Southern France

My study abroad experience in Aix-en-Provence was one that has shaped me into the person I am today. I was able to experience different lifestyles, cultures, and ideas all in a short period of four months. During my first three years in Missoula, I watched as the political climate of the US changed drastically and I wanted to discover how other countries viewed the political side of religion. For my GLI experience, I planned to take a deeper look into immigrant and refugee issues.

My host city, Aix-en-Provence, is situated in the south of France, only thirty minutes from the second largest city, Marseille. Marseille is starkly different to the rest of France. Because it is located on the Mediterranean Sea, it has become a new home to many immigrant families, many from Syria, Libya, and Northern Africa.

From the bustling cities of Paris and Nice to the small villages of Arles and Avignon, the French love to spend time together. Sharing a meal, having a cigarette, or drinking a glass of wine is necessary to every day life. Their culture is based on tight knit relationships: young people often live with their families much longer than in the US, and even after moving out, will still visit regularly to spend time together. I really appreciated this part of the culture, whether it be a couple walking in the park, old men playing “pétanque” every Saturday, or a group of young high school boys eating pizza at their usual spot at lunch. This also made it difficult to understand the French view of the “other”. Their perception of foreigners can be negative, and I struggled to find acceptance as an American. I can understand that sometimes people associate stereotypes and political leaders with the people from that country. But it made me wonder how they perceive immigrants and refugees? Through research, I learned that France has struggles to define who the “French” man or woman is, with immigration being a major political issue throughout the years. I believe it is deeply rooted in the French history, dating back to the French revolution and the freedom from religion. France is working towards a more tolerant view of other religions and others in general. I hope to bring to the US a new perspective on religious tolerance and immigration – two issues that have shaped the political climate today.

We have seen in these past few months, the detainment of immigrant children in the US. I think this issue is more prevalent that ever and is fueled by hate, not reason. As Americans, I do believe it is our responsibility to be the change we want to see in the world. We not only are privileged to have the freedom to do so, but the resources as well. GLI has given me the platform to make a difference in our community, to what I hope leads to a difference in our country.

My Abroad Experience- Melbourne, Australia

If you’re looking for an urban adventure filled with culture and kangaroos, Melbourne Australia is the place for you. Although it is the second biggest city in Australia, it’s easy to get lost in the beautiful outdoors that surround it. The Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, and countless national parks are just a few of the adventures that one may come across. Not to mention the city itself, being the art and culture capital of Australia. The streets are filled with people from every country imaginable. Because of this beautiful mix of new humanities and adventure, I decided to go to Melbourne for a semester as my out of the classroom experience.

IMG_5155

 

The choice of where to study abroad wasn’t easy. I wanted to find a place that would focus on my GLI theme of humanities, but I also wanted to be somewhere that I had no great knowledge of because I craved adventure. I have traveled to many countries, but after thinking about it, I decided Australia would be a new experience that I may not have the chance to do again. Melbourne is named the culture capital of the country, and also was a bigger city than I’ve ever had the chance to live in. It was perfect.

IMG_4875

 

Upon arrival, I immediately noticed that there were more people from different nationalities than I had ever seen in one place in my life. This was just at the airport. My school I attended, La Trobe University, is actually one third exchange students, creating a comfortable space to meet and greet students from all over the world. My first night I ate dinner with a girl from Malaysia. This was a memorable experience due to the fact that I had never had a chance to learn about Malaysia’s culture. I went to bed with thoughts of how different it would be to live in her world rather than mine in the United States.

IMG_4376

Throughout my time in Australia, I attended many different cultural events in the city. Whether it was a Holi Festival, an authentic Middle Eastern restaurant, or even just surfing with Australians, each experience left me with a better understanding of how truly different the values and customs are from each culture. This gave me a grasp on my GLI theme and challenge that I hope to apply in class this year. I now have first hand experience on how important it truly is to become knowledgeable about as many different nationalities as possible. It not only opens one’s eyes to the endless world that is outside of the United States, it also puts a new perspective on how important it is to honor and celebrates every individuals culture.

IMG_4697

All in all, I am proud of my experience in Melbourne Australia. I had to take steps that I have not before in my life. Being alone in a country you have never been to and don’t know anything about isn’t easy. I knew that I had to buck up, enjoy whatever experience life threw at me, and make decisions for myself that would create the best abroad experience I could have. Although the United States isn’t the most respected country by the rest of the world, (I had a few experiences where that was proved) I pushed myself each day to go to class, share my voice, and show that Americans can be open minded and leaders.

