Today I attended a meeting talking about the Boren Scholarship at the Honors College. I’m not sure if I want to apply for the scholarship, because it mandates a year of service to the government after graduation. I plan on going to medical school after graduation, so I don’t know if this is a scholarship for me, but it sounds like a great opportunity for those interested in government service.
Today I went to the International Bazaar with several other Global Engagement Fellows. A bunch of international student organizations were represented, and there was a lot going on. Tables were set up to sell different international items, and there were people doing henna as well as face painting. There were also several cultural performances throughout the day. It was a great time!
Last week I had my mid-semester meeting for the Global Engagement Fellowship. I thought that the meeting went really well, and I was glad that my ideas for becoming more globally engaged were discussed and understood. It was nice to get feedback on those goals, and I appreciated that I got to explain them as opposed to just turn them in as an assignment. I was also pleased and slightly relieved to know that my digital storytelling idea and transcript are good, and I’m excited to complete the project and watch what everyone else will create. My transcript needs work, but mostly I just need to figure out how to shorten it and make it less of a summarization. I know that I will be able to do this with the implementation of visuals, but it’s still difficult to know exactly what to keep and leave out when I have so much to convey about my topic.
So far, I would say my semester is going pretty well. Last week, I changed my major from undecided to Psychology, after realizing that I spend way too much of my time thinking and talking about human psychology to not be taking a class on the subject. I was advised last week on enrollment for next semester, and I’m excited to start my foreign language, German. I know it will take a while to become proficient in German, but I have a good friend who is from Germany and I hope that by practicing with her I will progress quickly.
Something that has worried me a little about this first semester of college is my GPA. I was proud of my 4.0 in high school, even though I only had to work really hard in a few of my classes. In college I am more concerned with gaining the knowledge over a grade, but I can’t help but be anxious about my first B, because it seems closer than I think. I have been studying really hard and utilizing many on-campus tools, it’s just that some concepts, especially in my chemistry class, are hard for me to grasp at a level where I can make an A on the exam. It seems silly, and I know it won’t make a huge impact on my life to not have a 4.0 in my undergrad years, but it still stresses me out.
Goals that I have for this semester are therefore just to work as hard as I can and continue to study diligently, and not be too upset if I don’t get all As in my harder classes. I have a great chemistry study group of about ten people, so I’ll continue meeting with them often and working out how to do well, even if doing well is a B and not an A in the class. I know that I can still make fine grades, and the most important thing to remember is that 100 years from now it won’t matter that I didn’t make perfect grades. What really matters to me is that I do my best.
This post contains two reflections for an assignment–one about a choreo-dance performance of Mia Couto’s “The Birds of God,” and one about a TED talk by David Damburger on what happens when an NGO (non-governmental organization) admits failure.
I thought the performance of Mia Couto’s “The Birds of God” was stunning. When I heard that it was going to be a choreo-dance performance, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I had certainly enjoyed reading the short story the night before. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was about on a deeper level, but I knew I enjoyed the descriptive language and the story itself.
The performance added a new element to the story: the short story was read aloud by a narrator and a few actors (for the voice of the main character and his wife), but most of the performance starred dancers. I loved the pairing of the music with the dances–in happy scenes, the music was upbeat, and in quieter scenes, the music was softer and more gentle. The dancers were incredibly talented, especially those who played the first male bird as well as the main character, Timba. I found it interesting that I didn’t find myself guessing which dancers were portraying which characters–they way they moved told Couto’s story elegantly and with impressive clarity. After the show, it was especially interesting to hear Couto speak to the audience, and I was glad that he found the performance as compelling and complementary to his story as I did. Really, it was just an incredibly impressive combination of talent: the speakers, the dancers, the musicians (pre-recorded, but still), as well as Couto’s writing, of course, transformed the short story into something truly enjoyable and interesting.
I appreciated this TED talk, much more than the one by Peter Singer about effective altruism. This one seemed much more candid and raw, and it didn’t seem to insist on making people feel guilty. David Damburger, the speaker, even seemed to be having a bit of a hard time doing the talk, because it focused on the failure of a group he worked with extensively. I think it’s important, though, that people like Damburger are sharing their stories about failure in international aid program. Slowly, his story and others’ stories are changing the way we think about NGO’s and international aid programs. We’re starting to see them in a more negative light, but I think that’s okay. We’re learning to become healthily skeptical of these organizations and cautious about where we give our money and our time. I don’t think this is selfish (as Peter Singer might have his audience believe) but rather, it shows some conscientiousness in the way we’re thinking about helping others. Of course, we all want to help people–we want kids in Malawi to have clean drinking water–but we want to make sure that the way we help is actually helpful. I’m glad David Damburger gave this TED talk, because once we’re educated about what international organizations actually do (and how they sometimes fail), we can start helping people in a more conscientious, long-term-focused way.
