A Day On The Blackfeet Indian Reservation (July18)- May

This morning is quite different from other day. It’s much colder because now we are at Blackfeet Tipi Village (Browning, MT) which is a traditional house of a Native American. After I tried very hard to get out of my sleeping bag and put it into the bag. I open my tipi door and take a long breath of fresh air, look up to the sky, smile to the story that happen last night.

It’s might because of the cold weather outside. All SUSI’s students gathered at the fire camp, the warmest place around this Tipi Village. We sat around the fire and have a long conversation. The personal stories were told by person to person. Our relationships became closer. It seem like we know each other for long time.

After breakfast, it is time to depart Tipi camp and drive to the North fork of the Blackfoot river. At that place we met Mr. Don Bischoff, the hydrologist from US Geological Survey. His work is to measuring the steam flow in the river because of the water negotiation between State government and tribes. He taught us how to measure the steam flow in the simplest way. We were separate in a group of four people by country. Two people will go in to the river. One stands at the up steam and other stands at the downstream. The other two people will stand on the bank for timing and record.

The keywords of this method are a tennis ball and time. After signal, We started timer and the person at the upstream put the tennis ball in to the river then stop timer at the same time as person who was at downstream caught the ball and raise hand up. It was fun and the water is cold even we got the long plastic boots. After experimental, it is the time for calculation. The surface area of the river that we measure will be divided by average time then we will get water in the river flow rate in term of cubic feet per second. Although, that is the easy and cheap method, no one use it because high percentage error. Mr. Don showed us some of technical equipments that were uses. They are more comfortable, use less time and high efficient. From this little field work, I found that the scientific and technical information were necessary for environmental and conservation issue.

After lunch, we moved to another place to meet Mr. Gary Burnett, the director from The Blackfoot Challenge which is the nonprofit organization that working with community. This project brings together farmer, rancher, conservationist and government to address issues related to fire management, forest restoration, water quality, fish habitat, weed management, education, and economic development. There are a lot of project that The Blackfoot Challenge have done by the community. This project has changed my mind about doing project with community. I have ever thought that it is impossible to go to community and ask them to do something for environment but here is the model which has been success on working community-based conservation. That because they trust each other and believed in communication value.

Finally, We arrived at Miller Hall. Today is one of hard working day. But I think we got the point from these activities. Scientific, Technical and Community value were support each other. If I want to solve issue in community, I and people in community should bring value together to find out the best solution which can change something in community to be better.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller


July 17th – Y

Snow? It’s in my hands…

We are all from another hemisphere of the Earth, which is in the tropical zone with high temperature and humidity year-round, often with the sense of lush vegetation. We had traveled more than one thousand miles to be here, Montana State, the US, for a great summer ever. “Snow in the summer”, it’s an idiom that means “impossibility” in our language. However, “nothing impossible”, and this phrase turns out to be more appropriate in this case.

Departing Kalispell at 9:30, it took us about one hour to reach Glacier National Park. On the way get there, we had chance to see such a high sky and the wide sea are an immense blue of the countryside.

Montana is well- known for its wildlife and scenery, places like Glacier stand out as examples of just how impressive nature can be. I suppose the existence of national parks is a gift to all of us—a chance to be awed for ourselves. And in a world where we are increasingly surrounded by entertainment, there is still nothing quite like a trip to one of these amazing places such as Glacier National Park. I still remember the feeling at the first time touching snow, standing and slipping there. 😀 We all had a “snow war” and played with snow right in a hot summer, which is a totally a brand new experience for us.

When we visited the Glacier National Park, Dr. Broberg also helped us to learn more about the cultural and ecological diversity there. Glacier’s one million acres of turquoise alpine lakes, mountain goats and grizzly bears, craggy peaks and we were so lucky to see them during our trip. Thanks to the visit, we know that the ecosystem there is very fragile. Therefore, it is essential to be careful in every step. Leave the place intact!

