What book has helped shape your perspective on the global community?

During the summer of 2013 my AP Literature and Composition class was assigned to read the book “The Poisonwood Bible”. I had heard groans of this book from the previous class and was not at all looking forward to it. However, by the second day of class, I learned that this book was going to change my life.
For those of you who haven’t read it, “The Poisonwood Bible” follows a missionary family as they move to the Congo in the 1959. The father, the righteous, trail blazer, is a Southern Baptist preacher, the mother is a southern belle wooed by the beauty of Christianity, and the four children, Rachel, Adah, Lea, and Ruth May are doomed to whatever fate their parents choose for them by going to the Congo.
PWB altered the way I view globalization, democracy, and missions. Throughout the novel, as tragedy and triumph take place, a theme is presented: What do we aim to do with it? The “it” being the knowledge of our ancestors’ history and guilt of our own history. Before I read this book, I had never thought about the negative side of globalization; I was gung-ho for increasing interconnections between nations. However, PWB opened my eyes to the negative side of globalization, especially when it leans more towards imperialism. The whole novel was centered around the Belgian invasion of Congo; how Belgium came crashing through the jungles of the Congo, then decided to grant the Congo independence without any aid in establishing a well functioning government, and then proceeded to work Congolese people practically to death in diamond mines and rubber forests. I had thought that the democratic system of the Western world was something that would help all countries function better. However, in PWB I saw a community that was founded on mutual communication until all parties are satisfied. The method of democracy that was forced onto the community did not go well, causing inner communal conflict that ended up wrecking a lot of the villages food supply.
I also began seeing mission trips in a new light. Instead of seeing mission trips as a selfless way to fulfill one’s faith, I saw mission trips as white man’s way of giving us an excuse to enforce our ideas of governing and societal demographics on nations that have been well functioning in their own way for centuries.

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Italian Weather

While I wont know what the weather is like in Italy until I actually arrive, I can post some facts that I have found online. 

Today, in Italy, the weather was in the 50s (that’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius. They’re not dying in a fiery lake storm). In comparison, the weather at the beautiful campus of the Univerity of Oklahoma has almost reached the 80s (again in Fahrenheit). 

Personally, I believe that is enough reason to study abroad in Italy. The weather. 

I was born and raised in Oklahoma so I know all about the terrifying summers. While most people, including my grandmother, adore the summer, I despise it. I would rather be bundling up for the snow than having to deal with the heat of summer. Now, that doesn’t mean I abstain from complaining about the brutal winds and hail while walking to class. That’s horrible. 

Anyway, I found an awesome info graphic that breaks down local wether trends for Rome. Disclaimer: I understand that the weather will vary depending on where you stay.    

 

Also, this chart is in Celsius. Just to confuse everyone.

One final point I would like to make is that I chose my example of the Italian weather earlier specifically to complain about Oklahoma summers. I realize that the summer there will be warm. Just hopefully not as bad!

-AH

New Update on Current Plans

Hi all! So, unfortunately, my plans for this summer have completely changed. My Arezzo trip was cancelled due to a lack of people signing up :( I am very disappointed,  and was discouraged for awhile about continuing with the Global Engagement Program at all. There have been many uphill battles as I have been trying to organize and plan my trips. However, as of right now, I am still going to continue with the program and simply push back my summer trip to next summer or the summer after! Also, my current plan involves spending next spring semester abroad. I have narrowed down a school I really like: The University of Aberdeen in Scotland! The only nerve-wracking thing about this whole plan is my semester abroad will be my very first time out of the country, since I am not taking a trip abroad this summer. However, I think everything will still work out fine! I just have to continue to keep an open mind and think about how exciting it will be finally getting to travel and dive into another culture.

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Mexico Day 4 – Tuesday

Holy cow. I’m exhausted, my feet hurt, and I smell like raw cow meat, but life is so great! Woke up late this morning and missed breakfast, but got to help mom and Rebecca in the kitchen for lunch until the butchered cow came. We cut and cut and cut at that cow for what felt like forever, served lunch in the middle of all the chaos, then cut cow some more. Then we ground it, cooked it, dehydrated it, and did it all over again. The whole process took about nine hours, but now the children’s home will have enough meat for a whole year! The weirdest part about the whole thing was that the cow was still warm on the inside, but it wasn’t too bad if you just looked at is as a very large anatomy lesson. Around late afternoon I ran to the market with Bud, who the kids call abuelo, my mom, and Rebecca to get some extra food. We got back, cooked dinner, did some extra thorough cow blood removal and cleaning, then headed back to take another cold shower and hit the hay. Hasta mañana, Mexico.

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International Floor- Couch 3, Move-in Day

My First Day at OU

When I applied for housing, I had trouble deciding between living on the International Floor or the National Merit Floor.  I chose the International Floor because I figured it would be more interesting to live with people from around the world and because I’d have other opportunities to meet other National Merit Scholars.  I hoped to become friends with people from around the world , and that is what I did.  My roommate, Michelle Velasco Alba, is from Venezuela.  She attended UWC-Red Cross Nordic, the United World College located in Norway.  On move-in day, she immediately introduced me to one of her classmates from RCN, Emils Sietins from Latvia.  Although my parents were sad to leave for the 8-hour drive back to Saint Louis, they were happy to see that I’d already begun to make friends who seemed like a good fit for me.  That night, Michelle took me with her to a party in Traditions East that was full of students who had all attended United World Colleges around the world.  I met people from many different countries and felt so welcomed by all of them even though I hadn’t attended a UWC.  For me, it was inspiring to see such a diverse group of people gathering together here at OU, for I’d been worried about the amount of diversity in Oklahoma in general.  Being one of few Americans at a party seemed like a great start to the next years in terms of surrounding myself with people of different cultures in order to create a unique learning environment full of rich experiences.

