Montana Memoirs: Stories of Nature, Community, and Growth

Robi Kate Miranda
3 min readMay 13, 2024

Attending my academic fellowship in Montana was truly a remarkable experience. From the breathtaking landscapes to the genuine warmth of the people, it was an adventure filled with unforgettable moments.

Before I joined the fellowship, it wasn’t an easy journey. I faced rejection two times before finally being shortlisted for an interview and eventually passing it. Looking back, I couldn’t understand why I needed to go through multiple rejections, but as they say, timing has its own way of revealing things.

When I was selected to participate in the 2024 Spring cohort, I had high hopes of learning a lot. However, what I gained exceeded my expectations. More than just knowledge, I found lifelong friends and mentors among the strangers I met.

During one session, our academic director, Dr. Dan, emphasized the importance of being open to experiences beyond what was written in our program book. Despite juggling work commitments back in the Philippines, I made sure to participate in events outside the program, such as the Earth Day Celebration at Missoula Urban Demonstration Project, exploring Downtown Missoula’s shops and events, attending church with my Catholic co-fellows, and visiting a bar with historical portraits of Montanans. Hiking and witnessing the northern lights (aurora borealis) was a major highlight and a dream come true, considering they hadn’t been visible in Montana for 20 years.

The fellowship program had several other highlights, like our study tour in Flathead Lake, where we met Germaine White and learned about her experiences as an indigenous person. We also delved into the ecology of the lake, understanding how different species interact with one another.

Another unforgettable experience was our trip to Yellowstone National Park, where we encountered various wildlife and had our first snowball fight. It was eye-opening to see firsthand how beautiful the environment can be when properly cared for.

Visiting Butte, Helena shed light on the environmental impacts of mining, especially evident at the Berkeley Pit, a former open-pit copper mine. Touring an underground mine was a chilling experience, witnessing the challenging conditions miners faced with minimal pay.

Our last study trip in Helena, Montana provided insight into how government agencies work to maintain a healthy and thriving state.

Above all, I appreciated the simple joys of Montana, like the free public bus transportation, the genuine kindness of its people (special mention to my fellow Filipino, Shien, and my host family—Lauren and Kersey), and the numerous nonprofit organizations working toward building a more sustainable city for everyone.

Reflecting on my time in Montana, I realize that the true essence of the fellowship wasn’t just about the scheduled events, but about embracing every opportunity and connection that came my way.

It was a journey of growth, learning, and building lasting relationships that will stay with me for a lifetime.

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Robi Kate Miranda

Hi, I'm Robi! Welcome to my blog. Read about my advocacies, self-help tips, productivity strategies, and everything in between.