Unfortunately, some of us did not have a good preparation for the trip (me, for example). I forgot to bring to bottle of water and we all ran out of water sooner than expected. That was the reason why we had to come back soon to go to the Blackfeet Tipi Village. It was raining at that time and I already felt missing this beautiful place somehow.

I believe we all took a nap on the way go to the Blackfeet Tipi Village, didn’t we? (except Mel, Dr. Broberg, and Randall, for sure) =))

Our tipi camp arbor is a wooden wind shelter built in the form of a traditional Blackfeet ceremonial lodge. Decorated in Blackfeet style, the facilities take part in providing us with an experience full of Native American culture.

At night, we gathered near the fire, told story, and felt the warmth from each other. We talked about our embarrassing moment, shared our thought and feelings. I believe we could have a better understanding about not only the individual but also the values of our culture.

We touched snow in the summer, we experienced a Native American night!

Just can say: 17th July, awesome!

July 16th-Aling

Today is the 16th of July 2013 which is second day for all SUSI fellows in Kalispell as well as the second day of the third week since we have been in Montana, the U.S.

Due to the fact that yesterday was a busy day for lecturing and preparing stuffs before departing from Missoula to Kalispell so I felt a little tired when we arrived in the hotel last night. However, as it is our first arrive in this city, I was very excited to go out and discover the town even at the night time with my SUSI friends. As I went back to the hotel quite late, I went to bed in midnight, therefore, it was the cause that I could not get up as early as the time that my alarm clock has been set.

The weather today seems to be cooler than in Missoula especially in the morning, nevertheless, the sky is as beautiful as in Missoula, clear and blue just like the ocean. The big white clouds are like cotton flying freely in the blue sky. I think I am falling in love with Montana’s sky. When I opened my eyes it was 6.30 in the morning. One thing that I then realized is that I could not hear the sound of birds which I have always heard in every morning in Missoula, or that would be because no window was opened? Anyway, after I got up I tried to finish doing all stuffs and went to have breakfast with my roommates Kj and Jennifer in a hurry since we were afraid of being late for the meeting. At 7.50am everybody was at our meeting point, hotel’s lobby and all of us were ready to depart to Libby, a uniquely located town in northwestern Montana.

It was my first time to be Dr. Len’s passenger. It should be so much fun talking with him on the way to Libby but most of the people on the car ended up with sleeping. It took around 2 hours to arrive in Libby. We were late behind the schedule due to the fact that the road to Libby is under construction so there was traffic problem, cars could not move so fast. At 10.00am, we were all at Lincoln County Campus, a place for today’s lectures. Just after our arrival, the first lecture of the day has then started by Mr. Nick Raines, Asbestos Resource Program Manager. During the class time he gave us many useful information about Vermiculite and Asbestos in a connection with Libby and its population which are include the introduction of both vermiculite and asbestos, how it has been discovered, what can people use vermiculite for, what are asbestos related diseases, what are the organizations or departments that are involved in dealing with the problems cause by vermiculite mining, etc. I have learnt from the lecture that vermiculite and asbestos cause a huge problem for Libby not only the environmental aspect but also on health issue. Mine Company, W.R. Grace released fibers in the air in their mine site and as fibers are light it could stay for so long in the air and then spread out. So when people breathe in fiber they are at risk of lung cancer. Therefore, as more fibers have been released more people were affected so it needed for help to be reached to residents in Libby especially in cleaning up people’s property after the mine corrupted in 1990 which EPA is the main agency for cleanup. Furthermore, Asbestos Resource Program also plays an important role in educating people even kids in kindergarten to student in all grades in the school, providing resources to people in the community to reduce the risk of exposure to asbestos as well as focus on Local Health Initiatives.

