A Barcelona Adventure

My name is Carmyn Wahl and this fall I am entering my senior year the University of Montana. I am earning my finance and international business degree along with a certificate in global leadership. I had the incredible opportunity to spend the spring of 2019 in the vibrant city of Barcelona, Spain. This was my first experience living outside of the United States and while I knew the culture and lifestyle would be different, I did not expect to have my eyes opened to a completely new way of living life. Moments after stepping off the airplane, I was overwhelmed with changes and new thoughts and ideas. I was standing at the baggage claim in my UM sweatshirt and leggings standing next to an older man in a three piece suit. And I was the odd one out. I knew immediately the next five months of my life would be the most influential part of my college experience. 

The global theme and challenge that I chose to focus on is natural resources and sustainability. Although I was unable to directly learn about sustainability from my university, I used every day as a new chance to learn from other students and the community. A few things stood out to me about Barcelona and other Spanish cities green initiatives. First was their waste collection system. Largely different from the United States, every street is lined with giant recycling bins that are color coordinated with what their specific purpose is. Yellow for cans and cartons, blue for paper and cardboard, green for glass, brown for organic waste, and gray for other (non garbage) waste. Garbage and recycling is a community effort rather than individual, which I believe is a considerable step in the right direction for fighting against climate change and conserving our fragile world. This system is also a great example of the rich community lifestyle that many cities in Europe possess. 

While attending Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, I was able to take an extensive marketing class which will help enhance my communication and pitching skills; something that is sometimes overlooked yet crucial to any job or project. I also took a Spanish taxation class, which, I know, sounds extremely boring, but it ended up becoming my favorite class to attend in Spain. The professor related every concept and idea back to the European Union and the United States. I now have an intermediate understanding of how the US relates trades and interacts with Europe. I have dreams to work in Spain (or anywhere in Europe, really) in business and environmental conservation and this framework of information will be more than beneficial in what I eventually pursue.

I feel much more prepared to fulfill a leadership role now and in the future because of the multitude of knowledge I absorbed in this foreign environment. I cannot thank the GLI and the Franke family, fellow students, and my professors both here and abroad enough for shaping me into the confident and dream driven person I feel I am today. 


Un Semestre en Chile

Mason Dow – University of Montana – Universidad Adolfo Ibanez

Entrada Uno: el 22 de febrero a el 18 de abril

Soy Mason, de Estados Unidos. Nació en un pueblo en el sur de Oregon que se llama Ashland. Vivo y estudio en una puebla en el estado de Montana se llama Missoula, a la Universidad de Montana. Estudio negocios internacionales, marketing y cambia clima. Ahora, estoy estudiando a la Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez en Vina del Mar. Me encanta a hacer trekking, esquiar, escalar y viajar a lugares nuevos.

Llegue a Chile en el 22 de febrero. Pase dos semanas de explorar la ciudad de Viña, antes de la empieza del semestre. Visite Chile por vacaciones en el año pasado durante el mes de enero. Pase un poco tiempo en Valparaíso, pero nunca en Viña, entonces necesitaba aprender la ciudad que ha pasado los seis meses próximos. Fui a las playas diferentes y algunos restaurantes, bares y clubs. También, fui a las dunas y playas de Concón a surfear. Soy terrible a surfear.

No pude mandar en el departamento que ha planeado a mudarme cuando llegaba, entonces necesité mudarme en un hostal en el sur parte de Viña. Ese fue bien hasta los cinco o seis noches, porque tenia una habitación a mi mismo y también un baño y ducha que no necesitaría compartir. Por ahora, estoy viviendo con mis compañeros de cuarto; un amigo chileno se llama Ricardo y una amiga de alemana se llama Terri. Nuestro edificio Coraceros, muy acerca de la playa.

Las clases ha empezada, pero solo tengo clases en los días de martes, miércoles y jueves. Por esto, yo fui en muchos viajes de trekking y escalada en las semanas tempranas de mis estudias. Describiré esos con fotos y capciones abajo.”

Alison y Cerro Elefante por el tardecer.

Fui en ese viaje con Alison, quien conocí en el primer día de clases. Este fue la primera vez de trekking por ella, y ella estaba legítimamente orgullosa para completar los caminos de senderos. Después de Cochamó, fuimos a Bariloche en Argentina a trek a Refugio Frey. Fuimos juntos con un amigo se llama Erik de los Estados Unidos, que le conocimos en Cochamó.

