YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: ENJOYING WILDLIFE AND NATURE

By Ana Martin, Panama

 

Yellowstone is the first National Park in United States, located between Montana and Idaho, and it has a variety of species like grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elks; is also very popular because of its geysers and hot springs.

During our first day in the park we visited Lamar Valley to observe part of the wildlife, when we took a lot of pictures of bison and deer, and we also saw how they interact with the environment. I was surprised because the visitors respect the distance between them and the wild animals, and they did not interfere with their natural habitat.

We also visited Norris Geyser Basin, with many impressive geysers showing volcanic activity and colorful hot springs, containing thousands of cyanobacterias changing the water colors.

Our last stop on the first day was in the Grand Canyon, with a lot of amazing views to the Yellowstone River Falls, from which it takes its historical name, admiring the different geological shapes around the falls. An interesting fact from this stop was that several American citizens enjoy this place with their families; a lot of kids were playing around the park area and they share this experience with their parents. A lot of Asians also visited the Grand Canyon, where Americans seem to be very respectful with foreign people, demonstrating that they accept and integrate the multicultural visitors that the park has.

This experience helps me to reflect about conservation of wildlife and natural resources, and I really admire how American citizens take care of their natural resources and how they make conscience about conservation. Thanks to this they have been preserving this national natural wonder, making it one of the most beautiful parks around the world.

DANCES WITH WOLVES

By Céline Dartigues

Julie-Victoire Daubié High School, Argenteuil, France.

 

When I first read Ms. Liza Macki, an instructor and administrator for Ecology Project International, would provide us with opportunities to learn more about the wolves in Yellowstone National Park, I pictured myself as the new John Dunbar befriending “Two Socks”.

Wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone is still a controversial issue which triggers either hatred or love among people since they hunt sheep, cows and elks. There is no middle ground! As you may guess it, I am fascinated by these wild predators which roam the Western prairies. I was stunned when Liz told us that from 1926 to 1989, no wolves could be seen in the U.S. Although the park had been created in 1872 and wolves had been listed in the 1969 Endangered Species Act, it was not until the end of the eighties that a plan was set. As the species had entirely disappeared, wolves were brought from Canada between 1995-1997 – if you listen closely, you may hear some have a slight French howling … Thanks to rangers and wolf lovers, between 400 and 500 wolves are found in the park. Yet, the situation is far from being trouble free. Indeed, states provide licence to hunt them considering they are now too numerous. Consequently, wildlife organisations fight to protect these animals.

 

06 Female or the Angelina Jolie of wolves

Then Liz told us the story of 06 Female also known as the Angelina Jolie of wolves in Yellowstone. I couldn’t believe my ears while Liz was describing her legendary life. Angie who was born in 2006 ( i.e. ’06), was drop-dead gorgeous. Her grey coat and athletic size made her irresistible. Unlike most females, she didn’t seem to worry about finding a mate and having puppies. Later, she decided to dump her five suitors and leave the pack; if the Spice Girls still existed, I bet they would write a song about her: She-Wolf Power! 06 could afford such a behavior because she was a natural born huntress. While most groups size for hunting was four, 06 could take an elk down on her own! When she was 6 years old- which is quite old for a wolf – , she encountered two brothers, 754 and 755, with whom she mated. However, what astonished me the most, was to hear that the two males would take care of the puppies while she was hunting. She leaded successfully her pack until 754 and her, one week later, were shot. They were out of the park and the hunter had a permit, no tag was needed! Nevertheless, her shooting has relaunched the debate about licence. This story brought tears to my eyes …

 

Hunting wolves at dawn

The following day, we woke up at 3.30 a.m. to observe the wolves, more precisely the ones living in the Lamar Valley, where 06 lived. Despite the rain and the cold, we spent long minutes trying to spot them. I was able to see the den entrance but not lucky enough to spot one of them. Perttu, my Finish “friend,” got a glimpse at a grey one. Well, I guess I will have to come back another time!

This experience was amazing. I teach environmental issues and endangered species to Sophomores. Guess what? 06 and the Yellowstone experience will definitively have a prominent place in this unit. Thank you SUSI.

When Education, Democracy, and Ecology Meet

By Sandi Ferdiansyah, Indonesia

 

There were four different interesting sessions that SUSI scholars and I learned today. The first session was about Curriculum Development Workshop delivered by Dr. Andrea Lawrence. She discussed the historical thinking approach for teaching history. This approach engaged us actively to learn a particular material of history. Through visual images as primary sources and collaborative learning, we were encouraged to activate navigating and viewing skill to find secondary sources of the case. In addition, she asked us to examine the case in pair which fosters effective group discussion.