After the lecture it was time for lunch. Actually, base on the schedule we have to go to Libby Café for lunch but due to some reasons we all have to gather at yard next to the Lincoln County Campus building just to wait for Mel and Randle to go pick the food for us. As most SUSI-ers are the ones who could never live without taking photo especially when they have space time like this, hence, it was the right time for them to spend their time efficiently in taking group photo and act like crazy. We created many posts particularly the jumping post which all people jump up together at the same time and the photographer have to be quick and accurate in calculating the perfect time to shut the camera button in order to have the picture that all people are jumping in the air. It was so much fun especially when we jumped in the middle of the road and people in the cars that passed by stared at us curiously of what we were doing. When Mel and Randle came back with chicken and chips, everything stopped. We enjoyed our lunch and talked together before the time for the next session comes.

Around 13.00 the second lecture about U.S. Environment Protection Agency or EPA by Mr. Mike Cirian, the Remedial Project Manager and another person who I cannot remember her name has began in the same place and same room as the first lecture. A lot of information has been given to us during the 2 and a half hour of time. As I have learnt in the morning that EPA is the main agency that runs the cleanup of asbestos for Libby people’s property. As a result, many details given by Mr. Mike who works closely with the issue are clear and specific. According to his lecture, 4400 property were looked by EPA in the past few years. Among the number above, 1700 of them needed cleanup while 700 of them rejected to be looked at. Beside, he explained the way how to clean up the asbestos in the property and the rules of removal. Eventhough, I was a little confused at some points but it was very interesting honestly. Moreover, the research around mining area has also been addressed, many interesting issues have been raised and that could grab the attention from a number of people in the class which also made me not to feel sleepy in the lecture time.

At 16.00, the third and last lecture of the day came. Ms. Tanis Hernandes, Administrative Director and Ms. Tracy McNew, Clinical and Research Managern were invited to give us knowledge on the health impacts of the Libby asbestos exposure. In this lesson, brief and quick information has been passed through power point and speakers. In the period of one hour time, I gained various more knowledge about the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases( CARD) which are included CARD’s mission in providing long-term screening, health monitoring, disease diagnose, etc. as well as Libby Amphibole research, toxic value for Libby Amphibole, and a lot more information concerning to asbestos related diseases. After the final lecture, we all headed back to Kalispell and spend our night freely in the town after a long day of lecturing. And it comes to the end of SUSI-ers journey for today, Tuesday 16th July 2013.

* Although today is a day that is full of lectures. Anyhow, in my opinion all lessons were very interesting and beneficial for all SUSI folks in having greater understanding about U.S. environmental issues in different aspect as what we have obtained from the past two weeks in the U.S.

July 15th- Zin Maung Maung

Education needs time – “The more we study the more we discover our ignorance.”

We all are also the product of our education and experience. We are young, intelligent and curious about the world beyond our own country. We have interests and ambition. We are comfortable with newness and change. We want to learn and grow. We are someone who wants to discover who we are and who we can become.

Fortunately, I got the opportunity from United States Department of State. SUSI program is designed for 20 undergraduates from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is a great chance for me to explore the role that environmental policy has played in the economic and political development of the United States. We also have the opportunity to meet with local, state, private, and nonprofit organizations working in the field. I honestly say that I don’t have experiences in environmental issues. Now I learn and gain about environmental issues. Everything is new for me and first experiences. I love to learn environmental issues that give me too many knowledge and education.

Today we started our class at 9:00 am and finished at 5:00pm. I honestly say that today is hard day for everybody. We were tried and sleepy but we have learned a lot and gain too many information. We have learned ‘Natural Resources Conflict Resolution’, ‘What is conflict?’, ‘Alternative Approaches to Prevent and Resolve Conflict’, ‘Benefits of Need for Collaboration’, ‘Collaborative Approaches to Natural Resources Policy’, ‘Place of Negotiation and Facilitation in Collaboration’, ‘Negotiating and Implementing a Water Rights Compact’ and ‘Asbestos Contamination in Libby’. Among them, my favorite topic is ‘What is Conflict?’