Conocí un hombre de Australia se llama Paul, que me convenció a juntarte en una ruta de escalar tradicional. Escalábamos mucho durante la noche, pero todo fue bien y después de lo completamos, celebramos con las cervezas

Despues de mis aventuras de trekking en Cochamó y Frey, me acomode en mi vida y rutina normal en Viña. Disfrutaba la vida noche de las ciudades de Viña y Valparaíso con las chicos y chicas extranjeros y nuestros amigos. Conocí un grupo de escaladores chilenos, y fuimos en algunas excursiones para escalar. Pasaba mucho tiempo de escalar en el lugar en campus, que estoy muy agradecido por. Iba a la playa con frecuencia, y disfrutaba las puestas del sol casi cada noche. También, tuve la oportunidad a ir a mi festival de música primera en Santiago-Lollapalooza Chile. Vi algunos de mis artistas favoritas, como Kenrdick Lamar y Portugal the Man.

Tengo las clases de Cultura Chilena, Marketing en Latín América, Negocios Sustentable en Sudamérica y una clase que compara los sistemas de gobierno de Socialismo, Capitalismo y Comunismo en Sudamérica. Mis estudias son diferentes de que estadio en la Universidad de Montana, y agradezco por las opiniones y maneras de pensar de los profesores acá en Chile.

En la empieza de abril, fui a Patagonia con un grupo de estudiantes internacionales a hacer el trek “W” en Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. A hacer eso fue un sueño mío. Pasamos cinco noches en el sendero, y encontramos muchos tipos del clima. En el segundo día, había lluvia v viento mas fuerte que había experiencia. Pero en los días próximos, tuvimos sol y temperaturas buenas.

Las cosas que pudimos ver fueron increíbles, como la Glacier Grey y Los Torres. Despertamos a las cuatro en la mañana para ir a Los Torres durante el amanecer en el día final en el parque. He incluido fotos y videos de ese viaje abajo, y también mi vida en Viña del Mar.

Entrada Dos: el 19 de abril a el 23 de mayo

En esos meses de abril y mayo, fui en muchos viajes a partes diferentes de Chile. Mi amigo Dan y yo pasamos un día de trekking en Cerro la Campana en la cordillera central, a la este de Viña del Mar. El camino fue muy difícil y escarpado y caminamos por todo el día. Fuimos con otros chicos chilenos y conocimos amigos nuevos. También fui a el desierto de atacama con algunos amigos. Alquilamos coches y conducimos a muchos partes acerca de San Pedro de Atacama. Exploramos algunos géiseres, termas, salares y valles. Hicimos un “tur de las estrellas” donde encontramos mucho sobre las constelaciones del hemisferio del sur. Eso fue un viaje muy lindo para mi, porque el desierto siempre me da un sentido como estar en otro planeta. Todas las vistas, colores y las puestas del sol eran increíble.

Tambien, pasamos un buen rato en una puebla pequeña, y hablamos con un hombre atacameño. Escribí ese lo mismo día describiendo mi experiencia con el y sus palabras:

Hernesto Álvarez Colque tocaba su guitarra por nosotros, y nos explicó sobre su esposa quien esta escribiendo un libro sobre su vida para preservar la historia. Hernesto esta analfabeta. Vive en la puebla de Machuca, donde el ayuda a mantener la iglesia y celebrar la cultura de su gente. Ellos dan gracias a Pachamama con las ofrendas de vino y hierbas. Esta seguro que la historia de los Atacameños continuará por sus hijos. Gracias a Hernesto por la música y palabras.

Entre los viajes a partes diferentes de Chile, hiciera tarea y otras cosas para mis clases, como escribir y leer. Encontraba muchas cosas sobre la historia de Chile. Encontré la historia de guerra naval en el Museo Marítimo en Valparaíso y escribí un papel sobre los eras de negocios internacionales en los siglos de los 1800’s y 1900’s. Tambien, aprendía mas sobre la era de Pinochet y todos los golpes de estado durante ese tiempo. Ahora conozco la plebecita y la campana de “Si”.

Mi compañero de sala, Ricardo, necesita estudiar mucho y no tiene mucho tiempo libre. Los dos de nosotros estamos pasando semestres muy diferentes. Estoy encontrando sobre Chile en mis clases y también con mis ojos y orejas cuando visito esos lugares.

Cuando tenia tiempo libre, paso mucho tiempo en la playa enfrente de mi edificio. A ver los puestos del sol encima del mar. Me aparece cada tarde hay colores diferentes y fantásticos.

En la semana pasada, fui a Pucón con algunos amigos. Pasamos un fin de semana muy activo; mandamos bicicletas y hicimos rafting en el Rio Trancura. Por el día final, mis amigos Max, Gugi y yo mandamos bicicletas a un parque a la oeste de Pucón. Había senderos que los mandamos muy rápido, y empujé pasada mi limite. Me calle algunas veces y duele la mano-el sendero fue difícil porque era muchos pierdas y roca volcánica en polvo. En total mandamos mas de 60 kilometres y pasamos todo el día por nuestras bicicletas.