IMG_4810

Studying abroad is an experience that I believe everyone should take part in. Of course it is fun, but it also creates a more open mind, a more confident leader, and an endless desire for adventure. I am now prepared to start my senior year in GLI. I want to use my theme and knowledge to create a program giving students in grade school a taste of different cultures so they can learn what I learned in Australia, even if they don’t have the opportunity to go abroad. My out of the classroom experience was a life changing one, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

This summer, I spent three months living and working in Barcelona, Spain for my Beyond the Classroom experience.  I was an intern at a non-governmental organization that helps women start their own businesses in countries around the Mediterranean.  As an intern, I helped translate documents from Spanish (and sometimes other languages) to English, planned programs related to entrepreneurship for young women, and helped apply for grants from various institutions.  I learned a lot about the day-to-day operations of an NGO and how they interact with governments, businesses, and other organizations

.

IMG_5303

Spanish and Catalan independence flags in Barcelona

For my global challenge, I was interested in how political systems can address people of varied cultural practices and beliefs.  My time in Barcelona provided me with the perfect opportunity to examine this question. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain, which has its own language and many of its own cultural traditions.  The Catalan independence movement has a long history that continues today. While I was in Spain, the former Spanish president was removed and replaced, a new president of Catalonia was approved, and there were several demonstrations throughout Barcelona and Catalonia, both for and against independence.

I lived with a host family for the three months of my internship, which was an important part of my cultural education.  They were Catalan from small towns outside of Barcelona and spoke Catalan with each other. Because I only speak Spanish, or castellano, as they would say, the family had to switch languages when I was around.  Pretty much everyone in Catalonia also speaks Spanish, but I was aware of the different ways people would switch between languages.

As a political science student with this global challenge, I had many chances to have discussions and learn from the people I met.  Many of the Spanish people I interacted with were very interested to hear from an American, both about US politics and what was happening in Catalonia.  I watched Catalan television and attended pro-independence events with my host family and discussed the concerns of the business community and international groups at my internship.  One night, we went to an event where a representative from Finland and a lawyer from Scotland were translated into Catalan as they talked about their own countries’ experiences with independence and their identification with the independence movement.  My internship also provided an interesting way to compare countries, as I prepared reports on the status of policies about women and entrepreneurship in several Mediterranean countries.

Overall, I could not have wished for a better out of the classroom experience from my time in Spain.  My language skills have improved so much from living and working in Spanish, and my Catalan is coming along.  I feel confident and capable, and I can’t wait to return to Barcelona.

The City of Bells: Córdoba, Argentina

Welcome to Córdoba, Argentina, also known as the City of Bells because of the vast amount of churches that reside every few blocks. Around you are rolling hills known as sierras, and kioskos, or mini marts on every corner. You hear honking coming from the colectivos, or city buses trying to stay on their schedules which they can’t ever seem to keep. You smell freshly baked criollos coming from the bakeries as a stray dog follows you on your way to school. Most importantly, you are always greeted with a friendly kiss on the cheek and a smile.

qfAI9SEUT8OdMrupplMxAw

Cathedral in Córdoba city center

I arrived in Córdoba in February which is during their summer. I was welcomed with 100-degree weather and humidity that helps you stick to your sheets. Over the course of my first week I was introduced to my social tutor, Juli along with some other tutors assigned to my fellow UM classmates. Our tutors were not to help us academically, rather to help us figure out the bus system, get to the city center, find a good restaurant and of course, be our friends. We would find ourselves at the tutor’s houses hanging out after school and having asados, or barbeques on open grills. Our tutors were the ones who really helped us get in touch with the Argentine culture which helped us acclimate faster as well as more comfortably.

 

IMG_2752

Salinas Grandes, Salt Flats

Our classes were given completely in Spanish. We learned about the culture, the literature and were even taught by two highly recognized and published authors. Our classes gave us the opportunity to understand why Argentina is the way it is today as we learned about the dictatorship and the hardship the people had to go through not even 50 years ago. We learned about los desaparecidos, or “the disappeared” as during that time, many people who opposed the dictatorship mysteriously disappeared. Unfortunately, many people of that generation are still missing including children who were taken away from their families at birth. While in Argentina I learned how this tragedy is still affecting everyone from those who benefitted from the dictatorship, to those who don’t even keep their money in the bank anymore because of the insecurity.