In this topic, Speaker started with game ‘Win As Much As You Can’. Game is so simple to play. The objective of game is to explore the merits of cooperation and competition. We enjoyed the game very much and have fun. Conflict is a struggle between opponents over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources. Structural Factors, Negative Relationships, Clash in Interests, Competing Value and Problems with Data cause conflict. In organization, there is a lot of conflict.

Disadvantages of having conflict in organization is that people suffer from loss of appetite and sleep and also from general weakness and exhaustion brought about by stress and strain. People give up and resign from job and so many examples in real life. Instead of having conflict and arguing each other, we do need cooperation and negotiation. I do want to share ’10 Key Elements for Success’_ 1. Purpose driven

2. Inclusive

3. Informed

4. Deliberative

5. Consensus seeking

6. Accountability

7. Supplemental

8. Implementation

9. Adaptive management

10. Process managers.

At 5:00 pm we departed for Kalispell. On the way to Kalispell, we stopped for dinner at Hot Spot Thai Café in Polson, Montana by the shores of Flathead Lake. We took photos and enjoyed our dinner. Kalispell is beautiful and peaceful city. We saw the beauty of mountain and Flathead Lake. Finally we arrived at Red Lion Hotel Kalispell.

In my point of view, we live and learn in our host culture. Our experience will translate into tangible benefits later in life. Besides, we can experience another culture. Learn inside and outside classroom. Experience academic system of another culture/country, we will become well-rounded students. As a result, we will think more deeply, will discover the joys of life-long learning, will become an educated person who can entertain ideas that we do not accept, will integrate our traditional values with values that are essential in modern way of life, will embrace social responsibility and will become a valued member of community of people doing worthwhile things. Shall we create peaceful and beautiful world with our good inspiration.

Zin Maung Maung

Myanmar (Burma)

July 14th- Xmen


The day July 14th marks a milestone in my journey: my first day discovering the most wonderful country in the world-The United State by myself!

Part 1: An awesome self-guided Montana tour!

For me, travel is discovering and Iike discovering myself the most. Therefore, since I come to Monata, I have allways looked forward to a freeday so that I can travel and discover the State on my own. That day eventually comes- the 14th of July.
I already set up a specific pIan for that day long before. According to that, I will go getting around the State and shopping a little bit. To prepare, since July 10th, I have been spending a lot of time searching for some remarkable points in Montana to visit. Bestbuy, Target, Good Will Secondhand Store,… are our priority goals.
The new day starts with little sunshine which signs a beautiful day ahead. I wake up quite later than usually,at about half past eight because I hit the sack very late last night to finish my preparation for our trip. My Laos friends named Somlith also wants to join me and we decide to go together. We start going at half past nine. We agree to go to Goodwill first and then stop by Bestbuy and Target also.

Full of excited and energetic to discover, we ride bicycle very fast and sometimes stop to review the map we bring with us. We quickly come to the address Good Will but someone say it moves to another place which is very far from the old place. Then we decied to go to Bestbuy and Target instead because they are nearer. The way to Bestbuy and Target is not difficult but we still can not locate us sometimes on the map. So we have to ask some people and they show us the the places and I also remember very much his sentence” do not believe the map so much” . I then know that the streets are now upgraded and “ updated “day by day so the map quicky becomes ”out of date”. We eventually reach Target and Bestbuy(they are very close to each other). We spend about 10 minutes to take some pictures in front of these two places. Target is actually one of the best places in Montana for shopping. It is very big and has almost everything you need for life. I and Somlith get around Target for 30 minutes but just only buy two chocolates because we almost just “ sightseeing” it. Then we head over to Bestbuy-the place I have been looking to reach to buy a new camera for me. We stayed there for an hour. I buy a new camera which cost me 89 dollars – the camara that I like best ever. I am so happy to sue it now. Somlith also buys a memory card for his camera. On the way home we accumulate experience- see letter M, not map any more hihi! We get home easily after nearly 1 hour biking.

