The National Sport of Protesting*

*Must Be Played by the Rules

While speaking about the ins and outs of French culture in a humming lecture hall, my jovial young professor quipped to our class about how, “in France, protesting is a national sport.” Everyone laughed at the embellishment, including myself. Despite my understanding that the culture and politics of a nation are inherently intertwined, I didn’t quite realize just how true this sentiment would prove to be in the coming weeks.

The left bank of the Saône River in Lyon

I had arrived at my host institution, Université Jean Moulin in Lyon, France in the hottest time of year—August. As the weeks rolled on and the streets cooled down, I found myself drawn to the cobblestoned city center more often, intrigued by the intricate architecture, impeccable fashion, and especially the open air markets brimming with fresh produce, spices, flowers, bread, art, and more. I would often download a podcast or two and head into the centre ville to wander around and soak up my new home; many of these strolls were enchantingly uneventful, but I distinctly recall the first time I was downtown on a Saturday. I had just picked up a load of fresh fruit and was rounding the corner near a town square when I was met with a wall of angry voices. My immediate reaction was that I had come face to face with a street fight, but I quickly realized that the river of people in front of me were not fighting not against but with each other. I stood petrified until the last of the hundreds (if not thousands) of chanting citizens passed me by. Though my shock never truly went away, I actually ended up running into many more protests throughout my year in Lyon; no matter what French city we were in, Saturdays proved to be the day to protest. Recalling what my professor had said at the beginning of the year, my interest in the importance of dissent in French culture was piqued. 

The Saturday morning market in my neighborhood (Montchat)

In the United States, protesting is often regarded as a partisan activity that makes headlines for a few days or even weeks, but rarely results in tangible action, especially new policy. In France, however, protests can last for weeks or even months, and organizers behind the cause typically galvanize members of the public rather than alienating them. Moreover, the French parliament is filled with a dozen major political parties (the most popular of the 453 registered parties in the country), which gives more incentive for party leaders to listen to their constituents in order to gain political power. This merging of protesters, public, and parliament often results in widespread government concessions; one example we learned about was when fishermen blockaded the Port of Calais after the E.U. placed new limits on their industry, leading to a $66 million government payout. 

Not even rain could stop this protest in the small town of Vienne, France

Even though demonstrating in the streets were an incredibly common (and even revered) French pastime, I noticed a distinct lack of dissent within the French classroom. I struggled with the antiquated model of teaching used by Jean Moulin, wherein professors were seen as the ultimate authority on a subject, and class consisted of hundreds of students who robotically transcribed every word of every lecture. Questions were discouraged, and discussion was almost unheard of. As someone whose leadership and learning styles thrive in a collaborative environment, I struggled to adapt my proficiencies to this new environment. I found myself engaging in many internal disputes to keep my inquisitive side satisfied, but it was quite difficult to remain reticent during some of my more interesting courses, especially when I disagreed with the lecturer.

One of the many soliloquies (classes) I attended

Traveling elsewhere showcased the variety of manners in which a constituency can rebel against its leadership. For instance, a weekend trip to Djerba, Tunisia, offered up no evidence of the popular hatred of the current president, which has made headlines since January of this year. Instead, the streets were eerily quiet, to a point that perturbed my companions and I. We asked our AirBnb host why this was the case, and he responded by saying that the majority of his fellow Djerbians “prefer to keep their political opinions inside, both inside their persons and their homes. Only those in the capital are arrogant enough to yell openly.” 

My time in Lyon reaffirmed the close relationship a country’s political fabric has with its culture, but also made me realize how nuanced this consanguinity can be. In Tunisia, vibrant ‘nationwide’ protests may in fact be contained within just one city, though sentiments of dissent may be shared by citizens across the land. And in France, protesting may be a national sport, but one must play by the rules, which include keeping resistance to the street (and not within, say, a classroom). 