Entrega Tres: el 24 de mayo a el 19 de junio

Eso es mi ultimo entrega en mi blog acá en Chile. Decidí para no irme en mas viajes afuera de la región de Valparaíso. Quería explorar eso parte de Chile mas y entender mi hogar mas. También tenia mucho sueño por los viajes pasadas que hice. He sentido que mi vida era pasando por cien miles por hora, y quería reducir la velocidad. Entonces pase el tiempo por hacer cosas mas tranquilas. Mis amigos y yo cocinábamos muchos platos en casa; berenjena de parmesana, pad thai, burgers y tacos ricos, pizzas personales y un gran “brunch” con crepes, huevos revueltos, ensalada de fruta y mimosas.

En muchas noches, mis amigos y yo hemos vuelto a un departamento de alguien, y pasamos noches tranquilos con juegos de cartas, vino y te. Se enseñábamos nuestros juegos favoritos de nos países de origen. Alison y yo aprendimos un juego nuevo cuando estábamos haciendo trekking en Argentina a la empieza del semestre de dos hombres de Isreal. No lo tiene un nombre, entonces el grupo necesita hacer un nombre nuevo cada vez lo jugamos. Aprendí los juegos italianos clásicos de Scopa y Briscola de Gugi, y esos son divertidos también.

Pase algunos fines de semana por el surf en Playa la Boca de Concón. Por la empieza, no pude hacer nada en la tabla-no levantarme ni nada. ¡Pero, con practica y tiempo, me mejore y ahora puedo coger una ola y surfear a la izquierda o derecho! Eso es una habilidad que no creía obtener en mi vida y ahora tengo emocionado para ir a playas diferentes y intentar para surf allá.

Las semanas pasadas ha marcado por algunos altos y bajos. En lo mismo tiempo estoy intentando a disfrutar el presente, con mis amigos nuevos de acá y la experiencia de vivir en Chile; pero tengo mucho emocionado para reunir con mi familia. He faltado muchas cosas importantes en las vidas de las personas de mi familia. Mi hermano grado colegio y mi hermana grado Universidad en las semanas recientemente.

He buscado por una manera para decir adiós a esas personas. En realidad, es probamente que no voy a ver muchos de ellos otra vez en el futuro. Todos de nosotros vivimos en lugares diferentes en muchas partes del mundo. Y yo vivo en montana; casi la media de ninguna parte, y por eso es improbable que voy a recibir visitantes en el futuro.

Me encanta todos de esas personas que he conocido de los cinco meses. Ellos serian mis amigas mas cerca en si viven los estados unidos, y creo que la amistad ir mas allá de las fronteras y océanos. Voy a faltar mis amigos de escalar (los monos), mis compañeros de sala y todos de los extranjeros de intercambio.

Voy a necesitar para reflectar y entender todo mi tiempo acá y que me significa. Para vivir en un otro país, aun un otro lugar es para aprende mas sobre se.

A ellos digo; gracias por todo. A Chile digo; gracias por todo.

A Pearl with Cracks

The Pearl of Africa

I thought maybe she was going to survive.

As I entered the cramped slit in the wall where the prostitutes live the smell of stale body odor and feces hit me. It was gross, but after two and a half months working in these conditions the smell was all too familiar. I had been working in the Kisenyi slums since my first week in Uganda. Kisenyi was where a lot of the homeless boys and girls of the capital city, Kampala, would stay. It was fairly safe, and there was plenty of metal scraps they could salvage to make a little money. On this particular day we were doing HIV testing for the girls. They were 12 to 21 years old and had to prostitute themselves to pay for the area they called home. I use the term home loosely for I could hardly call it a place of comfort and security, something a home should be. There was two sets of beds drilled into the sides of the wall stacked three high, six beds total. On each bed slept 4 to 5 girls and whenever one of the girls had to do “business” with a client the others girls in the bed would move to another bed until they were finished. If you looked closely enough at the beds you could see little bugs scampering everywhere, I thought at first they were lice then I thought they were termites after awhile I didn’t really care what they were.

As I was outside doing HIV testing one of the girls came up to me. “Uncle,” she said, (all the kids would lovingly refer to the white people as Aunties and Uncles), “will you go check on Fatimah? I think she is sick.”

After I finished testing all the girls and some of their clients (all of which were HIV negative to my suprise) I went into the area to check on Fatimah. As I entered the little slit in the wall a nasty little man came out. He reeked of alcohol and was tightening up his belt, it was clear he just finshed up his business. Fatimah was on the bottom bunk in the first room with her little baby sleeping at her feet. I felt her head, she was running a fever and was sweaty. It looked like she had just finished a marathon. Her eyes were half closed and all I could see was the whites of her eyes. I snapped my fingers in front of her face in an attempt to wake her up, no response, and gently placed my fingers on her carotid artery to feel her pulse.