Part 2: Vietnamese food and an “horror story”!

The second discovery of the day is the dinner at The Tuyens’ house. Tuyen is a Vietnamese but living here for nearly 40 years. His wife is SuSu Pham and they now living with their children_ Tri and his family-Tri’s wife and two little kids. We have a very nice dinner there with the whole family. I am so excited and happy because I have chance to eat Vietnamese food again. The food is perfect and I eat a lot. After dinner, Tuyen tell us about his difficult journey The US here. In his story I sometimes get scred a lot because he many times has to face of death because of trying to across the border. His story is also very sad with a lot of scary facts but I am eager to hear it. Then, before we go home,we also take some pictures with Tuyen’s family.

July 13- Andrew

Today is Saturday and we had free time all this morning until 13:15. So I would like to start from last night. Last night, I planned a lot for today. Morning I would go to Marathon and have breakfast at the downtown and enjoy the show. At the afternoon I would meet with my groups and have fun with them along the River Rafting. They are my thoughts before I go to bed. I went to bed round of 2 o’clock and set alerm at 7 in the morning.

Things change. I woke up late at 10 o’clock in the morning and I said” Oh-My God, I am late”. Then I looked around and find someone to have breakfast with me because my oversleeping destroyed my entire plan. So I needed to draw another one.  Fortunately, I found my friends from my country and Cambodia and I ask them “why aren’t you guys going to Marathon?” They gave me the same answer, “We woke up late, too”.  I smiled at them and had breakfast together with them. We waited till noon to pick up for River Rafting with full of excitement. Finally, time came to go water rafting.  We went there with bus and felt and enjoyed the pleasant views of Montana. We had extra student from university of Montana. They are very nice and shared their college life-style in here. I got a useful time on bus too.

At there, the air is fresh, the wind is cool, the water is cold, and the sun is shine. I said “what a perfect day of my life”. When I reached on the boat, I started feeling excited like sitting in the exam hall. We were leaded by Lewis and Clark Adventures.  The Rafting trip took us down the scenic Blackfoot River for twelve miles. Along the trip, I had full of coldness, excitement, scariness but they are recovered by happiness, good experiences, and term-work with my group. At the end I said” It is awesome” which is my daily sentence for me. Not only me but also some of my friends told me that is the best activity that we ever had.

On the way back to university, all my friends were sleeping (including me) because of tiredness. When we arrived to campus, I shouted” Home sweet home” then everybody say thank you and good bye to University student and others. Early this night, I just planned to go cinema. But it was too late now and tried to take a sleep after finishing my today daily paper. My words for today activity are awesome and nothing can compare this feeling for me. Image

July 11th – Jane

Last night I enjoyed my dinner and ice-cream with Thai-Laos gang and walked through the street passed by beautiful building around myself in town. I feel really appreciate with classic view of Helena. Today is an alternative energy day! I wake up about 7.30 a.m. and take a shower. After that, I go to have breakfast in the restaurant of hotel with Dr. Len Broberg, Mei, Aling, May, X-men, Andrew and Zin. At 9 o’clock, we start this morning on lecturing about Balancing Environmental and Energy Needs at Holiday Inn, Helena which is the capitol city of Montana. The topic is discussed by Mr. Kerry berg and representative of The Northwest Power and Conservation Council. This Pacific Northwest Electric Power locates in Columbia River Basin, cover the area of some part of Canada and 4 states in U.S.; Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington. Therefore, they have significant benefits through coordinated river management. On the 5th December 1980, The Northwest Power Act was signed by governors of 4 states in U.S. and it gave council 3 core responsibilities that are Electric Power Provision, Fish and Wildlife provisions and Subbasin Planing. This act also requires the Council to develop and plan the next 20 years to show that the electric power plant has more resources enough to operate energy with cost-effectively. It must to provide reservation to balance bull trout in the upstream and protect salmon habitat to increase their population in the downstream when it turn to be spring and summer season. Moreover, to implement this project need to educate and highly public all of stakeholders by using website, sending e-mail, paper information and meeting group every month.