Sandi

After lunch break Mr. Daniel Kemmis talked about Community and the Politics of Place. He had ample experience as politician and public service which made him competent to explore the idea of a meaningful democracy. He argued that the implementation of democracy of a country depends on two critical things, namely education and awareness. Education plays an important role to create good citizenship which makes people become problem solver rather than trouble maker. Furthermore, people will be able to develop their awareness of democracy if they are willing to pay attention and become good listeners.

Sandi2

The third session of the day was about Wilderness and American Land Ethic. In this session, Dr. Alan Watson explored the nature of wilderness conceptualized by Aldo Leopold’s theory. The concept of wilderness has put a great emphasis on land conservation and preservation. Wilderness in the United States was established through a long process from 1929 to 1964 which came up with the wilderness act. Compared to the idea of national park, wilderness upholds more ethical values than economic values. Meanwhile, the American Land Ethic proposes the idea on how to love and respect land resources that play important role in sustaining the life of the whole living creatures in earth.

At the end of the day, Ms. Lisa Macki presented the Ecology Project International and Place Based Education. She explained that Ecology Project International was a non-profit organization which is aimed to build student’s knowledge, competency, and attitude toward ecology. She also showcased the implementation of placed based education which incorporates the perspective of constructivism. From this perspective, the participants were invited to build background knowledge of the field, experience the study, and conduct learning reflection.

Sandi3

From today’s session, I learned three important lessons. First, I believe that historical thinking as a learning approach is effective to foster students’ critical thinking and learning autonomy. Secondly, I learn that education and good citizenship become two fundamental components in creating meaningful democracy. And Finally, I am convinced that wilderness, land ethic, and education on ecology are beneficial for future generations to sustain the environment.

Lovely Moments During My Homestay!

By Mukadas Tashieva, Kyrgyzstan

 

After the visiting Montana Museum in Helena, where SUSI participants could learn about Native Americans lifestyle, we had a chance to live together with American families in their cosy houses on the weekends. Within the two days I could successfully entegrated into American Culture, where host family offered a support and warm welcome for us. Our host parents, Brett , Amy, and their adorable daughter Maya, of course, unfogettable Mel(their cute cat) met me and Vatosoa with great pleasure, they were amiable in everything starting from the first day of our meeting, because they respect our wishes, always tried to find something interesting to us and they could do it. For example, we could have and cook together American burgers, Rhubarb pie and S’mores, which is enlarged my cooking skills. Moreover, we did crazy shopping together with our lovely host mama Amy.

On the second day , we had a chance to discover American history visiting «Garnet Ghost Town», where I learnt about miners life from 1860-1940. The main thing that impressed me that this town still has its own historical value where many visitors and tourists come from different parts of the world. We were one of them and we definetly will share about this interesting place in our home country.

Homestay advantages from SUSI 2016 scholars:

§ family relations

§ a private bedroom,

§ a welcoming home atmosphere,

§ human interaction and connection,

§ rich cultural opportunities,

§ independence and freedom

§ culture divercity

Feedback from SUSI 2016 participants:

Kristina and Khannie: «We could ride a horse for the first time!!», «Love was in the air!»

Nadina and Keniya: «Environment protectors», «Great woman for a random kindness!»

Ana and Nadya: «Independent children».

MukadasMukadas2Mukadas3Mukadas4

Homestay

By Nadina-Carmen NICOLICI

Drobeta Turnu Severin, ROMANIA

 

I’d like to start my article by admitting one single personal thing (a really big issue for me): the very first time I found out that the SUSi program also means “homestaying”, I felt quite embarrassed, as I have always been of the idea that for me it’s better to be on my own than sharing things (a house!) with complete strangers. Though the coordinators of the program continually assured us everything was going to be all right, I was still reticent and doubtful. But then, the big day arrived, and here I came to meet a wonderful family from Missoula: Cris and Kevin, their amazing children – Zalie and Asher, their wonderful dogs – Rainy and Bella, and their bunny – Smokie. So, here I am, ready to face a new challenge.

 

I am sure now that they may have had the same worries as I did, but everything is easier when people communicate, isn’t it right? From the very beginning, we talked, shared ideas, asked questions and all these prepared me for one of the most amazing things related to my American experience: they offered me the chance to get a bite of the American lifestyle, and what I consider to be the most important thing is the fact that I could really live it, I was not a simple spectator – I was part of it.

What impressed me the most? I don’t know where and how to start… For me, communication is vital, and so, from the very beginning we had the chance to talk about everything: education, history, environmental protection, sports, music, daily life, holidays, celebrations, etc. I learned a lot from these discussions, as all the time I compared things (what is good in my country, what is good in the USA, what could be improved, and so on). I am deeply interested in culture and everything it means, and I guess my host family could somehow read my thoughts, as they provided me with plenty of it. We visited the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which proved to be a great educational tour which enabled me to discover the elk country.