Bump…Bump…Bump…

It was so slow. Not even close to the heart rate of a normal person. Her breathing was shallow and strained. She needed to go to a hospital. I walked out of the room and found Fred. Fred was my translator and one of the most amazing people I have met, he dedicated his life to the boys and girls of the streets,

“Fred, Fatimah needs to go to a hospital right now.” I said, hoping the urgency in my voice would be clear.

“She’s fine, man. I talked with her yesterday.” he replied.

“No she’s not. She has gotten worse, if she doesn’t go today then she will die.”

Fred’s eyes flashed wide with surprise. He went into the room and checked on her. After seeing her he knew I was right.

“We can’t afford to take her in, Canyon. It is too expensive,” he said.

I pulled out my wallet and gave him 100,000 Ugandan shillings, about $27 U.S. dollars.

“Taker her to the hospital right now.”

I returned to see the girls three days later. I met up with Fred and the look on his face was a clear indicator of what he was about to say. Fatimah had died the night before. The doctors tested her the night we brought her into the hospital and found that she had advanced-stage HIV. She had been taking the drugs that suppress the virus from spreading but stopped taking it several years ago because she could never remember to take them everyday so she just quit. Before she died one of the doctors asked if she knew who might have given her the disease. She didn’t know. It could of been one of her three boyfriends, or the roughly 15 clients who regularly see her. She was 16.

I think often about Fatimah. It hurts me to think about a life cut so tragically short. The entire time I had known her she was very sick but she still managed to be lively and cheerful every time I visited. Whenever I came to visit I always brought her and the rest of the girls some candy. They loved taffy and would always make sure I got a piece too. I always insisted the candy was for them but they still wanted me to have some. Even in the worst of conditions they always wanted to give. I was humbled by their generosity. She loved that baby of hers. I never learned the little ones name but he was so cute. The first time I held him he had this look of shock on his face. I don’t think he had ever seen a white person before.

What is going to happen to her baby? I often wonder but I know the answer. It will either die or live long enough to become another child of the streets, that is what happens to almost all of the orphans.

Fatimah’s baby sleeping by his mothers feet. I took this a few weeks before she died.

When Winston Churchill first visited Uganda he called it the Pearl of Africa, and I’d have to agree with him. There is an abundance of beauty every where you look. The massive Nile River meanders through the country and gives life to everything. Lions, hippos, rhinos, and elephants roam freely in Murchison Falls National Park. One of our closest relatives, the mountain gorilla, survives in the dense Bwindi Impenetrable Forest thanks to the hard work of many conservationists. Ugandans from the city to the countryside are some of the kindest, most-giving people in the entire world. Though with the good comes the bad and there are reminders everywhere which never let you forget that suffering exists. Homeless kids sniff jet-fuel on the streets to numb the pain and hunger. A HIV-positive mother of three can’t afford to send her children to school. Guards are stationed by every single surviving rhino in the country, a reminder that there are people who want to kill these animals for their horns.

So yes, this country is a pearl, but a pearl with cracks.

I will never forget my time in Uganda. This country whipped me back and forth across the spectrum of human emotion and I don’t believe I am the same person I was before I left. Now that I am back home I find there is a whole lot less to complain about and a whole lot more to be thankful for. A good reminder for everyone born into a life of privilege.

On safari in Murchison Falls National Park.
Just a few of the amazing people who I volunteered with.

A Semester in Ireland

My name is Morgan Sarmento, and I am a Media Arts Major with a focus in Digital Art and Technology. For my Spring semester, I got the amazing opportunity to go to Cork, Ireland which is the largest county in Ireland. I got to meet so many people while also learning about Irelands history, culture, and music. I studied some Marketing classes to help with my Global theme of Technology and Society. While taking my courses, I was able to lean some ideas about sustainability and how Ireland is an amazing example of how to be a greener country by both big and small changes.

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When I started my adventure in Ireland, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been prepared by different organizations and learned a lot from others who have been there before, but there is so much more to Ireland than meets the eye. The first day that I arrived I knew that it would be a great time because of my encounter with my Taxi driver. Although I couldn’t understand some of the things, he was talking about due to his thick accent I knew that he was trying hard to help me understand the layout of Cork before classes started and help me so I wouldn’t get lost in such a big city. That to me reminded me of the kindness that Montana is known for and made me feel more at home in such a strange country.

During the semester, I chose classes that would be a great way to learn about Ireland from a more academic standpoint. I took an Archeology class while I was there and learned about the history behind Ireland and how it came to be the way it is today. That class also took us on field trips to various places in Ireland that had a historic meaning. We even got to see a Tower house that was renovated in 1885 and has stone carvings of the occupant’s names and the year that the new window was put in. It gave me a sense of just how old Ireland is compared to a lot of landmarks that are considered historic in America.

