See where the Global Engagement Fellows have studied abroad, and read their stories!
See where the Global Engagement Fellows have studied abroad, and read their stories!
Every spring semester the entire German department gathers together in a local park to feast on bratwurst and sauerkraut while celebrating the rapidly approaching summer break. I was unable to attend last year but since I recently declared a German major, I made a point of attending the grillfest this spring. Hosted by the OU German Club, the grillfest featured a wide variety of German food. Besides that aforementioned, there was potato salad and tomatoes and cucumbers with dill yogurt and a wide selection of bread paired with Italian soda and finished with some delightful cookies whose name escapes me.
It is now just a few months short of a year since I left Germany and the memory of daily life there grows unfortunately dimmer. However, eating such German fare in the sun surrounded by snippets of German conversions made me feel like I was in my own little slice of Germany in the middle of Norman, OK. I can only imagine what the experience must feel like for the German faculty who either were born in German speaking countries or have spent considerable time there.
Unfortunately, I also noticed that my confidence speaking German outside the classroom has been diminishing as well. Over this summer I will have to work on conversational confidence with my friends who are also learning German.
This semester I attended a lunch talk given by Carston Schapkow on the recent political climate in Germany, especially related to the rise of the right-wing populist party, Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD), which is currently the third-largest party in Germany and is the topic of much concerned discussion both in Germany and around the world. While the AfD began as a Eurosceptic party against the economic Eurozone, it has been more recently described as being German nationalist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and stands against the large number of immigrants that have come, and are still coming to Germany. After Angela Merkel opened Germany’s borders to welcome the wave of refugees, many native Germans became disgruntled as refugee camps sprouted throughout Germany. After the terrorist attack occurred during the Christmas market in Berlin, Germans felt vulnerable and began to look to AfD as a way to vanguard Germany’s security and stand for the voice of the “Volk” or the German people. Schapkow also pointed out that many similar populist parties are sprouting all over Europe.
Even though I was not surprised by the fact that Germany’s refugee crisis has led to anti-immigration sentiment, I was taken aback by the extent to which this has transferred into a political movement that is gaining power, not only in Germany but also all over Europe. The rise of populist parties in Europe is a testament to the fact that more Europeans are becoming dissatisfied with the incompetence of the EU and are looking to more hard-line parties and strong leaders who challenge the notion of unity and tolerance and stand for the voice of their own citizens. While I was in Germany last summer, I remember talking to many Germans (who like to talk about politics) that were dissatisfied with Merkel’s tolerant policies and found the refugees to be a nuisance to their life and their own German society. It seems as if the political climate in Europe is gradually brewing into a perfect storm, and I am eager to see how the political climate changes.
Several weeks ago, I attended the second installment of a Cold War lecture series hosted by the College of International and Area Studies. I wasn't quite prepared for the type of lecture it turned out to be, but by the end I was able to appreciate its uniqueness.
The tagline was "Personal and Professional Reminiscences of a Scholar/Soldier" - I didn't pay too much attention. But a few minutes into listening to Dr. Fishel speak about his highly personal involvement in the happenings of the Cold War, I realized this really was unlike any lecture I had attended at the university. Here was someone who had not only studied the subject on which he spoke, but had lived it. Granted, at times this made it hard to follow. I myself am no expert on the Cold War, and following the multiple threads of his story - often interrupted with another - while keeping count of the handful of facts I knew about the period was taxing at best. Dr. Fishel, in simply recounting his life story, impressed with not only the intrigue of moving from one position to the next within the greater background of this historical period, but also with the pinpoint accuracy of his recollection. Dates, names, detailed visual depictions of certain scenes, all drew us into the story, enraptured.
I left with a little more knowledge and a lot more respect for this man along with countless others who lived a difficult and interesting double life during the 20th century - scholar-soldiers everywhere.
One of the international events I went to this semester was a book talk for “Go, Went, Gone,” a novel about the European immigration crisis. Unfortunately I have not read the book and thus didn’t participate in the talk, but it was still useful to hear other people discuss it. There was a surprising large crowd present: students filled nearly the entire Headington Hall cafeteria, and there were a lot of professors present as well. The talk started with some of the faculty bringing up various points about the novel and raising some questions. Conversation then moved to open floor, and we ran out of time before discussion died out. I was also impressed that the author herself was there. I did not (and still don’t, really) know much about the subject, so the point in the discussion that detailed just how difficult it was for an immigrant to be accepted, and all the complications present in the application, was particularly interesting. Unrelated, I am completely jealous of the cafeteria that Headington has.