 

Our next stop was the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula and the Museum of Military History. What deeply touched me were the relics and all the personal things and stories sheltered in that place. I was excited to find some connections with my country as well. We hit the road again, and our next stop was Traveler’s Rest State Park where I had the chance of learning more about Lewis and Clark and their expedition in the area a long time ago. As I am more and more interested in the native Americans, I had one more chance to learn about their lifestyle by visiting the visitors’ center. Later in the afternoon I was invited to attend a retirement party and I got the unique chance of seeing how families celebrate together, how they really are, what belonging means. It was great to talk to people, ask and answer different questions, sharing experience and knowledge.

 

But, what really inspired me was one tiny thing which may have huge impact on people – I can call it simply “random kindness”, which can be translated as being kind and helping complete strangers, making their day by one little thing you do: paying for a coffee in advance, offering a flower to a neighbor, helping somebody with shopping…. I packed this piece of valuable information and I will take it back to my country, where I will teach the others to apply it.

Now, at the end of the day, I must confess I am tired but extremely happy and inspired, as all my worries vanished. If I am given the chance, I will repeat the experience for sure.

Fruitful Experience

By Nagy Abdelraouf Abdeldayem
Al-Obour Model Institute, Cairo, Egypt

 

Hello America, Egypt, the twenty countries of SUSI participants, The Mansfield Center and the embassy of the United States in Egypt.
Today, I am going to talk about my fruitful experience through our second visit to Big Sky High School in Missoula. This visit added a lot me a teacher as I met the staff of the school who were ready to share all their resources and experience with us as SUSI participants. For example, Ms Meleina, a helpful teacher of writing gave wonderful solutions to the problems of teaching writing and how to deal with the trouble-makers in our classes. Ms Nancy Thibo handled class behavior and how to create a meter for self-assessment of the teacher to see how far he/she proceeds. Mr. Aron Fortner showed great enthusiasm to cooperate with us and our students through making connections in between teachers and students in our schools and those of Big Sky High school. Really, today’s field trip was a great one and the people of Gig Sky are great respectable and loving staff. I truly thank them from the deepest of my heart.

I consider this trip complimentary to that of Helena, the capital of Montana. In Helena, we managed to have an overview on the history of the United States and its native culture. We started with the Capitol where we felt that we traveled more than 100 years backwards in time. The architecture of that building goes back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The decorations, the wall hangings, the paintings, the statues, the supreme court, the senate, the chamber of representatives…etc. All these narrate a history of an area of the U.S. where one should stop for long to study. Moreover, I was so pleased with the warm welcoming of the Lieutenant Governor, Mike Cooney who greeted us and gave a synopsis on the history of Montana’s constitutional convention.

Next, we visited Montana’s History Museum where one can see himself/herself seized within different epochs of native American history. from the ice age up till the modern age. The paintings, tools and instruments, the sculptures, everything in the museum leads you back across history of the native American culture. In addition, we were lucky to visit the Montana Office of Public Instruction where we met the committee responsible for content standards and Instruction, and that of Accreditation. Finally, I was truly fascinated by the great effort done by the Indian Education Division. This division is responsible for reviving the native Indian cultural heritage. In Particular, this topic took me back to my continent where the men of letters and thinkers prophesied an approach towards liberating the African continent from the clutches of colonialism. They called it “decolonization”. Its aim was to take the people of Africa back to their indigenous cultural heritage through reviving their old traditions, mythology and ancestral legacy. The Indian education has a lot in common with decolonization. It is truly amazing to help the Indian revive their culture and to be proud of it.

Back to the most thrilling events of the day (Friday June, 10), We met our host families for this weekend. I was truly lucky to be with Mr and Mrs Wood. A very nice, open -minded, generous, loving, understanding, respectful, decent, honorable and much more. When they came to Pantzer Hall to pick me up, I felt great happiness as I started to feel as if I am going to spend the weekend within my own family. When we arrived at their home, I realized how great and generous they are to volunteer to host somebody they do not know from a totally different culture. The Woods embody the real meaning of a universal family who has friends all over the world and hosted people from around the globe. I truly thank them as they represent an unparalleled example of an American family from the peaceful State of Montana.

In short, the SUSI 2016 is really wonderful for the variety of academic, cultural and regional activities it provides for its participants. it has added so much to me about the history, culture and the educational system in the United States.

Let’s have a look at the photographs picked at the events I handled in this report.

A VIEW FROM THE OUTSIDE

By Vatosoa Raharinosy, Madagascar

 

Vatosoa

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.