MCIV BLOG

Monday, November 9, 2015

Southeast Asian Visitors Learn about Language Education

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Visitors from five countries in South East Asia visited Montana last week to learn about best practices in rural education and preserving the cultural background of minority groups in multi-ethnic societies. Our visitors visited schools in Helena, Arlee, St. Ignatius, Pablo, and Polson. Although they were initially uncomfortable in the cold Montana weather, the visitors soon warmed up and were very impressed with Montana hospitality. This was the first time these visitors had seen snow, as they had mostly come from low-land sub-tropical areas with year-round warm climates. Our visitors were also impressed by Montana food and enjoyed their time with host families in Helena who had invited them to dinner in their homes. While on the Salish-Kootenai reservation our visitors were blown away by the strong cultural traditions at play in the lives of Native American educators. Our visitors took part in hands on activities at Native American schools and sampled and learned important practices for the preservation of local language. Hla Myo Naing, from a small village in Myanmar said “I want to take back ideas from the Salish-Kootenai tribe in the Flathead. I want to help people learn our language. MY grandparents speak the native language but I do not know how to speak it. I want to do what the Salish have done by bringing language to the schools.” Naing was the first person from his village to graduate from college and wants to take what he learned from school and from this formative trip to Montana back to his village where he hopes to work improve literacy and preserve his ethnic heritage. Our visitors met with WIlliam Swaney, the Tribal Education Director and learned valuable educational skills from this impressive and involved figure on the Salish-Kootenai reservation. We hope that our visitors enjoyed their time here as much as we enjoyed hosting them!

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