In my thought, even hydro system is clean source energy that benefits to produce the electric for residential instrument for instance; microwave, heater and air conditioner, it also causes impact to climate change and ecosystem. However, this energy is effect to those less than another resource especially coal and natural gas. It is a useful case study of U.S.-Canada cooperation to compare with our Southeast Asia, maekhong river issue.

Lecture in the Elkhorn Room B at Holiday Inn Hotel, Helena

We leave from Helena to Butte and have lunch at Pepperoni pizza buffet. I enjoy eating fresh pizza homemade and plenty of vegetable in salad for 1 hour. After I take a seat on Mel’s car, she points the huge orange mountain far away that it is the place which used to be mining. It makes me so surprised and feel can’t wait to see what it’s going to be right now. When I arrives the Berkeley pit and lay my leg down on the ground, I look forward to see this big mining and realize that this area is hard to restoration and very difficult to become life again. It’s so sad to confront with this contamination and environmental problem. Because of the high quality and quantity of mining, especially high grade of 60% Cu, Zn, Mn, Pb, Mo, Ag and Au. The Berkery pit started to be large mining by British Petroleum since 1880. There are mine-shafts and cable to work up and down in the pit about 2,000-3,000 feet. The Copper mines were pumped and dehydrated to the surface until the pump station was shut down in 1982. It causes that the underground water system has been flooding and because of the soil in this area include pyrites (FeS2) which is the compound of Sulfur elements that have bad smell. Therefore, when
the water is rising up, the pyrites have oxidation with water and turn to be Sulfuric acid (H2S), the metals toxic dissolve and pH decrease to 2.5-3 (strong acid). Mr. Darryl reed says that they try to solve this problem by treat water before rising and run down to contaminate the creek where is the source of ground water contamination and the place of aquatic livings. The best way to do, but has expensive cost is to inject lime in the hole that’s about 1,000 feet below and it will increase pH.
Now, the student in the University of Montana is doing the research about Biodegradation by tolerance species of algae, fungus and bacteria to recover this problem.

Although this mountain can’t recover as soon as people hope to be, but I think it is the very good place to remind that we must to think about the effect of natural resource before we have already over use it. I realize that the worst of environmental degradation is not the exhaustion, but it is the decadence which is caused by utilization that never been end up.

Have lunch with Pizza and Salad at Butte

Thailand SUSI 2013 with Mr. Darryl Reed at the Berkeley pit

After we spend so long time in Berkeley pit, we continue move forward to Butte Basin Creek Natural Gas Fired Plant where is the first power plant and produce maximum electric energy in Montana since July 2006. It’s very excited for me to see that how this plant system is going on, because natural gas from Thai guff is the most natural resources that we use to produce the electricity. We must to wear couple ear plugs for protecting the loud noise of machine and then, we keep follow the speaker. There are 9 engines in this plant to generates electric power 54 Mw and the net is 51.8 Mw. They fill 11,000,000 cubic natural gases per day from Canada. The process starts by taking natural gas into the gas house and feed them pass through pipes in to the engines.
After that, the pistons that grease the oil work and produce heat air into generators which have Cu wires and turn electromagnetic energy that make current electricity to people houses. To maintain the engines, they need large cooling fans to blow the air to electric generation. The system of this plant controls automatically by using specific computer program such as to balance the glycol, new oil and used oil tank and the operator that show real time date of temperature, ignition time and burn time on the screen. After he finishes explain system, I ask him that “what is the most alternative energy that Montana uses to make electricity?” Answer is the coal (2,700 Mw), wind (500-700 Mw), hydro (450 Mw) and natural gas (200 Mw), respectively.