This past semester I had the privilege to become an officer for the OU French Club. My team of officers have become great friends and we have had so much fun together all while promoting the French language and culture! Our club is small but we hope that with time we will gain more members.
The United States, Britain, and France launched a missile attack on chemical weapons facilities in Syria this month. More than 100 missiles were launched in the attack. While officials have claimed the strikes took out the heart of President al-Assad’s chemical weapons program, they admitted that it is incredibly likely the Syrian government retained some degree of ability to commit chemical attacks against its own people. At least 3 people were injured in the strikes according to a statement by the Syrian military. Some are skeptical that these strikes will have any lasting impact in the region. They believe that much like the strikes of last year, this month’s strikes will only succeed for a limited time to deter the Syrian government from using chemical weapons.
The closing session of the Commission on the Status of Women was held this March. Negotiations regarding the international status of women have declined. This is largely due to changes in the language of the final outcome document throughout the negotiation process. The formal commitments to improve women’s lives have become increasingly less inclusive because conflicting delegations have debated the language of the document. Several of the featured speakers at the CSW this year commented on how steps should be taken to make the Commission more inclusive. Many advocates are barred entry from the CSW due to the expense of traveling to the US and the need for English language proficiency in order to partcipiate in the Commission. However, speakers emphasized that despite its pitfalls, the CSW is an excellent opportunity to engage international leaders in the process of improving the lives of women and girls worldwide. Several speakers commented on how it is sometimes easier for them to get their message in front of their governments’ officials at CSW in New York than in their respective countries, where their letters and proposals are often stymied by bureaucracy.
The nightime wanderers
Those who walk alone in the dark
But we are together
En la misión de llegar
Contra los de las sombras
Hasta la luz
Un poema bilingüe por Will Runion
Escrito en la mente durante un paseo nocturno y inspirado por las personas que encontramos pero no conocemos durante estos paseos
Photo from: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=912012
I don’t know why I love this song. I don’t know why it means so much to me honestly.
I think because it’s not just a basic Ed Sheeran song. It’s one with feeling and true meaning behind the words.
Whenever I listen to this song though, I only think about my mom. My sweet sweet mom. She’s a trooper honestly.
This song basically talks all about a mom and what she does for her children. And I think it perfectly defines my mom. She’s a freakin superstar and I am so blessed that I was given a mom who is so persistent on helping me with my problems and so passionate in everything she does. She does absolutely everything for her family and is so devoted to making me and my siblings happy.
She is so selfless.
Another reason why I think I am so close to this song is because it talks about eventually when his mom is going to go to heaven. And that scares the crap out of me. Because, when it is eventually my mom’s time, I will be an orphan.
Although I do have my stepdad, it is still so different. The simple idea of being separated from my mom gives me anxiety. But I think that is understandable for anybody. For some reason, just a mom’s hug can make you feel better than anything in the world. Supposedly it’s psychological??? I’m not sure.
It stinks that I haven’t seen my mom in nearly a month. I miss her so much.
But I remind myself that in less than 3 weeks, she will be here, ready to give me the biggest hug and to take me home.
As I always say, music is the key to my heart. It’s what keeps me sane and honestly keeps me together. But also, it’s what can break me.
I know music from all different genres and if you were to ask any of my friends… they would agree that you won’t find Abbey Barkley not listening to music.
I 100% believe it is because it is what connects me to my dad. Music was his thing, and I am so grateful that he passed down that love to me.
Rainbow is a new song that Kasey Musgraves came out with on her new album recently, and the words and just the overall mood of the song makes it one of my new favorite songs.
Recently when I have been crying or just needing to calm down, this song is what I first listen to. In my perspective, I think it focuses on just passing the storm. That the storm is over. And I hope that in my life, that storm will soon pass.
I like to think that I am a person who emits energy and overall happiness and I think that this song defines who I am. I have my dark days and the days that I truly do not want to get out of bed, but eventually, I get up and I move on.
I have been blessed with such an amazing support system and am so thankful. But sometimes, I think just being with yourself and truly just crying for once is such a good stress reliever. I am definitely a people person. When I am crying, I go to people for help. But sometimes, I just lay in bed crying to myself.
This song gives me hope that this storm in my life will pass.