Barcelona

This past weekend I visited Barcelona, Spain. After taking a 3 hour train to Rome and a 2 hour flight over, I got in on a Tuesday night. However, you couldn’t tell it was only a week night because there were people out and about well past midnight. My first impression was that Barcelona was beautiful and awesome. And it was spot on. Barcelona is definitely the most unique city I have been to, full of art and cool looking buildings. Gaudi is an amazing architect who designed several buildings and a park in the city. At night there is a fountain known as the Magic Fountain that has an incredible shows full of vibrant colors. The typical food there is Paella, which is rice with seafood and tapas, which are basically snack-sized portions of food. I visited Park Guell, which was colorful and had all kinds of musaiics and a gingerbread looking house. The Sagrada Familia was very big and pretty. There were random squares with people socializing everywhere. The beach was fantastic and was actually man made with sand imported from North Africa. Overall, Barcelona was my favorite city so far!

Reflection #9

Hello friends!  This week’s reflection is my favorite reflection question so far! The prompt is stated below, followed by my response.

What do you think of Peter Singer’s arguments? Do you feel obligated to help those in need? Why or why not? If so, what are you going to do about it? If not, how would you support your reasoning to someone who sided with Singer?

I found Peter Singer’s arguments very interesting. He brings up many valid points throughout his talk that caused me to really think about my actions and how I can help those in need. I feel one hundred percent obligated to help those in need. In my life, I have been given everything; I have never felt what it is like to be hungry, thirsty, or homeless. One of my life goals directly correlates with the topics that are being discussed in class. Ever since I visited Guatemala on a mission trip in the 11th grade, I have wanted to help the people of Guatemala in any way I can. I am currently studying to be a Mechanical Engineer, and I want to get a minor in Spanish. Both of these are parts of my life goal, but I really want to use both of them together. At some point in my life, I want to be able to help Guatemalans receive the clean water that all humans deserve. In order to do this, a Mechanical Engineering degree would allow me to be able to think of ways to bring clean water to Guatemalans. Fluency in Spanish would also be necessary because I would need to communicate with local Guatemalans and with other engineers. I met a boy my age named Xavi in Guatemala. Xavi and I still stay in touch; we talk weekly on Facebook. Xavi has shared with me the hardships of living in Guatemala and how difficult it is to receive an education. Xavi also wants to be an engineer, but he does not have the resources to do so. However, he actually has an interview this week with a representative from a small college in Arkansas. I am so excited for him, and I hope his interview goes well. Along with bringing water to poor places in Guatemala, I also want to help individuals like Xavi to achieve their dreams by receiving an education.

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Meeting at Second Wind

Recently a lot of global engagement fellows gathered at Second Wind coffee shop and discussed stories they have from travelling abroad. This was easily my favorite global engagement event I have been to. Some really cool stories were told, and I even got to talk about getting lost in Japan. It was great listening to some of the things people had done, but what I liked the most was having an impromptu discussion in Japanese with another Fellow and the iced coffee concentrate. Overall, I am really happy that I got to experience this and can’t wait to do similar things with the program.

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Critical Language Scholarship Meeting

This meeting was about a scholarship that I was thinking about taking for when I go to Japan called the Critical Language Scholarship. It is sponsored by the U.S. state department, and is meant to get Americans to learn languages the government thinks are important for the future of the country. The meeting was very informative, and the scholarship would be really nice to have for someone who really wanted to improve their language skills while overseas, like I want to do in Japan. The problem is that it is offered for the summer, and I wish to travel to Japan for a whole semester and some other country over the summer. Because of this it looks like I probably wont try for this scholarship, but it is still nice knowing about it encase something else comes up.

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Perception of Beauty

The purpose of this event was to discuss various topics involving beauty across multiple countries. There were 4 guest speakers, all female. I am probably not spelling their names correctly, but here’s my best shot: San lee from South Korea, Nicole from Chile, Marimi from a small difficult to hear country in Eastern Europe, and Paya from Namibia. I don’t have space here to discuss everything talked about, so I will focus on what I considered the most interesting: the extreme prevalence of plastic surgery in South Korea. I had heard about this, but never known just how much more common it is there than here in the U.S. For example, it is not uncommon to give a highschool graduation gift of plastic surgery there, something I had never even heard of over here. People from neighboring countries visit SK just to get plastic surgery, and the most common operation is eyelid surgery to make an eye look more “western”. Acording to the New York Times, it is estimated that 1/5 to 1/3 of the women in Seoul (the capital of SK) have undergone surgery. As a closing note, one thing all four guest speakers agreed on was that the pressure to be beautiful is much higher in their home countries than in the United States.