Picnicking in the foreground of the Vienne protest

Caroline Kane- Out of Classroom Experience Summer 2022

My Beyond the Classroom experience was truly one of the most impactful experiences I have had as an undergrad. I spent my summer at the Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS) where I took three upper division ecology courses, Conservation Ecology, Landscape Ecology, and Alpine Ecology. These classes were field-based, meaning we spent 4 out of 5 weekdays in the field, usually Glacier National Park, learning about the ecosystems and the efforts in place to conserve them. My global theme for GLI is natural resources and sustainability, a theme in which these classes fit very well. These field-based courses had running themes of conservation, ethics, natural resources, and human impacts on the environment.

These courses taught me a lot about the methodology in the field sciences and helped me experience hands-on the profound impacts that humans are creating that are fundamentally altering these fragile ecosystems.  For me, it also brought up a lot of questions surrounding the grassroots style of environmental activism and what we can do right now to face these wicked problems head-on. Specifically, I learned about the Citizen Science program in Glacier National Park, which is a scientific program that engages the public to gather data and information. This program is an excellent example of something here and now that people can engage with to make a difference.

Being able to spend so much time in the outdoors camping, swimming, and hiking helped to instill the importance of protecting our wild places and solidifies the need to do everything in our power to maintain our beautiful state. One specific experience we had was hiking Pitamakan Pass in Glacier. From the top, there are 360-degree views of mountain tops and valleys dotted with lakes and streams. Being able to see so far in every direction was insane. On the pass, there is a special type of fossil called stromatolites (see below). These are 1.4-billion-year-old fossils that detail the first signs of life on our planet. Looking at these in person was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, as they are the oldest known fossil! They were also a humbling reminder of looking back into time before humans walked the earth and how life has evolved so very far. It was also a reminder of the ecosystems and organisms that existed so long before humans and made me reflect on the ways that humans have impacted places like Glacier National Park.

My Summer GLI Experience with Sustainable Agriculture

This summer I was given the opportunity to participate in ongoing research surrounding sustainable agriculture. With the GLI theme of natural resources and sustainability this internship gave me a lot of great insight into the role that sustainable agriculture is going to play in our changing world. My experience took place in and around Fort Collins, CO. through Colorado State University’s AgNext group. This group focuses on bringing cooperate agriculture, academia, and local ranchers closer together to find plausible solutions to decreasing the amount of methane and cardon dioxide emissions seen in modern agriculture.

Although agriculture continues to receive a lot of criticism from outside sources one thing I learned while I was there is that local farmers/ranchers have a different definition of sustainability than the media does. What I learned is that for these farmers and ranchers view sustainability as whatever is going to keep them producing into the next year. This means that the solutions that AgNext is coming up with has to give them the bang for their buck or they most likely will not participate. From a cooperate perspective “sustainability” has become a buzz word that businesses use to get the consumer to feel good about investing in their product. For AgNext this means ensuring that what corporations are putting out into the media is actually what they are doing behind the scenes. Before this internship I looked at sustainability more from a natural resource perspective, but after this internship I realized that there a lot of different definitions for this word and while they all ultimately have the same goal, the execution is going to be different.

Boris the research steer chilling in the Diamond V pen where we were studying the use of feed additives on methane emissions.

One of the things I am most grateful for from this internship is the opportunities they gave me to grow as a leader. All of the research I was helping on was being conduced by grad students. I was able to work on a wide variety of projects including studies with Merck Animal Health, Diamond V, and USDA-ARS. My internship gave me a lot of autonomy and room to voice my own ideas about how we could solve problems that we ended up running into with some of these projects. The grad students made it feel like an actual team and were always available if I ever had any questions. Overall, this internship made me a lot better at asking clarifying questions and be willing to not always have the final say in how things were going to go. I also learned a lot of problem solving skills, since a lot of the technology that we were using to measure methane emissions were very high tech and on the newer end of development.

Steer using Greenfeed to measure individual animals methane emissions at USDA-ARS study site in Nunn, CO.
Me opening the computer in the Greenfeed system to diagnose a problem. This Greenfeed is from the first generation of Greenfeeds produced by C-Lock about 10 years ago, so in many respects it is a dinosaur and requires a lot of extra attention.

