Archive for June, 2016

A group of delegates from Kyrgyzstan came to Montana through the Open World Program to study Local Water Management and Dry Climate Irrigation.

The delegates were welcomed to Helena by a meeting with Mayor Jim Smith where they discussed water quality issues.  During their stay they were also able to meet with Representative Mary Ann Dunwell, (D) HD84 State Representative from Helena to talk about the legislative process of introducing water bills and moving it through the process into law. The delegates visited the State Capitol, the Montana Historical Society, and Fort Harrison during their time in Helena.  The delegates then traveled to Bozeman to visit the Bozeman Water Reclamation Facility where they met with Superintendent Herb Bartle.  The group was also able to spend quality time with their host families and make connections in the Helena community through them.

At the end of their stay, the Kyrgyz delegates gave a presentation on the traditions and culture of Kyrgyzstan to an audience of about 25 people from the Helena community.  They began the presentation by showing a video that highlighted how the country of Kyrgyzstan is truly, “The Heart of Asia”.  The audience was able to see where the delegates call home from the vast mountain ranges to the clear lakes.  After giving a taste of the country’s landscape, the delegates performed a traditional Kyrgyz song and dance.  The song titled, “Kyzyl Oruk”, which translates to “Red Apricot”, is a traditional love song the delegates and audience sang along to.  The delegates also preformed a traditional dance and the audience joined in as well.  After performing, the Kyrgyz taught traditional games of Kyrgyzstan; find the golden ring and tug of war.  Both the delegates and the audience enjoyed being able to see the similarities and differences between their cultures.

One of the delegates, Aida commented on her experience in Montana, “I was impressed by the water experts who wanted us to learn something.  Also a new thing for us was to visit the National Guard.  I would really like to build the relationships we have made during our stay.  I am thankful for the interns who have helped.  We were able to see with our own eyes the realities of the U.S.  We will take what we have learned back home and tell them how Americans live.”

The Kyrgyz performing a traditional dance.

This past May, Megan Lamach, a student at Capital High traveled to Brazil to participate in a Youth Ambassadors Program. This program furthered her study in leadership and cultural interaction. She is the first person from Helena to engage in an international program of this sort.

While in Brazil, Megan and other students in the program volunteered at the local soup kitchen, toured coffee farms and colleges, and went on hikes to hidden waterfalls. They also took part in Portuguese classes and capoeira dance classes.

By far, the most influential part of the experience was staying with a host family. She spent time with her host sibling, met other teens, and learned about their culture and lifestyle. The students were able to explore downtown, and go out for ice cream in the evenings after a long day of learning.

Staying with a host family allowed Megan to learn more about the Brazilian culture, and strengthen her Portuguese. The bonds formed between her and the host family were irreplaceable. They shared memories they will never forget, even if they may not see each other again.

While there, the students each created a long-term project they will continue to work on in furthering their leadership skills. Megan hopes to work with elementary school children to peak their interest in learning.

Megan plans to continue her focus by participating in a business skills and leadership program in Butte later this summer. She also looks forward to meeting the Iraqi and Mexican students who will be visiting Helena in July in a similar program.

She heard about this program from her grandmother, who is involved in hosting students in similar programs in our Helena community.


A view of the rooftops in Brazil.

Megan with friends looking out over Brazil.IMG-20160510-WA0023

Megan with the many friends she made during her trip to Brazil.

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