Brief Reflection on the Activities of the Day & My Feelings of Being a Part of the Program

​Today’s blogger is Aung of Burma.

The morning was started by the interaction of the chilly breezes, evidence of rain last night and the sporadic poke of the sunlight as I went to Food Zoo with my country man, Ben. During the days I have been on the campus of the University of Montana, my feelings on Food Zoo have gone through a fluctuation. It has the best breakfast meal I could have in town – the best combo of bacon, sausages, scrambled egg and potatoes! Oh wait, are they undermining my long-awaited attempt to lose weight? Then, I’d change to the Spartan diet with fruits, fruits, fruits and yoghurt. This morning I managed myself to have a somewhat more balanced diet. Or I want to believe so. What life would be like if there’s not development whatsoever even in feeding your own body?

The first part of today is learning first-hand experiences at Garden City Harvest and the PEAS Farm. To be extremely honest, I did not have any expectations on the visits of farms when I first looked at the program book – so there might be some old tattered farmers or gardeners with miserable life, huh? What I have learned from the farms here is that they don’t really have a miserable life, and they have passion in what they are doing. What’s more wonderful is that the people at the farm we have been today are not conventional and run-off-the-mill farmers. One of the founders of the farm is a lecturer from the UM who is leading other undergraduate and graduate students to run the farm. Most of the food from the farm are donated to the Food Bank which is the second most amazing system created by the people in the United States ever (The first is their Constitution, of course.)

The system with which the Food Bank is run is very simple. People with surplus food can give their food to the Food Bank which will give this food to other people in need. Someone told me the word. Food Bank is a bit misleading. Unlike a bank, you cannot withdraw your food or will not have interests. But My internal debunk generator has been telling me it is only “humanity ‘saves’ food and humanity ‘withdraws’ food. To be a philanthropist, you don’t have to build a college with your name. You can give other people what you don’t need. In doing so, I feel, Food Bank is a perfect bridge for people. I am motivated by this movement of feeding poor people for free. Both in developing countries like mine or developed countries like the U.S, hunger (or let’s say starvation) is the last thing a living person wants after life is ordained.

This thought has been bouncing back and forth in my head ever since Vathna, my roommate, told me. We were having a conversation about The Beatles, events in history and the expectations for the future. He told me he did not expect to see someone like me who share the same interests with him.

“I am an outsider among the friends in my country. I listen to The Beatles which almost none of my friends listen to,” he said to me. “Perhaps, the U.S embassy chose us based on whether we like The Beatles or not,” I joked him. But it is not just The Beatles. I could not have many friends who want to discuss on the Western philosophies on length, or directions the world literature is going to. So it is rational for me to jump into induction that the participants of YSEALI (who comes from South East Asian countries) will be just people, who want to take selfies even in bathroom, talk about pop culture and lead to non-intellectual activity. But I have found some participants who are interested in intellectual conversation and philosophical musing during the program. Never can you induce with what you have at hands.

People have been asking me what the best thing about the program is since I have been on the program. I had a hard time giving them my answer. Not that I am very depressed about the program. I want my answer to be honest and the ethical values I am holding never let me say something is the best without the consent of my reasoning. After I have been here for nearly four weeks, the best thing about the program started to clear on my mind. It is conversations I had with the fellow participants. Although we have differences to certain extent, I had found our countries share the same conditions (or issues) I thought are unique to my country – from political gridlock and corrupted governmental structure to the attitudes, culture, eating habits and lifestyle of the peoples. I would have never known our countries are that similar otherwise.

I am writing on this blog right after I finished my search for the City of Jazz, New Orleans. We’ll be taking a flight back to each of our country after we visit New Orleans and Washington DC. It seems every single day in here has sneaked out while we all are deep into the ocean of learning ideas, meeting people and experiencing new things. The worst thing about being a human, perhaps, is that sometimes we have to depart each other in order to continue the journey of life with the memories left behind at other people and places we wish we stayed with forever. When I wake up in the middle of the night and feel thirsty, I would flip through the photos I have taken during the trip or I would log in to Facebook to see what other participants are doing. But a chance of hanging out with all the same people in the same places is next to impossible. However, we will stay with the memories with sweetness in between. That’s all about the history of human beings are.


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