If you would like to learn more about AgNext and the research that they are doing please feel free to visit their website, Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to learn more about C-Lock system visit there website. All linked below.

Facebook: @CSUAgNext

Twitter: @CSUAgNext

AgNext Website: https://agnext.colostate.edu/

C-Lock: https://www.c-lockinc.com/

Alaska Dive Semester

My global challenge is studying the conservation of native fisheries, specifically anadromous species. I have a strong connection to the chinook salmon, sockeye, and steelhead runs that spawn in the rivers and streams around my hometown, Salmon ID. This is the longest salmon migration in the world, and these populations are in peril from both habitat loss and passage barriers along their migration corridor. I have studied these issues in their spawning grounds of the upper Salmon River watershed, and I wanted to extend my experience to the ocean. In spring semester of 2022, I attended a program called the Alaska Dive Semester that is offered by the University of Alaska SE and is based in the coastal community of Sitka. This unique program provides a small cohort of 15 students with the opportunity to earn an Occupational Endorsement Certificate in Scientific Diving that includes certifications in rescue and cold-water dry suit diving, a small vessel operator license, and a scientific diving internship. It sounded like the perfect opportunity to live in an ecologically rich fisheries hub while gaining experience in field techniques and diving.

The Alaska Dive Semester was the most eye-opening, learning intensive, and physically demanding four months of my life. Having never scuba dove before, within the first two weeks (mid-January) I was diving in a dry suit in 34-degree Fahrenheit water in the Sitka Sound. By the first month, I could perform rescue procedures for diving accidents or cold-water exposure emergencies and was certified in providing oxygen and CPR through the Diver’s Alert Network. By the second month I was learning underwater data collection techniques, identifying marine invertebrates and fish, and using technical equipment like lift bags to deploy heavy ocean exploration instruments. By the end of the semester, my classmates and I were making our own dive plans and float plans to complete our scientific diving internship. We designed and carried out transects in Macrocystis Kelp forests to determine ecological community structures and sampled for Didemnum vexillum, an invasive tunicate species.

The skiff handling and outboard maintenance experience I gained from the program made it possible for me to stay in Alaska for the summer and work as a fisheries technician on sockeye and chum salmon runs in Yakutat, AK and Juneau, AK. Salmon fishing is a pillar of life in southeast Alaska, so I was able to see firsthand the impact of the fisheries on the local economy and culture. I learned that the Tongass National Forest is intrinsically tied to the health of salmon runs. From diving all semester, I saw how important marine habitat is for anadromous fish to carry out their life cycle, and then witnessed during my summer work how marine health effects escapement rates in freshwater systems. These fish are a keystone species to say the least.

Aside from the invaluable skills I learned and the understanding I gained for Alaska fisheries; I also had a blast diving in arguably the world’s best cold-water diving location. Some dives I would descend when it was snowing and ascend to sunshine. I saw a variety of sea life including sea otters, Pacific octopus, wolf eels, nudibranchs, rockfish and greenlings, herring, and sunflower stars. I had a few close encounters with 900-pound sea lions and went on frigid night dives to see the water lit up with bioluminescence. I drove skiffs in rough sea conditions, backcountry skied on my time off, watched humpback whales bubble net feed, and learned about the indigenous Tlingit and Haida tribes’ history in the area and current subsistence practices. It was a life changing experience, and I plan on returning in the future.

Yes COVID – And , the travel bug

If the travel bug were real, I’d be infested. And I’m sure I caught it the moment I stepped off the plane in Lyon, France where I would spend the past year studying international politics and French literature. 

I joined the sizable cohort of international students at Université Jean Moulin in Lyon during the turbulent COVID pandemic, when the existence of such a program was under stress from a myriad of health and safety concerns. I think there’s interest in the idea that two very different viruses — COVID (real) and the travel bug (not real) — would exist in the same plane for me during that year. 

The lens through which COVID asked that I perceived the world revealed so much about my global theme and challenge. In fact, it really redefined culture and politics by putting them into quotidian terms. For instance, the diversity of cultures within Europe, already a small sliver of global diversity, insists that culture isn’t an abstraction to be experienced for a few months by airplane, but instead a lens through which we define our own existence. At the risk of getting too metaphysical, I realized while abroad that a theme like culture and politics is more about how we name the world than it is about what that world superficially looks like. 