SUSI 2013 participants with speaker at Butte Basin Creek Natural Gas Fired Plant

This is the end of our program today. We’re so tired and take a nap in the car during come back to Missoula. However, We (Thai and Laos gang) ride a bicycle to have dinner at the river wok Asian grill restaurant where is a chef comes from Hongkong. It’s so spicy, delicious and make us miss Thai-Laos food. We enjoy and relax with this left time today before arrive Miller Hall.

Riding a bicycle to have dinner with friends

Infront of River Wok Asian Grill Restaurant

Pineapple fried rice

July 10th – Rina

It is in the early morning in a greenish state, the sun is shining while I am shivering with the air. Coming from Asian region, I find the weather in Montana in the morning is freezing cold. Today I am leaving Missoula to Helena, the state capitol of Montana. Nearly two hours on a car with friends from Myanmar, I feel so much enjoyable with view of the green sea of pine tree on mountain ranges along sides of the road. From the cars window, I can spot a few houses built far a way from each other and some of them have their own animal farms. As the time flies, I really have fun time with my friends in the car. For example, we talk joke, chit-chat and listen to country music. Almost two hours after leaving Missoula in early morning, we finally get to Helena, where I learned a lot of things about environmental policy, politics in the state, Montana museum and culture shock.

Just arriving at the front of The Montana History Museum, I am jaw-dropped with a four-meter long black head bone of a cow, lying on the left side of the building. It was perfectly artistically crafted. The museum stores fantastic picture of ancient people like Native American so-called Red Indian, and a large number of ancient stuffs such as train, long-range gun, tribe clothes, stone, throne and so on. Besides these, there is a hidden story within this natural-resource-rich state. In history, many infrastructure and businesses in Montana were partly built but Chinese immigrant who came to America for jobs. It was unbelievable but true that Chinese population was considered as the largest immigrant in Montana. However, not so many Chinese are present like in the past. According to archeology research and artifact discovered in the site, it said that the decrease of Chinese group was due to its sex. Most Chinese worker was men, so some of them might die or came back to China. During their settlement, they built railroads, did mining and opened business. It is important to notice that the picture in the State Capitol displaying an inauguration of the railroad showed no presence of Chinese workers. The possible reason behind this is that the state at that time did not recognize the Chinese people or maybe Asian people. After learning the history of Montana, we moved to another session of non-governmental organizations in policy formulation.

The sculpture of Cow’s head bone in Montana History Museum. Credit to Chin Sopheaktra

An hour and a half of this session make learn a lot about how the local NGOs advocate environmental protection. During the lecture, I learn that the Montana Environmental Information Centre (MEIC) has spend a great effort gain vote from legislature and educate people with environmental information through media such as Radio, TV, and Newspaper. When asked about the struggling in lobbying the legislature, the MEIC seems to show less support from the legislature though it has gathered a number of organizations. According to the department of environmental equality, MEIC and the department worked cooperatively to solve environmental issue in Montana where fossil fuel, water pollution, air pollution are among the top list of environmental problems under the legal term but sometimes if they cannot reach consensus, they will sue each others. I find this as a great democratic process in which people have the rights to get justice from the court. Sadly, when I asked MEIC how it measures its influence on public through media, it seems like MEIC does not do a survey to see the effectiveness of its message. From my opinion, I find this as a loophole and it needs to make use of media effectively. Moving on from this lecture, I continue another meeting with Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) where I find the department seems so reluctant when it comes to the state economy and environment.

Credit to Som Rina

If a company makes a large investment of coal mining in your area, which will enrich your state living standard but in reverse will affect on environment, how would you solve? this is a question I asked the department. It takes a while before the department response that as long as water quality or air quality reach standard, it is fine. Even though, the department said that the regulation may change if the investors influent the legislature and it will only comply to what is in the law. Since I arrived Montana, environmental issues are the main subject and the concerns among people in the area. Glacier Park, the snow mountain is melting drastically annually due to climate change. Wildfire has strongly contributed to the lost of wildlife habitat and air pollution. The mining in Butte has contaminated the water quality in the area and Clark Fork River. These problems seem to be out of the list in Politicians priority.