Have you gone on an international volunteer trip before?
If so, how did it compare with the criticisms you encountered this week? What is your reaction to that?
If not, are you interested in doing international service in the future? Why or why not? If so, how will you approach it? What will you look for? Did this class’s articles, videos, and discussions influence your thinking?
I have not yet had the opportunity of being involved with an international volunteer trip. I started volunteer work in the beginning of my high school career. Although I spent many hours volunteering at a couple of hospitals in Oklahoma, I also spent several hours volunteering for food drives and other events throughout the past few years. Volunteering has definitely helped me become more giving and empathetic towards others; thus, doing international service in the future does grabs my interest. It is a bit more difficult to find international volunteer opportunities during my study abroad journeys since I am not familiar with the countries and their people. I have to admit that I am more drawn to volunteer programs rather than charities, because I can be sure that my time spent volunteering will have a positive impact on someone’s life. I have been looking online for some volunteer programs in South Korea; however, I have yet to find a program that grabs my attention. Most of such organizations do not have much description about the program goals, thus leading me to think that these organizations may not be reliable—I may be wrong, but it is much easier to decide on the program quality once I get to South Korea. If I cannot find a reliable program by next summer, I will ask my CESL partner, who is from South Korea, to help me find some volunteer opportunities during my stay. Hopefully he will be able to introduce me to some reliable organizations.
Meet freshman Supriya Sridhar, and hear her thoughts on using social media as well as traditional media.
On October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month ended with an awesome finale in the Union Courtyard. I watched traditional hispanic dance performances while eating delicious hispanic desserts and snacks. I hope to attend more cultural events in the future. I hope to attend both fun expressions of culture, like this event, as well as informative international talks.
I watched the TED Talk about the three reasons malaria hasn’t been eradicated yet. I felt like I had ample knowledge of malaria and its causes, but this video showed me that I clearly had no idea of what malaria was all about. Sure, I knew that malaria and poverty were tied together and that poor places had a higher chance of getting malaria, but I had no idea that the people affected by the disease didn’t actually find it to be a huge epidemic like the Western world does. I also did not know that the cure for malaria existed and has existed for hundreds of years. I figured that we were somewhere close to finding the cure for malaria, but apparently there are seven different forms that malaria can take on that are genetically different from one another and can fight off most drugs. I thought the malaria campaigns in the 20th century were extremely successful and saved many lives, but it actually did more harm than good because of the aforementioned problem with malaria’s several different forms.
I was extremely confused about the infected areas’ handling of malaria as if it weren’t a huge problem until she compared it to the cold and flu. Many people in the US die from colds and the flu every year, even though catching either is really preventable. Things as simple as washing one’s hands more often can prevent the flu from spreading. Getting rid of the flu and colds completely is possible if everyone wore surgical masks whenever they went outside. However, we don’t do that because it seems excessive and everyone catches the flu or a cold at some point anyways and most of us don’t die. That is similar to the way people affected by malaria view malaria nets. The majority of people who catch malaria do not die, but so many places are affected that the death count is still really high. Not to mention that malaria nets, just like surgical masks, are extremely imposing and hinder day-to-day (or in malaria nets’ case, nightly) activities.
Midway through the semester, I had a meeting to regroup and evaluate the progress I had made over the past two months as part of the Global Fellows program. As one of the first class of fellows, it was very helpful to be given a clear timeline of our goals and expectations over the next four years. My favorite part of the meeting was receiving my “passport” with those same goals listed as destinations to be stamped upon completion. This is a perfect way to keep track of my responsibilities as a fellow over the course of my time at Oklahoma and abroad.
Speaking with Jaci was enlightening as far as learning more about the time I’ll be spending abroad. She fully supports my decision to study in London, England or Arezzo, Italy for a year as well as in Germany for a summer journalism program. Since I am ahead in my classes, a year abroad won’t put me behind too much or at all. Most of all, the opportunity to study in London, one of the most vibrant, modern, and dynamic cities in the world, for a year is too amazing to pass up. There really are no downsides to this decision to study abroad; all I can see are ways in which it will broaden my perspective and truly enhance my learning experience.
The most exciting facts I learned were concerning the Fulbright program, which I had previously known next to nothing about. In addition to teaching English, there are programs to research and even to intern abroad. One of the most appealing factors is that, since the program can be very competitive, it is also fully funded. Obviously the founders and organizers believe in the power and importance of continued education, research, and work abroad and thus are willing to invest in students who show the dedication and passion to pursue that path. Hopefully in three years, as a Global Fellow, I will fit into that category of young people and will pursue my passions abroad as part of the Fulbright program.
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