The guiding principal for me right now is a ‘Yes – And’ : it’s the idea that two things can be true at once, and that there’s always a third truth next to them. 

Naming the world for me began at the academic level. I sat among French students in classes on topics ranging from fundamental rights and liberties in European courts to medieval poetry in early France to the geomorphology of water-based landscapes in the time of climate change. Diversity is a word that comes up a lot when we talk about culture, and it certainly applies to academic culture as well as social culture. This diverse set of subjects affirms that the perspectives with which I approach my degrees are not mutually exclusive. I can look at the world from both a cultural and a political stance, from both a literary and a scientific stance, or from both a pragmatic and an abstract stance. Understanding academics in this way indicates that nothing exists in isolation, and that interdependence is the defining quality of global culture. 

Naming the world continued and found its peak impact for me while travelling. This is where diversity in the classic sense returns, as I started to think of seemingly distinct countries like Finland, Tunisia, Malta, and so many others in terms of their interdependence. Oftentimes, though, I’ve been surprised by how pervasive that interdependence can be. In an example, a pastry vendor in Marrakech, Morocco, related to my travel friends and I that he used to work in the tourism industry, directing visitors to popular attractions around this part of north-western Africa. During COVID, when travel declined, that business practically dried up. In order to remain economically afloat, he pivoted to baking as a (hopefully) temporary position to support his family. It’s startling that we all experienced the COVID pandemic in very diverse ways, but more importantly that our personal privileges dictated how severely we were each impacted.

More profoundly, the way we each pivot during stressful moments is so indicative of how we have learned to name the world. It’s overly simplistic, but I like the sentiment that we are all just piles of organs trying to make correct decisions.

As I transition back into a more ‘stationary’ education here at UM, I continue to think about the uniqueness of those two viruses existing simultaneously. The globe is stocked with ‘Yes – And’s. I hope that I can let multiple truths exist together, and that I can let them guide my evolutive naming of the world. 

Administrative Intern for Senator Grassley in Washington D.C.

This summer I was an Administrative Intern for Senator Grassley in his Washington D.C. office. Working in the U.S. Capital for one of the most senior influential senators was an amazing experience. I gained valuable experience developing knowledge of my theme of Culture and Politics specifically addressing the challenge of how to move beyond political polarization and gridlock. Senator Grassley prides himself as a bipartisan leader throughout his years of public service. Working on the Hill gave me insight as to how legislation is passed and its effects on not just American constituents but foreign relations as well. 

Working on the Hill this summer among the brightest minds of the nation gave me valuable insight into the fast-paced culture that is required to make it in the political world and make an influential impact. I did not expect the offices to be composed of young professionals not too much older than myself. This realization gave me a newfound sense of confidence and excitement to think that one day I could be working and making an impact on a federal level. The fast-paced culture I referred to is seen as young professionals come into entry level positions and quickly either thrive or find out quickly that the Hill is not the right path for them. 

In my position, I worked a lot with constituents appeasing their concerns and requests. This experience allowed me to see constituents’ reactions to legislation passed during my time there such as the PACT Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. I also had the privilege to accompany the Senator on both television and radio interviews. As the Senator is coming into an election year, the importance of the media and its portrayal of their work is emphasized as I saw senators vote in a surprising way to ensure their constituents’ approval. 

Memorable accounts during my time in D.C. would include the conversations I had with Senator Grassley. He was incredibly gracious and kind as he went out of his way to get to know us interns, which is something many senators do not do. We had many conversations about Montana, which he was very fond of, having spent time on a ranch years back. He took us to breakfast and on a tour of the Senate Floor showing us incredible things such as the historic desks with names etched from previous senators in those seats. 

With the support of the Franke Global Leadership Fellowship, I was able to gain leadership skills working in a political office communicating and networking with influential leaders of our country.

The Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool at sunset
The United States Capital Building

Interning in Washington D.C.

This summer I interned in Washington D.C. for Senator Bennet from Colorado, with a focus on my global theme: Culture and Politics. 

Interning in the Senate was an incredible, eye-opening experience. Every day I felt like I left having learned something new. For the internship, I was assigned to both Senator Bennet’s foreign policy and natural resources/ energy teams. Part of my role consisted of attending briefings and committee hearings for the team so they could then better advise the Senator. These briefings and hearings were incredible learning opportunities as they often covered complex, minute policy issues that were not covered in the news. For instance, at one of the Energy and Natural Resource committee hearings the Senators had a bipartisan discussion with panelists from across the nation about how to further reduce the potential for leaks from Liquified Natural Gas storage tanks. The briefings were particularly interesting because they featured top experts from fields ranging from cryptocurrency to food waste who gave in-depth explanations of the major policy struggles facing the U.S. in the coming years. 

Although I did not expect it, I found the work I did for the foreign affairs team to be the most interesting part of the internship. Assisting Bennet’s foreign affairs team provided a whole new education on how the U.S. interacts with other nations and how foreign policy has evolved in recent years. The area I was mainly assigned to focus on was supply chains, and it was interesting to see how complex supply chains truly are and to learn about all the different considerations policymakers take into consideration when attempting to organize a supply chain. It was also interesting to see how combatting and reversing the rise of China provided a bipartisan organizing principle that seemed to underlay every foreign policy briefing and committee hearing.

Beyond the internship, living in DC alone provided an incredible learning experience. The city was more diverse in every way possible than anything I had ever experienced before and it provided an opportunity to learn about new cultures and go to events that I hadn’t been exposed to previously. For instance, on the National Mall, the Smithsonian held various cultural events, and one event featured a group of Omanis talking about the struggles of preserving their culinary traditions while living in a foreign country and urban environment.

The internship was a remarkable learning experience. It opened my eyes to a whole new world and taught me how to excel in an entirely different environment. Over the course of the internship my personal, as well as professional skills, were strengthened. I gained newfound confidence in myself and became more sure in my leadership skills.

Interning for the health & happiness of all

In addition to its threat to societal growth and harmony, social inequality can arise in medicine when prejudice is tolerated in healthcare settings or certain people are denied the opportunity to achieve their best health. I have always felt strongly about the injustice of treating others with prejudice and the unequal allocation of opportunities to certain members of society. For this reason, I chose social inequality and human rights as my GLI Global Theme and Challenge. Through my internship at Mountain States Diabetes Clinic, I ensured that all patients felt equally cared for and respected. 

In the summer of 2021 I began my internship at Mountain States Diabetes Clinic. As an intern for Dr. Miller, my main responsibilities included drawing blood, patient intake, and collection and documentation of vital signs. We mostly saw patients in her clinic, but there were times when I joined her for a home visit or met her at a clinic in Hamilton, where she sees patients that live in the Bitterroot Valley. I have experience working as a phlebotomist and nurse assistant, so I felt pretty comfortable with certain tasks, such as vitals signs and lab draws. Even so, I gained an extensive amount of knowledge and experience that is undeniably valuable. 

Possibly the most beneficial experience that came from my internship was connecting with and learning from patients who are veterans and patients with diabetes. At the hospital, I come across these patients often, but I was never able to talk with them for long or learn more about their lives and diagnoses. At Dr. Miller’s clinic, certain days were dedicated to veteran exams. I was able to room these patients, collect their vital signs, and draw their blood. Many veterans shared their experiences with me, allowing me to reflect on the hidden trauma of people around us and the importance of being kind and sensitive to all. It is always a challenge to listen to a person’s pain and determine the best way to respond, but I have found that the more patients I listen to, the better I am at being an active, comforting listener. Furthermore, the clinic’s focus on diabetes care allowed me to learn about common medications, specific medical knowledge, and practice new skills, such as collecting and processing an A1C blood sample. 