 

p9FNYZWRTe+J+VliuXgXkQ

Boat tour in Iguazú Falls

One of my most treasured experiences was when some friends and I traveled northeast, right on the border of Argentina and Brazil to Iguazú Falls. The town itself was small and was comprised mostly of hotels and small tourist shops because the real attraction was just a short bus ride away, the waterfalls. In the Iguazú Falls Natural Park, jungle surrounds you as well as native species of both plants and animals. In the whole park there are over 200 waterfalls and metal or wooden paths to lead you all around. We were lucky enough to even take a boat tour and go underneath the falls! Gallons of water were dumped on us; it was an experience like nonother. People come from all over the Americas to see the spectacular waterfalls and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to see them for myself. This was just one of the aspects that enhanced my entire study abroad experience, but I feel that I am forever changed and extremely lucky to have had this chance to live in Argentina.

A Summer In Fire

39402053_222921421730305_8949231300917592064_n

After months of planning, weeks of grant writing, and days of organizing I was ready to start off on my summer experience. Only upon reaching the area I was to be working in for the rest of summer did I realize the enormity of the task I had gotten myself into.

I spent my summer in the Alice Creek Basin and on Wolf Creek Ranch, about an hour from Lincoln, Montana, setting up and moving around 30 cameras in a high severity burn area, and healthy unburned-growth forest. The Alice Creek fire burned over 20,000 acres of land in the summer of 2017. I was conducting my own original research focusing on wildlife presence in burned and unburned areas and how the areas compared to one another.

When I first arrived at Alice Creek I only had a faint idea what to except. If you’ve never been in a high severity burn site, the first time is quite a breathtaking experience. The area looked like something out of an apocalypse movie. The ground was pure black, with the skeletal toothpick remains of 30-40ft trees towering above head. Absolutely no green could be seen. The air was quiet and still, completely devoid of any life. The whole feeling was ethereal, like we were pioneers, the first life to set foot in the area after the fires had ravaged the basin the previous summer.39515360_1997903856897890_191056118309453824_n

We spent the rest of the day traversing up and down the steep slopes and ravines of the immense basin, placing cameras and conducting vegetation sampling as we went. It was hard work, and on that first day, a flicker of doubt crossed my mind multiple times. It’s always been a dream of mine to conduct my own research, but as more and more small problems arose, I contemplated if I had been too ambitious. Doubt was replaced by concern, and I feared that all my hard work to get to this point might have been for nothing. It was around this same time we came to the summit of the basin, after hours of nothing but uphill hiking we were finally at the top. As I stood overlooking the breathtaking view, my fears started to melt away. I had made it this far, over half of the cameras had been set up and there was no turning back. As in any type of research, problems will always arise, but now I was ready to face them. As I stood on the top of that mountain, I knew everything was going to be okay.

39515197_1100462303446004_5942042010830503936_n

Now the summer is coming to a close. Pretty soon I’ll be heading up to Alice Creek for the last time. The cameras will be collected, the data will be sorted, and I’ll start the next step in my research and start writing my paper. I had an amazing summer. My research, for the most part, went smoothly, I conquered my anxieties and reinforced the love I have for working in nature. Over the last couple of months I watched the Alice Creek Basin slowly transform. While scars left by the fire will remain for the next century, life is slowly returning. On my last visit the ground was carpeted with yellow glacial lilies and pink fireweed, rejuvenated by the nitrogen-rich soil. Birds were singing and surprisingly enough I found several nests tucked into overturned trees roots, the gaping mouths of newborn chicks staring at me. Although fire is destructive, it can be healthy for an ecosystem. While I was saddened by the loss of this once magnificent forest, I saw a poetic beauty in it. The fire wasn’t an end, as so much as it was a chance to start again.

M2E102L215-216R422B309

My Experience in Senator Tester’s Office

For my Beyond the Classroom experience, I had the opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C. in the Office of Senator Jon Tester. I started my internship with very brief knowledge about the legislative process and the operations of a legislative office. However, within a couple of weeks of intensive training, I have come to learn the vast amount of accountability that a legislative office owes its constituents.