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German Poesieabend

On Friday, October 23rd I had the pleasure of attending the German Poesieabend in the Union. There were several students and teachers who performed German poetry, songs, and fairy tales.

I was truly blown away by some of the poetry and songs that were performed. The immense amount of emotion and care that people took in reciting famous German poetry and songs and even writing their own original works was fantastic and inspirational.

The first full performer I saw prefaced his performance with the fact that he could not find instrumental accompaniment for the song he was going to sing and apologized, but he surprised the entire room as soon as he began. His operatic voice needed absolutely no supplement, it was such a booming and emotional sound. I was blown away, as was the rest of the room.

I had never encountered such a concentration of German poetry before, but at this event I realized how beautiful a tool the language is for artistic expression, as it somehow captured my emotions and feelings even though I couldn’t always understand precisely what was being said.  I am to the point in my knowledge of the German language where I cannot quite recognize every spoken word, but I know enough that I understand most words and the main ideas of each piece, and I understood the beginner pieces very well. My friend Nicholas from my German class played his guitar and sang, and he was really good. There was also a class of German 1115 taught by an Austrian teacher who performed a few fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, and they were fun (and really funny) to watch.

I think it’s awesome how there is so much German heritage that has been absorbed into American culture, yet many Americans don’t even realize it.  I’m so excited to continue learning German, because as amazing as I thought the more  performances were, I’m sure they would have been even better if I could have retained every word.

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Cooking with Xuelian

A few weeks ago, I contacted my OU Cousin with the intention of catching up. We text intermittently, but for about six months, we hadn’t seen each other at all, and I hate that. It seems like convenience wins over everything, and because we never bump into one another on campus or happen to both be studying in the library, we don’t see much of each other. In my message to her, I proposed that we cook some traditional Chinese food, as I wanted to try it, and I enjoy cooking. She was very excited, and we went to Sprouts to buy ingredients, most of which consisted of meat (pork, beef, and chicken). Because she already had a large cabinet of sauces and spices at her apartment, that’s where we went, and she introduced me to her lovely roommate, also from China. It was such a genuine and fulfilling experience, and I must say that the dishes were both nice to look at and delicious to eat. In the corner of the first photo are packets of Chinese tea; I’ve already had about half of them, as they’re packed with caffeine and have helped me get up for my 8:30 physics class. :)

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Memories of Auschwitz

Last week, I spent the weekend in Krakow, Poland with another student from OUA. Krakow was the setting for Steven Spielberg’s movie “Schindler’s List” (I highly recommend it if you’ve never seen it). An hour outside of Krakow lies a site of infamy, the Auschwitz concentration camp. We were able to visit several hours before our plane left, but I wish we had had more time. IMG_3926 The camp is split up into several parts; the main concentration camp was were people were housed (the buildings had since been converted into museums) while a couple miles down the road was the extermination camp. We got there at 7:30 in the morning to avoid crowds, and it was very foggy — giving the place an even more ominous atmosphere. Many of the buildings within this section had been converted into museums; nearly every country that had been affected by the Holocaust had their own building, including Austria, France, the Netherlands, and Italy. IMG_8075

All of the museums were very well curated, each with a unique set up. The one that personally affected me the most was the the building dedicated to Israel. When you walked through the door you heard children singing in Hebrew, while in the next room over it showed video clips of many children and families before the Holocaust. The room that really made you stop though was this empty room with white walls. In a row, at about waist high, was a series of children’s drawings that had been recreated from ones drawn during the war. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see these drawings, listening to the young voices singing, only to read a plaque saying that 1.5 million Jewish children perished in the Holocaust.

IMG_8070The concentration camp was very well put together and the attention to detail was simply astounding. I really liked the concept of having each country have their own building that explained how they were personally affected by the Holocaust. I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity, or even the desire, to visit again, but I’m so grateful that I got to visit Auschwitz.