One of the other courses that I took which by far was my favorite was the learning the Irish language in an Irish speaking county. This class was a week-long trip where you got to go and live in a county that only spoke the native Irish language. I was able to learn some Gaeilge while also learning some of the other aspects of Irish culture that are important its rich history like the art and music and traditional dances. I also got to do some fun activities while there as well like a 14-mile bike ride along the coast and even visited a crystal shop that made the Crystal bowl that is given to the President as a gift from Ireland.

Aside from classes meeting the people and learning about their history and daily lives was fascinating. I went to a nail salon and was able to get to know the nail tech that has lived in Cork all her life. I got to learn what she does for fun as well as learn just how different Montana and Ireland are. I had a wonderful conversation with her about the difference in temperature that it was in Montana versus the Temperature it was currently there and I also got to explain to her what a traditional fair and rodeo  was and she thought that it was interesting the tradition and that she hoped to go to America one day and see a rodeo for herself. This experience overall was amazing. I learned so much about myself in such a short period that will help me in the future. I was able to learn and grow my knowledge and it broadened my creative horizons and I was able to meet people that have now become my best friend that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I now know what it’s like to truly be on my own and how to navigate living and working and schooling in a completely unfamiliar place and the tools that I have learned to cope with that will help me in the future so that no matter where I end up in my career or life, I will be prepared knowing I can handle anything life throws my way.

Interning with the State Department

Hi my name is Makkie and I study Political Science and Communication Studies at UM. I spent this past summer in Washington, D.C. interning with the Youth Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State. The Youth Programs Division is responsible for implementing all of the exchange programs that the State Department funds for both American and foreign high school students. 

My global theme is politics and culture and my challenge was figuring out how to promote cross-cultural understanding by engaging youth. Working with the Youth Programs Division was the perfect fit for me to explore this as I believe exchange programs are one of the best ways to promote this. Another reason I chose to intern with Youth Programs was because of my personal connection to one of their programs.  I was able to spend the summer after my senior year of high school studying Arabic in Morocco thanks to a State Department Program called the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) which is implemented by the office I worked with this summer. This program was life changing for me and sparked an interest in dedicating my professional career to helping others get the same global exposure I did through this program. 

There were about 20 employees in my division and only 3 interns so we were able to experience a wide variety of the work that they do. During my internship, I helped to compile grant packages, take meeting minutes, prepare briefing materials for senior department officials, write press releases, facilitate diplomatic simulations, and represent the Youth Programs Division at conferences and while meeting with members of congress. My favorite task of my internship was being able to help plan events for students who were either beginning or ending their exchange programs. Having the opportunity to interact with both American students and students from around the world and hear about their experiences was very inspiring and motivating. 

Overall, this experience further enforced the value of exchange programs for me and opened my eyes to many different career possibilities that I hadn’t previously considered. I also gained a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for all the behind the scenes work that goes into making these programs possible. I really appreciated having the chance to interact with people from so many different cultures and learned so much from each of them. I never would have thought I could have had such an international experience without even leaving the country! Thanks so much to the Franke Family and the GLI program for making this experience possible for me! 

Ciao from ACLE!

When my Italian adventure began, I didn’t know just how closely I would follow the GLI theme “Culture and Politics”. The appeal of ACLE, or Associazione Culturale Linguistica Educational, was the chance to see Italy in a unique way and to teach a group of students that were similar to American children (but much more boisterous and fond of the song Baby Shark). I knew I would have fun teaching English to these kids and that it would be a valuable experience for everyone to share in each others’ cultures, but I didn’t know how powerful ACLE’s curriculum and a little passion could be.

Exchanging language and life experience with someone from a different culture enriches perspective, sure, but my abroad experience brought even more to the table. ACLE’s model is centered around creating bonds with the Italian students and sharing your piece of the world with them. One of our afternoon themed activities is “Culture Day” in which each tutor has their own workshop based on their country or state. These workshops include games, crafts, songs, and general silliness. A fellow tutor from Canada brought maple syrup for her students to try and taught them the Canadian National Anthem. I prepared a mini-lesson about the Salish tribe and conducted a Native American Art Workshop. More than anything, ACLE wants to promote a global community because, in general, Italians tend to have a rigid mindset about the rest of the world. Most citizens never move away from their home country, and 99% of Italy’s population is native. Arrigo Speziali, the founder of ACLE, told us that it doesn’t matter if the students learn a single word of English; what matters is that they become inspired about the rest of the world and start considering themselves to be global citizens.

