasted before. This was followed by some informal discussion on politics with some of our new friends. I was very much impressed by the depth of knowledge of our friends. Interestingly, many of the aspects they touched upon, especially ecology, not only addressed issues that they were personally interested in but also were, in some way, linked to the topics that we had been exposed to during the last two weeks. It thus allowed me to discuss a bit more in depth with our friends and to get their view (as Missoulans) of the legal system and local and state government.

The day would have ended quietly but when Micah told us he was going to do some more gardening in the afternoon, I and Kanisius proposed to accompany him and help out. Once again, we had a great time in the community garden and felt pleased that we were able to give a hand, even if it has been for just an hour or two.

It is always awkward and difficult to say good bye, especially to people you have been closely associated with for some time. There was an emotional moment when Kanisius presented some of the native scarves, which had been woven by his mother, to our hosts. I, for my part, wanted them to have an idea of what my country looked like, and left them some postcards and keyrings. We finally said our goodbyes and returned to Pantzer, with mixed feelings. We have, during our homestay, been fascinated by the maturity and independence of our hosts, their various interests, their ability to discuss seriously at one moment, and then to joke around together, the next moment. Their sense of camaraderie and cooperation, despite being from different parts of America, is exemplary and showed us that you do not always have to remain in your comfort zone but rather should seek new experiences and be confident to meet and talk to new people. This homestay also, very importantly, allowed me to get to know Kanisius, my SUSI colleague, more closely, as we had not been much in contact before. All in all, one can only express gratitude, tinged with wonder, at being received in such a gracious way and we can only but thank our hosts (and our SUSI organizers) for making this weekend an unforgettable slice of life.

A Fruitful Day

By Trang Tran

The lecturers of English in my school usually remind their students of Mark Twain’s famous saying “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read” in their teaching as a way to encourage them to read and improve their reading skills; yet, their interests in books, especially in literature subject, are extremely low. For them, reading novels, poetries, stories bring no enjoyment compared to the time they click “like” and wait for “comments” on Face book. Several questions have been raised such as whether their vocabulary range is limited, or they have difficulty in communicating thoughts, or they experience failures in reading materials above their levels, or their teachers have not taught them how to read and how to enjoy from what they perceive. Whatever the reasons might be, we teachers play a key role in assisting them to become good readers. That is why I enjoyed this morning session with Dr. Chin about “Reading strategies that improve Students’ Critical and Creative Thinking”.

Dr. Chin shared seven useful reading comprehension strategies about asking questions (using KWL), making connections (from text to self, text to other texts, text to the world), visualizing (with the inclusion of senses evoked by the author), making inferences, understanding vocabulary, determining importance and summarizing. I believe that the scholars are very much into these practical strategies and they will surely apply in their own teaching contexts. More importantly, what if we put all these strategies together and help students recognize their desire to read? Then I would like to share the “Literature Circles” I observed at Lewis and Clark Elementary School. In this “project”, students work in groups of six and are assigned to read the same number of pages from a book each week; each of them has a role to fulfill: one is a discussion director who has to provide a brief summary of the reading and discuss the main characters of the book, one is a literary luminary who has to read some powerful or interesting passages, one is a connector who has to make at least three connections, one is a visualize who has to illustrate part of the story, one is a word wizard who help others understand word meanings, and one is a fortune teller who has to think of questions arisen from the reading. Students do this in six weeks and exchange the role every week to complete reading the whole book. I think what I observed is totally linked with what Dr. Chin talked about today. What I like even more is I see the underlying theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner in this project, which is so important in students’ learning. Actually, I have spread this project to the teachers in my place and they like it a lot.

For the second half of the morning sessions and in the afternoon, we learned about the U.S Legal System, which is complicated on one hand, but unique on the other hand shown through how well the United States Government has operated this country for years, and the Role of the Local Government. It was a good chance for me to compare with the Legal system in Vietnam and spot out the differences between the two.

Today is very special for all of us (I guess J) as we were at Missoula City Council Chambers and talked with the mayors. What else could I expect more? J