Tester

One of the most exciting aspects of my internship was having the opportunity to conduct legislative research. On my first day, I got assigned to work with a legislative assistant who specializes in foreign affairs issues. For that reason, I’ve attended several Foreign Relations Committee hearings and completed some research on issues like the Russia investigation and U.S. tariffs. Specifically, I wrote a number of briefing memos about the updates on Special Counsel Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation, the dangerous effects of President Trump’s tariffs on Montana farmers, and President Trump’s recent Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I am glad that I had the opportunity to study and research issues that are currently causing extreme conflict in the global arena, as this relates to my Global Challenge. My Global Challenge focuses on reaching global cooperation, despite the fact that many nations experience intense political and cultural differences. Overall, this internship has provided me insight on how the U.S. approaches global issues through the legislative process.

Additionally, a large portion of my internship consisted of constituent work like logging correspondence, giving visitors tours of the Capitol building, and answering hundreds of phone calls. Constituent calls were difficult to handle at times due to several controversial issues and bills at the time. The most difficult part of my internship was probably dealing with angry callers who simply did not want to hear the Senator’s point of view at all. However, it was my job to assure constituents that their voices mattered and that I would definitely be relaying their messages to the Senator.

Through the process of logging constituent calls and letters, I also learned about the diverse perspectives of Montanans. Although the current population of Montana is just over one million, the political positions and perspectives of people in the state varies on such a grand scale. Because Montanans have such differing stances on political issues, I began to understand the benefits of being a “moderate” within politics like Senator Tester. Although the Senator does not always vote in a way that will appease all of his constituents, he values the voices of Montanans and tries his best to reflect those voices in Congress. Also, through learning more about the Senator’s tenure in Congress, I soon realized that he is willing to work across the aisle in a bipartisan way despite the current polarization in the U.S. political sphere. As my internship progressed, I started to appreciate the Senator’s ability to put aside partisanship in order to enact legislation and effectively do his job.

last day

On a broader scale, I feel as though my internship experience also contributed to the working of our democracy. One of the key components of a democracy is the guarantee that the voice and will of the people with be reflected in government. As an intern, I was the intermediary between the constituents and the Senator. For this reason, logging constituent calls was fundamental to ensuring that Montana voices are heard by the Senator and reflected in his decisions within Congress. Overall, I’ve learned so much about the legislative process during this experience and I am hopeful that it will help me become a more effective advocate in the American political system.

Taiwan: First Three Weeks part 1

Every country is considered to have their own culture that is composed by their beliefs, society, and ethnic group. With the opportunity to travel to four different countries in my life (Mexico, Thailand, China, and Canada), I have been able to firsthand experienced many different and unique cultures. I believe Taiwan, however, has been the most unique culture I have experienced so far.

 

For the last four weeks I have been studying Chinese at 國立成功大學(National Cheng Kung University) in Tainan through the Taiwan United-States Sister Alliance (TUSA) Global Ambassadors Scholarship program. I arrived in Taiwan on June 7th, a few days before the program began, and will depart on August 8th. The two-month Chinese learning program includes many cultural excursions and a very intensive workload. Every day I wake up at 8:00am to attend my two hour Chinese class and then attend a one-on-one drill session from 11:00-12:00pm where I speak solely in Mandarin.  Also twice a week, I meet up with my language partner for two hours to practice speaking and listening to Chinese. While the language partner helps me improve my Chinese, I help her improve her English. Along with nightly homework, I have two quizzes a week along with a 報告(presentation) at the end of every lesson. Each week we cover approximately one lesson, which consists of two dialogues, 4-5 sentence structures, and 30-40 new characters. Over the past four weeks, this program has allowed me to increase my ability to speak, listen, read, and write Chinese.

Even though the Chinese coursework is intensive, the TUSA program also takes us on three culture excursions. Besides arranged trips, I also had the opportunity to live with a host family for a weekend in Kaohsiung. I have also taken several different trips with my classmates. Each trip I have taken so far has been filled with new experiences and has opened my eyes to different ways of thinking or doing things.

 

The first weekend in July, the TUSA program took us to Pingtung to visit a rural area school where Taiwan indigenous people live. These indigenous people used to live on top of a mountain, but in 2009 typhoon Morakot, the deadliest typhoon to hit Taiwan, destroyed the villagers’ homes and forced them to move down the mountain and build a new life. Three tribes were displaced due to the typhoon and built their new homes at the bottom of the mountain in the same community as each other. This new sanctuary with multiple cultures meshed together created a charming village in the hills.