In addition to broadening Italian students’ perspectives, ACLE has started to implement an environmental agenda to their curriculum this year. Students learn about keeping the oceans clean, deforestation in the Amazon, and acid rain alongside grammar lessons. While Italy is bellisima, there is a lot of trash in this country. Reusable water bottles are nowhere to be seen (ACLE gave the tutors new metal water bottles this year to try to counteract this trend) and everything is made of disposable plastic. Right now, I am watching an Italian woman dump bottle after bottle of water into a pot to make tea even though the Rome tap water is perfectly fine to drink, and, to top it off, threw the plastic bottles into the “organic waste” bin instead of the “plastic” recycling bin. At camp, we encourage environmentalism by having the students brainstorm how we can help keep Italy beautiful, sustainable, and clean. The ACLE curriculum calls for crafts, like turning a water bottle into a planter, and science experiments, like carving “monuments” out of sidewalk chalk and pouring vinegar over it to represent the effects of acid rain. The creativity of this environmental-minded curriculum has a huge influence on the students. And the best part is that they have so much fun doing these activities that they don’t even realize they are learning!

Italy’s culture has many differences from our own. In my classroom, the students were very passionate and easily distracted, which I took to mean that I wasn’t doing my job correctly. Actually, that’s just how these children are, and a classroom of excitable students is much better than students asleep at their desks. People kiss you on the cheek, and you have to learn which direction they go for first in order to avoid an awkward maneuver. They barely eat any vegetables and your diet consists almost entirely of carbs. You WILL eat pizza every day. The biggest cultural changes were, for me, jarring because I’ve never been outside of the United States before. After a while I adjusted. The key is to jump in and consider everything an adventure rather than a struggle (and call your mom twice a day when you’re exasperated).

My perspective on global community changed this summer because it is one matter to discuss what “global community” means while you’re sitting in a UM classroom but quite another to tell a 12-year-old boy named Matteo what Native Americans are for the first time. In our current political climate, it is more important than ever to learn appreciation and empathy for those in different cultures than our own.

This experience developed my leadership skills tremendously. The first (rather silly) growth spurt was the trip itself. I call this abroad experience my trip of Firsts: first time on a plane, first time out of the country, first time being away from home for several months, first time trying to navigate public transportation in a foreign language, etc. There were no baby steps involved in this process, and I am proud that I accomplished those things and lived to tell the tale. Another way that this abroad experience made me a better leader is everything ACLE asks of their tutors. Every day, I would lead a group of 15 to 80 students in songs, games, crafts, and lessons. I conducted my own classroom, the first opportunity I’ve had to do so as an Education major. I’ve collaborated with colleagues and ACLE staff to make each camp the best that it can possibly be, and I’ve evolved a lot through this process. My newly acquired leadership skills were born out of necessity to do my job well and to not get lost in Europe, but I’m grateful for every uncomfortable growth opportunity I’ve stumbled upon along the way.

This experience has brought about one big question: will this generation of students change the world because of our influence? The adult population of Italy doesn’t see climate change or global community as priorities, but it is my dearest hope that the students I’ve had in my classrooms will change that mentality. It has never been more important to be good stewards of our planet.

Italy embraces you the second you step off the plane (and I’m not just talking about the humidity). During my time here, I have known nothing but welcome from everyone I meet. This trip has taught me that human beings are fundamentally the same everywhere: children are crazy and playful, everyone loves to laugh, being good at charades helps surpass any language barrier, and family is everything. People here live passionately, and I hope that I have adopted some of that zeal for life. I will always be grateful to the many host families who have taken me in and the friends I’ve made among the tutors and Italian ACLE staff.

To anyone considering going to Italy, know that Italy will love you back just as hard as you love it. Say yes to every adventure, get to know people who speak broken English on the bus, and try every flavor of gelato under the Tuscan sun. I will come back to the USA with a suitcase full of souvenirs and a bigger heart, because Italy has taught me that the best thing we can do with our short time on Earth is to love every moment as much as we possibly can. Thank you, ACLE, for helping me grow as an educator and a human being and thank you, GLI, for making that growth possible.

A Semester n Torino

My name is Delaney Slade, I’m a Management Information Systems major and this past semester I got the opportunity to live in the beautiful city of Torino, Italy. This once capital of Italy is a melting pot of cultures, art, architecture, history, amazing food, as well as being a gateway to France and Switzerland. I studied business while also taking a communications class for my GLI global theme, Culture & Politics.

The school I attended was an international business school so, in addition to the students being from all over the world, the professors were as well which enhanced my time studying in addition to the course material. My GLI focused class, Intercultural Communication ended up being the class I enjoyed the most and felt I gained the most from. We focused on how collectivistic vs individualistic cultures differ and how that affects everything from family, relationships, jobs, the past, and the future. Being able to look at other places and people in this light has provided me an outlook of understanding rather than judging for being different than the bubble I grew up in. The focus on how much ethnocentrism can affect our everyday lives and inhibit travel and growth opened my eyes in this course.

