The European Union’s Digital Market

A few weeks ago I attended a lecture by European Union diplomat Andrea Glorioso. Glorioso specializes in the EU’s online market.

When he began explaining EU member states’ fears about the security of online purchasing, my ears perked up. Glorioso said that somewhere around 70% of the European Union’s commercial transactions are now online. Three problems have arisen from this, each of them important for the European Union to consider when improving their digital economy and its participants.

First, not all EU citizens have high-speed internet access or even the means of accessing the internet. Thus, they cannot partake in the growing industry that is online shopping. Glorioso said that many retailers are emphasizing their online presence by providing discounts and incentives that only online shoppers can see.

Second, Glorioso said that online retailers have the technological means of seeing shoppers’ location and purchasing history. This has affected the marketing tactics and pricing that retailers deploy. For instance, if an Italian or German shopper is browsing a French online store, the French retailers might have implemented code that would increase the prices of items. Thus, the Italian or German shopper pays more.

Third, shoppers fear the risks of putting their payment and personal information into online forms. The European Union’s online market is still improving its security, so shoppers’ hesitancy is warranted.

Neustadt Festival

La semana pasada tuve el placer de asistir a una conferencia de autores que formaron parte del jurado del festival Neustadt este año. Decidí venir principalmente porque me enteré de que uno de mis autores favoritos, Zia Haider Rahman, iba a leer una parte de su primera novela, In the Light of What We Know, una novela de trata de tantas cosas – el amor, la traición, la guerra, la historia, las matématicas, y los límites de nuestros conocimientos – que me encantó cada de las tres veces que la leí. Sin embargo, me gustaron las lecturas de todos los autores en el jurado. Encontré las historias contadas por Adnan Mahmutovic especialmente graciosos aunque eran llenas de la tristeza melancólica de todo refugiado, pero el conjunto de las lecturas fue magnífico. La lectura de Achy Obejas fue inquietante y un poco confusa – no sé si entendí bien el contexto de la historia – pero su lenguaje era sobresaliente y es obvio que es una escritora eminentemente talentosa. Aunque fue la lectura de Zia Haider Rahman que me gustó más (la grabé en secreto para poder escucharla de nuevo más tarde), disfruté de cada lectura y autor. Había un grupo muy diverso de autores – una  india-estadounidense, una  cubana-estadounidense, un británico-bangladesí, un bosnio-sueco, y una rusa de la minoridad musulmana de ese país. Esta diversidad enriqueció el evento, en mi opinión, y pude conocer las obras de cuatro autores cuyos nombres nunca había escuchado antes. Ojalá que tenga la oportunidad de explorar más de sus obras en el futuro.

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Reading Notes: Robin Hood (A)

  •  I’ve always seen Robin Hood portrayed as a great guy, but here he kind of isn’t. It might be interesting to write a story that explains why he became a good guy, or a story where he really is a villain.
  • Does Robin Hood adopt every person that wanders into Sherwood?
  • I wonder what Allen a Dale’s bride was thinking as all this happened. Or how she felt about moving to Sherwood
  • I like that Robin comes across as more of a trickster in these stories. Trickster tales are some of my favorites!

Bibliography: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads collected by Francis James Child.

Image: Robin Hood and Little John by Louis Rhead. Source: Wikimedia

Into the Mainstream: The Rise of Radical Populism in Europe

This week I had the opportunity to attend Into the Mainstream: Explaining the Rise of Radical Populist Parties in Europe. The lecture was held at Zarrow Hall by Dr. Reinhard Heinisch. I decided to attend this lecture purely out of obligation. I realized that this lecture would not only count towards my Global Engagement requirements but it would also count as an extra credit opportunity in my Understanding the Global Community class.  In this lecture, Dr. Reinhard Heinisch attempted to explain the rise of radical populist parties in Europe and the long-term implications of this phenomena. In general, populism is the political doctrine that proposes that the common people are exploited by a privileged elite and seeks to solve this. From the lecture, it seems that populism In recent years, Europe has experienced a rise in radical populism and it isn’t just a momentary trend. It’s on the rise because this kind of party is highly mobile, flexible, and represents more than just one pool of voters. In fact, in the lecture, Dr. Reinard Heize, explained that populism steals from both left and right wing parties. As a result, the rise and growth of populism in Europe has caused rises in emerging political parties, nationalism/nativism and anti-globalist views.