20180701_114614

Lilly Evergreen Elementary School principle showing us the outside classroom which shows the children the importance of nature and allows them to learn in a new environment

Our project in 屏東(Pingtung) was to teach English to middle-school students. My group, which had 5 people, was in charge of  12 kids from age 8 to 12. All but one of the kids we taught already had English names. The first time we met the kids we decided the best way to get to know them was to play games. Due to the language barrier, we played simple games that could easily be explained and played; we played multiple name games, including my personal favorite, the blanket game. Seeing the kids having fun and getting closer to us as time went by is something that motivates me to talk to more Taiwanese people. If I can connect with little kids through broken Chinese, I believe I should be able to express myself enough to hold a meaningful conversation with adults back in Tainan.

 

20180702_114805.jpg

Day one Morning Class; Lilly Evergreen Elementary School

Reading and writing English did not seem to present a problem to the kids; however, speaking seemed to be a challenged for everyone. I was very surprised to learn that most of the kids could write clear, fluent, and correct sentences. Just like a middle school student in America, these kids could write easy English sentences without any help, aside from the occasional questions on how to spell a word or two.

20180702_103529

One of my students introduction

After the kids wrote down their self introductions, we began teaching them how to say the sentences they had written down. My first student Kevin (intro pictures above) was the best English speaker of the entire class. He only struggled with some words such as volleyball, steak, and brother. Other than these few words, he was more confident in his speaking than in his spelling. For the other students, it was the opposite. They could write really well, but when it came time to speak, especially in front of a camera, they struggled. This is is not only understandable; it’s also expected. If you put me in front of a camera and told me to recite everything I just wrote in Chinese, I would become a deer in a headlight that doesn’t know a speck of Chinese. Only having a day and a half to learn, write, and speak a different language is very impressive and brave.

One of the most rewarding thing from this whole 屏東 (pingtung) trip was teaching the indigenous kids how to speak English and one of the most fulfilling parts was the chance to learn traditional Taiwanese culture through the eyes of a 8-12 year old. The experience I had wouldn’t have been possible without the TUSA program arranging the trip for us.

20180702_150105.jpg

A model of a traditional Taiwanese home made by the children attending Evergreen Lilly Elementary School

To be able to understand a culture better you can do many things such as travel that country, taking classes, and living there. However, I think that in order to understand a culture in depth you need to have some contact with children. Children are still mostly influenced by their parents and the schools they attend. They haven’t had the chance to explore the world and be influenced by other cultures, just like the kids in Evergreen Lilly Elementary school. These kids are in the mountains miles away from any big city so they are reliant on learning things from the people in their tribe. Also because the school is passionate about preserving the culture, they teach the kids about their tribe’s traditions in class. In addition, they provide projects (like the one pictured above) to teach them about their culture.

As I reflect on the beginning of the first three weeks in Taiwan, I realize that I have experienced and want to share more than I thought I would. Through the TUSA scholarship I was able to experience a elementary school attended by indigenous Taiwanese people. Through playing and teaching the kids, I also learned a lot about their culture. So far, I have experienced many new things, which has made this trip to Taiwan very unique.

Adventures in the Southwest

IMG_20180526_154043846

This is a remain of a kiva and room block built into the side of a cliff face in Grand Gulch in what was Bears Ears National Monument. You can’t see it here, but the area was littered with pottery sherds and flakes from the production of projectile points. There were also several remaining corn husks within the room blocks.

Over the course of past five weeks, I traded the cool, early summer air of Montana for the hot afternoons and cold evenings of the Colorado Plateau. For my out-of-classroom experience, I completed an archaeological field school under the direction of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, a nonprofit organization located right outside of Cortez, Colorado in the very southwestern corner of the state.

When deciding how to complete my out-of-classroom experience for FGLI that would fit into my selected theme of Natural Resources and Sustainability, I, at first, struggled with the idea of meshing my own studies of Biology and Anthropology into a framework that could incorporate methods of sustaining ecology, while at the same time working to sustain and restore cultural impacts that are often the effect of ecological degradation. For my case in particular, the clearest path for me to explore both cultural and ecological sustainability was to study past Puebloan peoples here in the United States.