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Mexico Day 3 – Monday

Today was our first full day at the children’s home and it was so fun! I spent all day in the kitchen with mom and Rebecca cutting fruit, baking chicken, peeling potatoes, sneaking bites of brownie, and other culinary endeavors. (My least favorite part of the dorms is their lack of a kitchen.) In between all the cooking, though, we got to play with the kids! Rauil, Miranda, Daniel, Angie, all of them are so precious! We swung, painted nails, see-sawed, played tag, and went down the slide until we were exhausted. In the kitchen, though, I got to know Dulce, an 18 year-old girl, a lot more than I did last year. She can understand English and I can understand Spanish we just can’t speak them, so I talk to her in English and she replies in Spanish and it works really well! She is the sweetest. Around mid-afternoon I rode with two of the house parents to visit Siuri, a little girl who now lives with her sister, to wish her a happy birthday. She got a pair of Frozen shoes and a beanie baby, so she was super excited! We got to see her sister’s baby, and then we headed back to the home. I cooked some more, played some more, ate some food, took a cold shower, and now I’m headed to bed. ¡Hasta mañana, Mexico!

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Mexico Day 2 – Sunday

Today was incredible. Absolutely, completely, totally incredible. We went to Pastor Joe’s church for the morning service, 80% of which was singing and dancing and praise. The Holy Spirit was so present: there was weeping, and praising, and rejoicing, which is possibly the sweetest communion one can experience with the Lord on earth! From church, we ate at a restaurant in Piedras Negras that serves authentic Mexican food. I drank lemonade and ate pico de gallo, guacamole, fresh tortillas and tortilla chips, queso, chicken, and steak until I couldn’t fit any more food into my stomach. Then we went to the market, where I bought a gorgeous blanket and some ice cream with my younger sister. We went back to the children’s home for about 15 minutes, picked up some supplies, and headed to another town, Allende, to visit Pastor Oscar’s church. The service was incredible and was such a blessing! Afterward, we set up a movie and made hotdogs, popcorn, and snocones for the kids, which was so fun! I made friends with a 12 year-old namesd Gustavo who helped me carry about 300 snocones and distribute them to other kids. He was so patient and was willing to look after the needs of others and did not complain a single time, which was really humbling for me. He was so excited to hear that I would be traveling to Africa this summer and made me promise to write him all about it! Gustavo is one of those people who affects your life long after you’ve left them. We had to say goodbye, then we packed up and came back to the home. I took a shower (super cold but hey, at least we have clean water) and now I’m about to go to bed! Buenas noches, México.

a family at Pastor Joe's church typical foot picture Pastor Joe's church my ice cream! my sister's ice cream my sister being cute with her ice cream my gorgeous blanket el centro comercial (the mall) Gustavo and I

Mexico Day 1 – Saturday

We made it! After about 30 hours, we arrived in Morelos. We got detained at the border and the trailer got searched, but I guess our little group wasn’t too sketchy, so they let us across! Ah, it was so exciting to see all the kids again! They’ve all gotten so big and I can’t believe how much time has passed. 51 weeks–a lot can happen in that time. Nancy, Juan, and Siuri are no longer at the home and have gone to live with their older siblings, which is happy and sad at the same time. The six college girls on the trip–Madison, Kaley, Caitlin, Jackie, Shelby, and I–are all staying in Casa 4, an adorable little blue house in the center of the land. There’s no hot water, but there is air conditioning, there are walls, and the doors lock, so we have it better than most people in the city. This week my job is to help my mom and Rebecca, another lady from our church, help prepare meals for the kids! I love this job because I don’t really get to cook in my dorm, so I get to see the kids a lot and do something I love! Holy cow, I love these kids. They are precious, lovable, and so so fun, and it breaks my heart to think that they were unwanted or parentless. But praise the Lord for John and Paulina, the founders of the home and an incredible reminder of how Christ took us, broken and unwanted, and showed us that we are so so loved! Well, it’s time to go to bed. ¡Hasta mañana, México!

crossing the border nuestra casa (our house) jugando volibol (playing volleyball) jugando volibol (playing volleyball) el calle (the street)

Mr. & Miss International OU

The Mr. and Miss International OU event was held in  the Meachum Auditorium in the Student Union.  I knew a couple of the people competing, and I was very interested in seeing them present about their home countries.  I think this type of pageant event can be meaningful when there is more focus on culture and less simply on beauty, and I think this event did a good job of showcasing the student’s cultures, as they spoke about their countries, wore traditional clothing, and did a traditional dance from their countries.  I really enjoyed some of the performances.  I feel like attending this event helped me to think more about how we see our own country and how I might present it if asked by someone who knew little.  I’m rarely afforded this privilege.  I’m happy I chose to attend this event because I truly enjoyed the cultural aspect and I enjoyed cheering on the girl competing from the International Floor, Couch 3E– Juliana.  Most of the talent performances were nice to watch, as well.

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Taste of Brazil at Couch Restaurants

I attended the Taste of Brazil event held at the Caf to learn more about Brazil because OU has a very active community of Brazilian exchange students.  I had already met a few students, so I decided to attend this even.  There was lots of dancing, some singing, guitar playing, some students speaking about their country, and food.  I really enjoyed learning more about Brazil through this event, and it was easy to attend, as I live in Couch.  My favorite part of the event was the presentation about the country and the food.  We enjoyed various foods including plantains and a typical dish with meat and rice.  Overall, this was a worthwhile event to attend and I learned more about the beautiful country of Brazil.  Also, the after party was fun!

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