I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture but wish Dr. Reinhard would’ve delved more into the effects of populism and its future implications. Overall, increased nationalism and anti-globalist views in Europe is alarming and leads me to question whether this rise in populism will lead to large increases in racism and paranoia in Europe. The rise of anti-immigration and anti-Muslim views already seems to be proof of this. The masses in Europe seem to fear losing their social identity and sense of control. Moreover, how far will the rise in populism set globalist ideals back? For the most part, in recent years, the world has undergone a steady process of globalization that has spread trade, technology, and capital across global boundaries. However, as the rise of nationalism and nativism increases in Europe the masses will undoubtedly want to stray away from the globalist agenda. I feel that in the upcoming years this could eventually mean decreases in international correspondence and negotiation as every country will be more concerned with their own social and political agenda. Alarmingly, this could in turn also weaken larger international bodies like NATO and the United Nations. However, the bigger concern is that, the world can’t afford this type of social and political development. In order to ensure changes in larger issues like inequality and environmental sustainability, cooperation and understanding need to be continued.

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Language and Religion: The Case of Arabic

Last week, I attended Language and Religion: The Case of Arabic. The speaker, Dr. Muhammad S. Eissa, is an independent scholar who has taught Arabic since 1966. In this lecture, Dr. Muhammad explained the significance of language and how it affects how we practice and perceive religion. He placed the largest emphasis on how the Arabic language affects how Muslims practice and perceive the Quran. Language is often largely associated with identity. Therefore, in most cases, if an individual associates a language with a religion than it begins to alter their perception and understanding of that religion. The language of the Quran has always been the Arabic language. According to Dr. Muhammad, for Muslims to truly recognize the Quran, the book has to be in the Arabic. The teachings behind the Quran are altered if the book is translated in another language. In short, the translated Quran, is no longer the Quran. This seems to be in part, because of diglosia, the situation when two languages are used in different conditions within the community.

Overall, Dr. Muhammad left his topic open ended and only lightly touched base with its significance. However, I was relatively intrigued by the points he made during his lecture. The biggest question I had during his discussion was whether the Arabic language hinders teaching and interpreting the Quran to different groups of people. Although I understand there will be discrepancies between the wording of the Quran if it is translated into another language, I don’t believe language should play such a big factor in how a religion is spread/taught. Are the people that are learning the Quran in different languages practicing its teachings incorrectly? However, with that being said, I also understand that the Quran is extremely sacred for Muslims. It is a significant part of their religious and social identities. Therefore, its justified that Muslims can only recognize the Quran in its original Arabic language.

 

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A Night with Friends

I am very glad that I got to return to one of my favorite international events from last year: the international student game night. This one this year passed much the same as it did last year. I ended up playing Uno for a large majority of the night and met a bunch of super cool people. For example, I met Anto from Venezuela and Francisca from Brazil. I also got to hang out with some friends that I had previously made, such as Amer from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, when I see these people around campus, I don’t hesitate to say hi. This program was a great way to bridge the gap between American and International students.

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Why French? Why Mandarin?

WHY FRENCH?

  • 220 million speak French on five continents
  • France is also the only language, besides English, that is taught in every country in the world
  • French is the official language in 29 countries and is used in many international organizations such as the UN and EU
  • I want to visit French Polynesia, African countries, and European countries that speak French. It’s also spoken on 5 different continents, and I’d love to someday travel to all 7 continents.
  • I’ve always had this strange inclination for French music, films, literature, and history. Speaking on French films and literature, J’adore Le Petit Prince! Ce film a un bon message.
  • I’m only recently discovering Francophone cultures and how French is spoken in concentrated areas such as Montreal or Quebec in Canada, in parts of Belgium, and is a lingua franca along with English in French Polynesia, etc. I look forward to learning more!
  • I have this goal of mine where I’ll be able to read current events from different language sources and news outlets to cover most (hopefully someday all of them) regions in the world. French will cover parts of Europe and parts of Africa.
  • Diplomacy-wise and Economically-wise, French is spoken in many countries in Africa
  • Trading-wise, French is the official language of Canada– the US’s top trading partner

 

WHY MANDARIN?