Another great opportunity I had because of this class was taking a field trip to Brussels, Belgium and visiting the European Union headquarters. The timing of this was so interesting because it was in the midst of Brexit and we were able to actually watch a live debate between two government officials from the United Kingdom. We also were able to speak to people about what they thought about the United States government and their perspective on the current political climate.

The EU Parliament

These experiences and also the city I lived in allowed me to come face to face with a diverse range of issues and situations that honestly made me very uncomfortable at times and forced me to grow. While Torino is amazing and it has a huge place in my heart now, the first couple of weeks I was there were quite challenging. In most other places in Italy that are more traveled by tourists (Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Tuscany region), almost everyone in the hospitality industry speaks some English. In Torino this was not the case, it was very overwhelming and isolating at times to be completely unable to speak with someone when trying to accomplish basic tasks. This actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of Torino, once I learned some Italian it was amazing to interact with locals and experience the most authentic Italy I could. Many cities are heavily frequented by study abroad students, there were only 55 Americans in Torino (it’s Italy’s 4thlargest city, about one million people).  Locals were slightly confused but mostly intruiged and enthusiastic that we had chosen their city to travel to.

The amount I have learned about myself and also the world over the last 5 months astounds me. But as I’m sure how many people feel after traveling, the more places you visit the more you realize how little you know and the more traveling you feel you must do to see it all. Overall, I could not have asked for a better experience. I got to see so much of Europe and also learn about myself and cultures all around the world. We truly do learn the most when we are out of our comfort zones and pushing our own personal limits.

Un semestre muy chévere

My name is Danika and I am a senior at UM with a double major in Psychology and Spanish. I spent the spring semester living in Cali, Colombia where I took classes with native speakers on all sorts of topics including sociology and economics in order to improve my Spanish skills and discover Latin American culture. My Global Theme and Challenge were related to Culture and Politics.

I lived with a host family and 10 other exchange students, something that gave me comfort in my first time living away from my family. Being in a culture far different from my own tested my patience (Colombians aren’t much for timeliness and fast pace) and increased my understanding of the different life experiences around the world. I was met with the utmost kindness and respect from my classmates and professors who always made sure to check in and see how I was doing.

I came to Colombia thinking I was fluent in Spanish, but learned quickly that I was intermediate at best. After a couple trying weeks, I began to pick up on the accent and different words used by the Caleños and my language ability increased tremendously. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and not be afraid to make mistakes in order to improve and be able to communicate with the people around me.

My experience taught me to go after my dreams and goals without fear of failure and embarrassment. I was able to visit Machu Picchu during spring break (a bucket list item), hold a baby crocodile in Panama, and explore some of the immense, incredible country that I was fortunate enough to call home for five months. Te amo para siempre, Colombia!

A Semester in the Lion City

My name is Abby Borden and I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. While the sun is shining and the Clark Fork is flowing, I am currently in my summer semester, five thousand miles away from the garden city in a small city in Germany called Braunschweig.

Things I learned from living in Germany for five months:

• It doesn’t matter what people think about you, as long as they remember you as being kind.
Anywhere you go there will be excitement or drama or personal sacrifice. Changing your environment truly tests how well you can adapt to adversity. Even in the toughest times, if you can manage to be kind to others, you will never regret your actions (or at least make it more difficult to regret).

Panel of the Berliner Mauer that translates to “You have learned what freedom means and never forget that”

• You can make friends with anyone.
And you should because sometimes you’ll meet people who will challenge to be so much better than you thought you could be in just five months of your life.

• Statistically- if you are from the United States, you are the most likely to the worst cook in the room.
Yeah, so it turns my range of cooking abilities is pretty limited. Pretty much the only thing that impressed my friends was my homemade banana-walnut pancakes, which seemed pretty granola next to the traditional Italian, Indian, Chinese, Pakistani, Spanish, and German cuisine of my friends.

Löwenwall 16.7.2019- Braunschweig is known as the Lion City so in almost every park you can find a lion statue

• If you want to feel simultaneously more confident and more skeptical of where your from and your values- move to a different country.
Especially being from the United States, where our politics are so highly publicized, everyone has an opinion. Whether they are for or against he things that are very comfortable to you about the US, discussions about world affairs really invoke a fierce jolt of self reflection.

• If you want to feel confident in yourself- take classes in a foreign language because anything you learn will be personally progress, as well as a great story later.
Nothing is a better boost to your ego than leaning a second language as an adult. It’s difficult and rare- so learning a fundamental form of communication while learning something like chemistry or architecture and succeeding will let you know that anything is possible. You just have to try.

