Monday, June 21, 2010

The Pow- Wow!!!

Friday, well Friday was the Pow Wow. After another day of really interesting talks and presenting my poster we all got to go to this amazing event.

A Pow Wow is a Native-American dance competition, but it's also so much more. It was increadible to be allowed to witness this cultural tradition. I stood in awe as maybe a hundred people danced into the basketball stadium.

 Men, Women and children in the most amazing outfits!!

I don't know that I can really explain what the experience was like. All I could think was what an honour it was to be witnessing this spectacle. So when they invited the audience to join the dancing I was off, in typical giddy Claire style, dragging everyone else with me. 

We danced with them, then we danced for them. It was so much fun!!

When we left the dance-floor, the competition started. You've never seen real breakdancing until you've seen it done by a Native-American in full regalia.

The skill of those dancers was unbelievable!

When it came time to leave I was disappointed, but also completely fired up and excited. I bounced my way back to the shuttle bus, chattering incessantly about how amazing the Pow Wow had been, what a privilege it was to be there and how it was an experience that I will be telling my great-grandchildren about. It was a truly wonderful insight into another culture, a different way of life and I was deeply moved by the experience.

The Conference

Thursday was the first day of the conference and we all went our separate ways, with some presenting and others going off to different subject talks. Rebecca and I stuck together, being fellow psychology geeks. We heard some really interesting talks, had the opportunity to see how undergraduate research is done in the U.S and the chance to talk to other students with similar research interests. It was fantastic! (in a really lame geeky way, lol).

At the first plenary session of the conference we heard the governor of Montana speak, who was accompanied on stage by his dog!!!!

(However, I wasn't quick enough with the camera to catch the dog, before it hid behind the podium *sigh*)

Then the Mayor of Missoula spoke, he was hilarious!!! Possibly the best speech of the conference.

On the whole it was a very academic day.

So obviously we finished it with a trip to Hooters!!! ;)

Montana!! (From my Journal)

Big Sky doesn't do Montana justice, this is the place of endless sky. Before coming here I didn't get the whole Big Sky thing, I mean the sky is the same size everywhere right? No! Here the sky feels enormous, only broken by the mountains that surround Missoula. The landscape here is truly breathtaking, it makes me wish I was a better photographer because I just can't seem to do it justice. 

The landscape is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, beautiful in a way like nothing I've ever seen. I know that Montana will forever hold a place in my heart, I fell in love here, with this landscape, with this Forever Sky and the laid-back people. I sincerely hope that I get a chance to come back here some day, but if I don't, this landscape is forever burned in my soul. 

Waking up here on the morning after our epic journey, I opened my curtains and saw the mountains for the first time. 

I was so surprised!! Driving in the night before in the darkness, all I had seen was the flatness of the plain Missoula sits on. This surprise led to my FB status "It's amazing what a good nights sleep can do. I woke up this morning and there's mountains!" This became one of the in-jokes of the trip, that I could create mountains by sleeping. ;) 

So, whilst the more athletic of the group went to climb a mountain (or walk the M as the locals call it)

the rest of us headed to the Mall. We did some shopping, then headed into Downtown Missoula. We were taken aback by the cleanliness of the place, and by the ever present backdrop of snow-tipped mountains. 

(This river runs through Missoula, separating the city centre from the University campus, compare this to the Canal in Manchester!!)
Michael turned out to be quite the comedian and what sticks with me most about that day (and the rest of the trip) is the laughter. We spent the day in fits of hysteria, giggling like school children.

Eventually we arrived at the University of Montana campus, which like everything else here is just beautiful. There's squirrels running around in the grass by the paths, They're pretty tame and very cute! This one was even kind enough to pose for my camera.

Our first day ended in a bar, with more laughter and silliness courtesy of Michael. 

Finally a minute to blog!

OMG!!! I have been sooo busy since the trip to Montana. Since the trip ended up being extended thanks to the Icelandic volcano erupting, the run-up to exams was a mad sprint!! So no time to blog.

When exams finished, I thought I'd get some time to myself, but then I'd forgotten all the things that I'd agreed to do. I had a paper to write and a presentation to prepare with my lovely friend Rebecca, I had all the photos to post-process, I had a PhD studentship application to get together (which is much more difficult than it sounds) and the list goes on. Needless to say, I haven't stopped, which is the way I like things.

Anyway, today I decided to have a day off, and catch up with my blog. I'm going to split the posts up, for my sanity, which means several posts today. So sorry to my FB friends, coz it's gonna be annoying I know.