  • I’d be able to speak to ⅕ of the people on this Earth. That’s insane.
  • Mandarin is the official language in 5 countries and is used in many international organizations such as the UN
  • I have Chinese heritage. My great grandfather was half Chinese and spoke Mandarin.
  • I’ve always had a strong affiliation for Asian culture because of my heritage and the 6 years I lived in Japan
  • I’ve always wanted to visit countries like China, Singapore, Taiwan
  • I’d also be able to use Mandarin in Chinatowns here in the US
  • I’m interested in learning about Chinese culture, history, and US-China diplomatic relations
  • I have this goal of mine where I’ll be able to read current events from different language sources and news outlets to cover most (hopefully someday all of them) regions in the world. Mandarin will cover Asia’s region.
  • I went to one of the Chinese Week events earlier in the semester. I can’t remember what the event was, but I remember being enthralled by the culture and feeling a sense of belonging.

 

A case for learning any language:

  • Speak to the heart of that person
  • Opens more immersive travel opportunities
  • You understand your own language better
  • Learn about cultures and histories through that language and learn things that only knowing the language allows
  • etc. (there are so many more reasons out there!)

Indonesia’s Global Engagement (GEF International Event)

Every day is a learning experience, but when I attend the IAS lunches, I feel 60% more informed and see myself becoming more globally-minded. That being said, I found it insightful to hear the Consul General Nana Yuliana talk about Indonesia’s foreign policy.

Though Indonesia became independent from the Dutch (and before them–the Japanese) in 1945, they are a rising economic power and a key member of ASEAN (the equivalent of the EU, but focused in Asian countries). Indonesia credits this rise to their principle of being “independent and active” through which they believe diplomacy and individual-individual communication between Indonesian students and American students will resolve the people-people misunderstanding.

Dr. Yuliana also mentioned Indonesia’s current priorities: 1)Economic diplomacy 2)Maritime diplomacy 3)Protection of Indonesian citizens and their legal entities overseas 4)Take an active role in the international forum. Current challenges to these include the South China Sea issue, conflict in the Korean Peninsula, terrorism, etc.

It never ceases to amaze me how much my studies have given me so much background to lectures such as these. For instance, my 19th-century intellectual history class led me to think about the democracy model and the different perspectives regarding it versus other models, and my Understanding the Global Community class forced me (haha:) to think about how different states interact with each other and what causes them to act in such ways. I look forward to doing personal research– particularly regarding Indonesian culture.

Nana Yuliana. “Lecture on Indonesia’s Global Engagement with the US Lunch”. The University of Oklahoma. October 30, 2017.

Arabic and Persian: Language, Food, and History

Several Fridays ago I attended an incredible event that was a joint effort between the Persian and Arabic language studies programs, in which professors from both departments spoke about their respective language and its role in the history and culture of the Middle Eastern region. I had no idea that both languages used the same alphabet; this seemed incredibly strange to me until I realized that the romance languages share a common alphabet, so why shouldn’t languages from another region draw their words from the same letters?
My interest was definitely piqued in wanting to learn and understand these beautiful languages. I speak somewhat fluent Spanish, and it was interesting to learn that many words in Spanish actually derive from Arabic. I am also learning Hebrew, and can hear similarities between the Hebrew and Arabic languages when I listen to spoken Arabic.
Another element of the lecture was food; there was a delicious array of dishes from both Arabic and Persian culture. Mediterranean cuisine is my all time favorite, so I was familiar with many of the foods laid out. However, one that I had never tried before was a Persian saffron pudding, which was tinted yellow and had hints of rose in its complex flavor array. The head of the Iranian Studies Department spoke on the topic of food from the Middle Eastern region, and about some of the eating habits that differ from our habits in the Western world. She highlighted the importance of community in Arabic and Persian-speaking countries, where people really take the time to sit down together to share a meal. And although in the West we are big on sitting in chairs around a proper table, it turns out there are many health benefits to eating on the floor, which is typical of how people eat in the Middle East.
The final topic talked about was tea. I was fascinated to learn that Middle Easterners were originally religious coffee drinkers; however, with the advent of the silk road, tea became a very common and important commodity in peoples’ lives. When I was in Israel this past December, I often drank black tea with fresh mint. I was delighted when I saw a table with pots of tea and a fresh bowl of the fragrant herb, as it transported me back to my own journey to a country of the Middle East.

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