By Vatosoa Raharinosy, Madagascar
The preamble of Montana says ,‘We, the people of Montana, grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our State…’. I would also say, ‘we, the SUSI scholars 2016, grateful to God for being selected to follow such an intensive but enjoyable training with a lot of discoveries about American culture, history….. We are so lucky to spend our summer in a place with an impressive and green landscape surrounded by huge mountains, called Montana.
Great amazement, new knowledge, relaxing time, interesting lectures, meeting and sharing with other scholars from twenty different countries, and so on…,all of these facts surely affect our views and open our minds on things which have been formerly taken for granted, or which have been considered in a different way.
The trip to Helena was like another window which allowed us to see and know more about Montana. The visit of Montana History Museum was one of my favorite. I learnt things about Montana history. Now, I understand the importance of the Native Americans in the history of Montana and Western America itself. When I was young, I delighted in watching films or reading cartoons about cowboys and Indian Americans fighting. What mattered at that time was the characters and the end of the story without understanding any root of their history and land. Today, I learnt a lot. How amazed I was when I discovered that the Native Americans occupied the land 12,500 years ago and that horses were not part of their original culture but part of new things brought by the Spanish towards 1720s. Gold rush, then silver and copper rushes played a great influence in land occupation and habitation of Montana. I am happy I to discover things about you, Montana!
The visit of the Museum allowed us to admire Charlie Russell’s paintings. Charlie Russell is qualified as ’Montana famous cowboy Artist’. The romantic depiction of events and scenery in his paintings delighted me as well. His vivid paintings would take any visitors directly into the time of history. I could sense some pride or fierceness in some pictures, friendliness or treachery in others, and the life style of the Native Indians was wonderful in his paintings …He deserves his fame.
I can’t wait for the time when SUSI scholars will visit the Flathead Indian reservation. I would like to know more about their life and history. Besides, I quite agree with the Montana office of Public Instruction in giving importance to the inclusion of ‘Indian Education for All’ Native Americans history and culture, which should not be departed from the Montanans’ history.
My happiness continued when we talked to people at the Montana OPI (Montana Office of Public Instruction). They provide professional development resources. They provide online empowerment for teachers. They will allow us to benefit from their online training. I really need it as we do not have enough resourcing and in-service training in my country. I can share to my fellow teachers as well I think.
Another completely different thing I discover about teaching in America is the curriculum designing. Diversity in a unity that is how I would qualify the fact that no entity imposes any restriction about curriculum designing for all schools in Montana. As far as I understand, curriculum designing lies on the hand of each school itself. Neither the Education Policy advisor to the Governor, nor the MEA-MFT (Montana Education Association and Montana Federation of Teachers), nor the Montana Office of Public Instruction interfere in curriculum designing though they have diverse roles in education. I may be wrong but I think I can interpret that as part of people’s liberty. Liberty to consider what is good for their kids according to where they live.
Finally, I will surely miss the enjoyable life style I see in Missoula and Helena. Going out with friends and family in the evening, chatting here and there, eating and listening to good music in the open air, I like that. People have a peaceful and sociable life. I will surely reminisce it when I come back to my country.