November Newsletter

November Newsletter

“As we strive to teach others we must have the humility to acknowledge that we too still have much to learn.” -Aung San Suu Kyi

We can’t believe our time is already up with our Mansfield Center YSEALI Fellows Kath, Zaw, and Marvelous!

These three women visited Missoula for one month as part of The YSEALI (Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative) Fellowship. The program provides the opportunity for young leaders from Southeast Asia to travel to the United States to enhance their professional skills, experience American culture, and build lasting partnerships between the fellows and American hosts. The Fellows program of the University of Montana hosts young leaders aged 25-35 from Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

We are going to miss them so much! We’d love to share a bit about them and the amazing empowerment work they do in their home countries.


Kath Khangpiboon from Bangkok, Thailand 

Empowerment work: Kath is an advocate for the transgender community, working against trans-phobia and violence, and to improve secure access to healthcare services. She is a founding member of the Thai Transgender Alliance, a working group to strengthen the transgender community and advocacy efforts. She specifically focuses on education and health for transgender youth. In addition to her activism, Kath is an Advocacy and Communications Officer for the Raks Thai Foundation, which works to prevent HIV/AIDS in Thailand.

What Kath has missed most from Thailand:
I missed the food so much, but food here is so diverse and I do love the food here so much too.Kath’s favorite part of the trip:
I love the activities with youth. I loved to talk and learn their personalities and listen their power of sharing in many topics. I love to go to the trainingsin school so much.
What Kath has learned that she will use in her work back home: 
I learned the importance of inclusiveness awareness as EmpowerMT working with young people. It’s been such a great learning moment from me. This is something I hope to develop in my home country.One thing that’s new or weird that Kath has encountered in the US:
The American value of volunteering is what I most appreciated. People always support others and make a good society for everyone.Check out Kath’s blog post on the ACLU Press Conference on I-183

Naw Paw Eh (Marvelous) from Yangon, Myanmar

Empowerment Work: Marvelous works primarily with youth to build trust and peace with people from diverse ethnicities and religions in a country that has confronted numerous conflicts.  She helps youth to better understand how to address issues of religion and ethnicity in a time and place where these are extremely sensitive issues.  Having earned a master’s degree in divinity, and being a member of the Karen ethnic minority, she has conducted peace building training with faith-based communities, with a focus on Karen Christian areas.  Marvelous has also volunteered as a facilitator in the National Level Political Dialogue in the Peace Process of Myanmar on behalf of the Karen National Union.

What Marvelous has missed most from Myanmar: Food and family

Marvelous’ favorite part of the trip: The leadership style at home and working has been one of my favorite parts of the trip.

What Marvelous has learned that she will use in her work back home: The attitude and volunteering spirit is something I have learned that I will use in my work back home.

One thing that’s new or weird that Marvelous has encountered in the US: How the community cares for the young people is one new thing I have encountered in Missoula.

Pan Nu Zaw from Mandalay, Myanmar

Empowerment Work: Zaw works as a Girls Safety and Security Coordinator at Colorful Girls. Colorful Girls is a local NGO that seeks to empower young women. In contrast to the work of many other gender empowerment organizations, Colorful Girls does not provide vocational training, but rather, seeks to instill leadership skills, confidence, and education so that young women can effectively advocate for themselves and for social change, both in the home and in the public sphere.

What Zaw has missed most from Myanmar: Food!
Zaw’s favorite parts of the trip:

  • I loved to see the snow
  • I’ve love to work together and learn from EmpowerMT
  • People in Missoula are friendly
  • I like the University of Montana

What Zaw has learned that she will use in her work back home: The leadership style at EmpowerMT like the style of starting meetings and communication with colleagues. Also the style of dealing with children like giving them respect, letting them talk, and listening to them.

One thing that’s new or weird that Zaw has encountered in the US: The taste of the food (I am sorry!) because it’s kind of strange- like plain and sometimes salty.

Upcoming Events

Dismantling Hate: Building Skills for an Inclusive Community

The Montana Racial Equity Project and EmpowerMT are pleased to present Dismantling Hate: Building Skills for an Inclusive Community again, this time to the Missoula community!

Facilitated by the MTREP & EmpowerMT this session will enable you to develop skills and strategies to:
• Identify our own cultural lenses, and the cultural lenses of others.
• Build a shared language and foundation of understanding about oppression and its impact on fellow com-munity members.
• Develop skills for interrupting oppression when we see it in our communities.
(click here for more info and registration)

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender day of remembrance will be held on Monday, November 20th. There will be a candlelight vigil at 7 pm on the Oval followed by a roundtable discussion in the Branch center about violence towards the transgender community. (view the Facebook event here)
IRC Family Mentor Volunteer Training

Come learn how to be an IRC Family Mentor Volunteer and support refugees as they begin their new lives in Missoula!

IRC’s Family Mentor Volunteer training occurs EVERY month, on the third Wednesday of each month, from 5:30-7:30pm at IRC. (view the Facebook event here)

News of Interest
Meet the Transgender Americans Who Won on Election Day

In an incredible turnout of pro-equality voters, Americans across the country elected at least seven out transgender people to office during yesterday’s election.

These historic wins took place in states across the country from Georgia to Pennsylvania, as Americans rejected the vitriolic rhetoric that Donald Trump and Mike Pence continue to spew.

HRC applauds the following openly transgender candidates who won a wide variety of races: (continue reading here).

Mayor-elect Wilmot Collins keeps focus on Helena as election gets national buzz

Helena Mayor-elect Wilmot Collins, dressed in a U.S. Army fleece, running shoes and sweats, belts out the lyrics to “Your Man” in a deep bass and “Baby, lock the door and turn the lights down low,” trilling a bit on the last note before breaking out into a laugh.

“I love karaoke, man,” he said the day after he unseated Helena’s mayor of 16 years Jim Smith on a vote of 5,139-4,801, with all but provisional ballots counted. “We went to the Rialto last night after the election and sang. I always start with Brooks & Dunn’s ‘Neon Moon’ and then do some Josh Turner.” (continue reading here)
To Fail Or Not To Fail: The Fierce Debate Over High Standards

“I can’t teach the book right now,” says Shaka Greene, algebra teacher at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. “Because my students are still learning to add 49 plus 17.”

So begins Part 3 — the conclusion of our podcast series: Raising Kings: A Year of Love and Struggle at Ron Brown College Prep.

This radical new high school in Washington, D.C., is really two schools — two approaches — in one. It strives to teach students traditional subjects, including algebra and English, while also helping them grow socially and emotionally. But both efforts require valuable class time, and the school struggles to find a balance. (continue reading here)

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