Archaeologically speaking, the southwestern United States is significant in terms of the incredible preservation of artifacts and features (immovable indicators of human activity, i.e. hearths, architectural structures, etc.). The fact that so much has been so well preserved over the course of 1200+ years, has allowed archaeologists to gather a lot of data about the ancestors of living Puebloan peoples.

IMG_20180604_135925830

This is Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park. Many of the artifacts, ecofacts (corn cobs, potentially cacao beans, etc.), and even human remains were taken from this site in the early 20th century and are now mostly housed in a museum in Helsinki, Sweden.

 

In addition to just digging in the dirt, over the course of the past twenty to thirty years, archaeologists have changed and improved their methods of study to include consultation with descendant indigenous communities. Crow Canyon is unique in the fact that it was one of the first organizations the in the United States to put consultation at the forefront of their mission statements and methods of inquiry. This type of methodology in addition to legislation like that of the Native American Graves Protect and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990, that states human remains and sacred objects must be returned to their appropriate descendants for the purposes of reburial, can make the process of archaeological excavation in the United States very tricky and it encourages archaeologists to maintain a positive relationship with current indigenous communities.

Luckily, for over 30 years, Crow Canyon has maintained a positive relationship the Navajo and Ute nations in addition to many of the 23 recognized Pueblo descendant communities across the southwest. The positive effects of this relationship allowed us to visit many unexcavated sites on both the Navajo and Ute Mountain Ute reservations and discuss the indigenous interpretations of what we were finding with native scholars who would each stay, travel, and excavate with us for a week.

IMG_20180602_142452914

This is a ceremonial space, called a great kiva, located in the larger Pueblo Bonito structure in Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. When this structure was in use, the top would be covered with a roof of wood and adobe, people would sit along the two-tiered bench, and the floor vaults were most likely used to grow ceremonial plants.

It was such an amazing opportunity to learn from native scholars and to understand their perspectives of the work we do and how the field of archaeology will continue to grow and change. I think the most impactful part of my experience was the ability to see firsthand how important it is to protect the cultural heritage of these people and value descendant opinions rather than conduct research behind closed doors. I hope to incorporate this into my FGLI capstone project by understanding the indigenous communities are almost always the first to be affected by fluctuations in climate and understanding that consulting these communities is extremely important in the context of any kind of research or development.

IMG_20180620_145256338

This is our 4 meter by 8 meter excavation unit at the Haynie site on the last of the field school. We did all of our excavation at this site over the five weeks. We found lots of pottery sherds, lots of faunal bones, lots of flakes, a few projectile points, some potential wall fall from a structure, and what is most likely a hearth feature.

Wilderness and Civilization 2018

By Kyra Searcy

The opportunity to explore land use and perspectives in Montana through GLI happened to be through the intensive field course which gave me a minor in Wilderness Studies. This course occurred primarily during fall 2017 in the form of field trips between 1 and 10 days long, with a winter session art class, as well as an internship in a local water education organization, lecture series, and 4 day river course on the upper Missouri in the spring of 2018. This section of river is designated as wild and scenic, which nicely tied up the loose ends in understanding how land agencies manage across ownerships and policy changes. Throughout the year, our group was asked what we wanted to learn, and my classes were formed around those areas of focus. It gave us the chance to truly dive into things we cared about and ignore topics which we have already covered in other classes.

kyra3

Discussing Fire Regimes and interactions with homes/ people with Dave Campbell

My global theme is Natural Resources and Sustainability. The challenge was looking at resource management across land ownership in culturally rich places within Montana. Through my fall semester classes I was able to study these connections between historical land use to modern day land use through the lenses of ecology, policy, literature, art and discussion with leaders. We had amazing guest lecturers as well as professors who were experts in their fields. When we weren’t on campus, we traveled to a mine in Libby, a restoration site in the Mission Mountains Wilderness, a working ranch with conservation easements in Square Butte, the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Study Area, the Yaak Valley Forest Council, a working homestead, and the CSKT Government. They worked to connect the dots between disciplines so that we were able to address large multifaceted issues that land managers face today in Montana.