Learning from Dr. Miller and helping to care for her patients was an experience I will always hold dear to my heart. Dr. Miller is the best doctor I know and I can sincerely say I look up to her in every way. My excitement to start physician assistant school continues to grow because of my work at Mountain States Diabetes and the reassurance that my educators could be as caring and supportive as Hayley Miller. This internship has made me a better caregiver, student, and future physician assistant, and words cannot fully express how grateful I am for that. 

Remote Accounting/IT Internship

This summer I was an intern for KPMG’s Los Angeles office, remote from Missoula, Montana. I was operating primarily in the Governance and Risk Compliance practice, but I also got exposure to the Application Security and Controls practice by working through their spreadsheets on a semi-regular basis. Being fully remote, technology played a critical role in my internship. I would get on my laptop in the morning and work independently and with peers via Microsoft Teams for the full day. Being a part of the Technology and Society GLI theme, I enjoyed this experience very much simply by looking at the work from the perspective of a GLI student instead of an intern. The work I was doing focused heavily on technology, and how to use tech to make business processes more efficient. I learned a lot about how major enterprises manage and organize all of their resources online, and saw how people are affected by modern technology on an individual scale. 

The culture of Los Angeles may be vastly different than what I am accustomed to growing up in Montana, but I really didn’t have any problems finding my way in the internship. I think that company policies and virtual connection puts everyone on a similar playing field, since nobody has too much of a disadvantage by being located elsewhere. This made it easy for me to find opportunities as a leader, since I could step into a leadership position with people from all over the country. At one point in the experience, we grouped up with several interns from different offices and practices, and came up with plans to help the environment on a corporate level. I ended up being the lead of our group, and was able to assign slides and roles to each person in our team. Even with all of us on a Teams call, we delivered a fully-prepared PowerPoint presentation with a strong plan of action. Everyone had a part to play, and the whole team had fun working on the project together. 

A lot of the job this summer was training, since KPMG would like interns to come back as full-time associates. I have since accepted a full-time offer from the firm, and plan to move to Los Angeles after I graduate in May of 2023. I had a great experience and learned a lot about the functions of major corporations that I didn’t know before. I believe that technology is going to be integral in solving a lot of worldwide problems in the future, but there are many perspectives throughout different societies that need to be taken into account. I look forward to working for KPMG after my time at the University of Montana, and the GLI program provided me with a great set of leadership skills and varied perspectives to take with me into this internship experience.

Barcelona, Spain – New Perspective on Work-Life Balance

This summer I interned for a venture capitalist called Bcombinator located in Barcelona, Spain as a data analyst. 

Spain is a beautiful country with a unique culture full of rich history. Living in Barcelona for the entirety of the summer I learned how to adapt to my surroundings. Among all the ways in which I assimilated into Spain the most difficult cultural aspect for me to adopt was the lifestyle pace. I don’t feel comfortable generalizing the entire population of Spain based solely on my experience but while I was there I saw strong importance placed on immediate relationships. Any stress that is put on a relationship due to work is out of the question. 

Prioritizing immediate relationships over career success is quite contrary to the competitive work culture in the United States. For as long as I can remember I have always strived to be the best. Whether that meant climbing to a higher branch than my older brother or collecting the most donations for a fundraising event. There’s a part of me that always desires to outshine everyone else. 

Towards the end of my internship, I made a trip to Granada, Spain to visit a friend I had made last semester at UM. Pablo was born and raised in Granada and came to UM to continue his studies. Living in his household for the two nights I was in Granada gifted me a new perspective of how beautifully simple life can be when it is centered around family. This way of life is a transformation I am consciously working at implementing. 

On a different note, my GLI global theme and challenge is Technology and Society. After interning for Bcombinator I learned that there is a lot of uncaptured value in organizations due to the repeatable tasks that are left unautomated. The longevity of any type/size of an organization is contingent on having a tech-savvy person take robotic processes out of employees’ job responsibilities to draw out their humanistic characteristic of creativity. It was rewarding to do this at Bcombinator and become an asset to the organization.

Pablo and I at Alhambra in Granada
National Art Museum of Catalonia
Boat Cruise in Valencia