• If you give up hope that your bus is coming, it will 100% come around the corner the moment you turn back to walk home instead.
Public transportation is amazing, but is also the number one source of my heartbreak that I experienced in Europe.

Nationalpark Hochharz, Brocken 1.6.2019- Brocken peak is the highest point in Lower Saxony, it’s no match for Glacier National Park but it has a wild history of witches and alchemy

• There will always be someone to help you, you just have to ask.
I remember being in Italy on my summer class break and I missed so many trains and even a flight and on top of it I had lost my credit card- my brain was just not in the right place. I was so fortunate, however, to have made som amazing friends who lent me some money and took me out for gelato to cheer me up. A week later they even checked up on me to make sure I had gotten back to school safely. Traveling somewhere new can be both the most amazing. Experience and the most frightening, but there are always going to be people who believe in you and will be there to give you an extra push when you need it. About 95% of the time while traveling, I experienced so much kindness from people I had never met: women on train platforms, people with spare chains when you’re short a few euros, fellow travelers who also know what is like to be alone. But you’ll never be alone for long.

Wildlife Conservation in South Africa

During most of the year, I’m a media arts and filmmaking student at the University of Montana. This summer, however, I’m a wildlife researcher and international volunteer! Thanks to the generous contribution of the Franke Global Leadership Initiative, I had the opportunity to take on a whole new experience related to my global interests. This summer, I am volunteering at a wildlife research base in the Limpopo region of South Africa. This experience has been absolutely life-changing so far. I’m so grateful to be here and to contribute to real-world wildlife research in the wilds of Africa. 

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Global Theme

My chosen GLI Global Theme and Challenge is natural resources and sustainability. This program directly relates to this theme because the volunteer program I am participating in is a wildlife conservation experience. This program exposes participants to life as a bush researcher. I’m only halfway through my experience thus far but I have learned a tremendous amount about the conservation work in this area and how data collection of wildlife helps sustain the ecosystems of South Africa. Every day here in the bush has opened my eyes to a new idea and topic related to this theme and I can’t wait to incorporate this knowledge into my GLI Capstone Project in the future.

My Experience

I am here with a program called Global Vision International (GVI) which is in partnership with AFS Next. GVI is a worldwide volunteer organization that allows students like myself to participate in a wide range of volunteer experiences. In my case, I am with a wildlife research team to collect big cat data at Karongwe Game Reserve. The GVI base here at Karongwe monitors the big cats species, collects data on them, and helps maintain the reserve as a whole. It’s very busy with lots to take care of and do here at the base camp. There are over seven countries represented here at the moment and there’s a diverse mix of personalities, but we all have something in common: a love for wildlife. 

Everyday is full of surprises, but here is the short version of daily life here:

The team goes out on two 3.5 hour drives each day. One in the morning and the other in the evening. The purpose of these drives is to go out and find the big cats on the reserve, monitor them, collect data on them, and then later plug that data into the base computer. The primary focus with the research drives is to find a group of three male cheetahs. It’s currently these three brothers that are the first thing we need to go and find each drive. Once we reach a presumed location, a volunteer sets up the telem and tries to find a signal. One of the male cheetahs has an implanted tracker inside him so we can generally find him using telemetry. On a good day, we’ll stop a few times, test the telem, and then finally hear a beep from the telem indicating which direction the cheetahs are from us. 

It’s about a 50-50 chance we’ll actually end of seeing the cheetahs on drive. When we do find them, it’s time for data collection. We GPS their location and answer the main research questions. Where are they located? How full are their stomachs? Do they have a kill to feed on? What species are they feeding on? Are they mobile? Other notes? All of these notes are later imputed into a huge database for further research. Once this primary data is collected, the team then goes out to do the same thing for a pride of lions, and if time allows after that, the herd of elephant on the reserve. Aside from the research, some other duties as a volunteer include cleaning the base, reserve work, cooking for staff, and data entry. 

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I have gained a much better understanding of my theme and challenge from this experience. The biggest takeaway related to sustainability is the controversy around certain species protection in South Africa. The biggest topics include elephant culling, rhino dehorning, and game hunting and how these issues have positive and negative effects on sustaining the bush ecosystem in South Africa.

This experience has positively benefited my leadership skills. Everything we do is a team effort here at base. It is this collaboration that allows us to conduct the large scope of research we do and maintain a healthy base camp. 

The best part of this experience is meeting a group of extraordinary individuals. Each volunteer, intern, and staff members shares a passion for wildlife and a wanderlust for the world. What makes us different is our backgrounds. Where we’re from, what lead us to GVI, and our strengths and skills that contribute to life on base. It has been amazing representing the US and more specifically Montana here with GVI. 

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This experience would not have been possible with the Franke Global Leadership Initiative at the University of Montana. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for this opportunity! 

Blog Post by Jeff Hyer