kyra4.jpg

The Turek Ranch and Conservation Easement, Square Butte Montana

One of the most interesting and important perspectives that we looked at while on our field studies were those of Native People in Montana. Tribes have a deep understanding of the ecology and history of the lands that white settlers such as myself have only the slightest knowledge of. These traditional and ecological understandings of place have informed my own value of establishing yourself in a location and truly learning about it before making decisions that will affect it. We live in an age where communication across a nation can happen in minutes, and a decision that is made in a faraway capital can in turn influence other nations decisions on land management. Because these discussions can happen so quickly between people very far away, place-based decision making can sometimes be less informed and more catered towards whatever interests’ get the ear of a politician. I never knew how difficult it is to lobby for an endangered species or to change policy in the Forest Service Manual. These changes are slow, while decisions higher up can happen quickly and completely alter the future of a place. My classmates and I felt strongly about supporting indigenous communities so we attended the Rally for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante Monuments in protest of President Trump’s decision to minimize and remove protections. After learning about large societal issues we wanted to actually act on one. This was one of the most powerful moments of my beyond the classroom experience by far. To be in the presence of various Tribal Elders coming together for the first time to protest the continuous neglect and assault of corporate and governmental interests on their sacred lands was something I will never forget. While we focused on small communities of native tribes, loggers, ranchers, miners, and wilderness rangers in Montana, I was simultaneously thinking about small groups across the world struggling to make decisions that benefit their local community while also benefiting the global one. I found it ironic that in an age of increased access to communication, we aren’t getting the word out about some of the issues in the wildest of habitats in Montana. It made me want to focus more on collaboration between agencies, organizations, local people and foundations which have ties to politics. We were able to see some collaborative groups and understand their struggles and triumphs which seemed really optimistic in the current political climate for land management. The most valuable thing that we can do in a time as tricky as this is to work together and draw upon our diversity of perspectives and understanding to make decisions that influence a generation of land stewards who are connected to the land and confident on their role in it. I am truly grateful to take all of these points with me into my career as a Conservationist.

Animal Rights in Veterinary Medicine

Unlike most of my colleagues, I chose not to study abroad for my Beyond the Classroom experience. Instead, I stayed here in Missoula and was fortunate enough to get an internship at Eastgate Veterinary Clinic. Eastgate Veterinary Clinic is truly unique in that it is run by a single veterinarian, Dr. Klietz, who not only treats dogs and cats but exotic animals as well. Having exotic animals on a regular basis meant that there was always something interesting going on in this clinic whether Dr. Klietz was diagnosing a torn acl or trimming the beaks of a parrot, I was always kept on my toes. In just the first week of my internship I was given the opportunity to learn how to properly hold a ferret as well as a parrot. While at Eastgate Veterinary Clinic I developed hands on skills such as handling exotic species, improved my knowledge of diagnosing and treating animals, and the importance of customer service.

19452923_1474205842602749_1511574559073240521_o

For my global theme of social inequality and human rights, I focused on promoting and spreading education awareness of animal rights. Luckily I was able to do this on a regular basis through customer service. Customer service at Eastgate involved doing call backs, checking clients in, listening to client’s issues, and getting to know your clients personally. Talking to clients on a regular basis gave me many opportunities to discuss how they felt about their pet’s worth outside of their usefulness towards the owners. For the most part many people stated that they would do anything for their pet to live a life without pain or suffering. However, once money was involved a lot of these individuals’ values changed. Many clients refused the best treatment for their pet and some would even walk out of the clinic without getting any treatment regardless of their pet’s condition. Dr. Klietz informed me after some time that this is a constant battle for veterinarians to deal with but he had a great solution for these situations. Over the next few days after a client had left the clinic, Dr. Klietz would have other staff members and I do call backs and try to get the animal the care it needs. The goal of these callbacks was to find common values with the owners in relation to how important their pet is to them then urge the owner to reconsider any treatment that would help their pet. Doing these types of tasks made me question if a common ground will ever be met between an animal’s life or money.

My beyond the classroom experience has immensely pushed my leadership goals. Working in a clinic with a single doctor, it is imperative that you do your tasks right every time. This stress helped push me to be more confident as an individual as well as a leader. In addition, customer service has given me insight on the broad spectrum of concerns clients and people go through on a daily basis and helped me develop higher standards in regards to building relationships and listening to others. I cannot thank Dr. Klietz and his staff enough for the amazing opportunity they have given me.

19452863_1474207762602557_3427508713360336204_o