The Capitol Building in Helena. Credit to Som Rina

John Walsh, the Lieutenant Governor of Montana state capitol, discuss the two main problems which he thinks are the urgent problem and need strong investment, namely unemployment and education. He wants to reduce the unemployment rate by attracting investment of the state natural resource. Also, he believes that by adding specialist training and reducing school tuition will bring the graduation rate higher than previous record. However, from environmental point of view, I think environmental problem should be among the main priorities. Conserving needs low cost but fixing the damage by the environmental impact may spend tremendous of fund and time. When asked how much budget spent on environmental protection, the lieutenant said only a small amount of money flow into this area. For reflection, I think the state seem not to care much in tackling the environmental problems. As the meeting with the lieutenant ended, it is time to explore the city where I experience frightening culture shock.

After leaving a local restaurant, my friends and I are walking on the sidewalk toward the concert near there. As we walk pass a bar, two guys wearing black jacket come out of the bar and sit on the chair setting near the bars window. They talk loudly and speak rude words and we try to walk fast. After passing them, I heard one of the guys screamed: You Suck!, You Fuck .. It is quite scary, isnt it? but it does not end here. When we arrive the concert, the people are dancing, singing, chit-chatting on the grass. Kids are playing on the grass, some people laying on the ground and enjoy their meal. It is so lively that the concert is the best place to socialize. We leave the concert a few minutes after arriving and move on to Starbuck coffee. When some of us get in the caf to get some drink, one of my friends is standing outside taking photos and he accidentally points the camera to a group of American teenager. A guy grins evilly and shouted Are you taking picture of me? my friend abruptly put the camera away and walk aside. For security, we decided to head back to our hotel and never to go out again until morning. Life in Helena is somehow interesting but it is hard to say what happen if you bump into those guys.

July 9th – Swan

Today was the first day with full of lectures from 8:30 am to 9 pm. We really feel tired after passing through the day but we did a great job by participating in all the lectures by asking great questions in the lectures.

As usual in the morning 8:15, we gather in the launch to go the the NAC 201 where we have to attend lectures. The first lecture is about the Public Policy Issues in Natural Resource Management by Dr Alan Watson from Aldo Leopold Institute. Actually, he was the host family of Rosie and Seata. He gave a really academic lecture about the Wilderness which was first introduced by as American famous and influencing writer, Aldo Leopold.

After the first lecture, we headed to "The Missoulian", which is the local newspaper in the Missoula by biking along the clerk folk river. There, Mr Rob Chaney said about the how the daily newspaper operate and how they inform public about the local and international news. He said especially about how they take the referee role between the government, businesses and public , and how they influence the legislators and state executive teams to be accountable for their actions. After that discussion, 10 SUSI students went to visit the YWCA.

After lunch, next lecture about the Climate Change, especially about Montana, was run by Dr. Steve Running. He is the Nobel Peace Price winner in 2007. He mostly talked about the scientific research in Climate Change like green house gases, raising sea level, ocean acidification, and early spring snowmelting. Wild fire is a big problem in Montana as it is hot and dry in summer. Finally, he finished the lecture by giving the future energy options. What he talked interestingly is that human are currently using the resources of one and half world which will be no longer sustainable if we could not find the alternative way of using energy.

The final lecture is about the Green Business by Ms. lisa Swallow and she run it as a workshop. She focused on sustainability in running a business. Actually, this workshop is for the businessmen but we learn pretty much.

Our group had the Biga pizza for dinner. Finally, we reach the last session by viewing the Documentary Plastic Bag Campaign, "Bag It" and after that, current Cambodian SUSI participants present about the program that the former Cambodian SUSI alumni run in their own country. Seata also talked about her program that she wants to run in her country,Laos.

As today was a very busy day with tight schedule, everybody was so tired after the whole day program.