California Experience

I got the chance to visit my friend that goes to UCLA this past week and it was great! When I was there I couldn’t help but notice that their school is so different than OU. I obviously knew that it was going to be slightly different but I wasn’t expecting the differences to be so noticeable. The first thing I noted was that the students dressed different than my usual oversized t-shirt and leggings. When I was getting ready in the mornings I always tried to choose something that I thought would fit in the best with their campus. I ended up borrowing a lot of my friend’s clothes because my Oklahoma garb was definitely not California enough and attracted some looks. This experience with clothes made me think of my time in Italy because I would go through the same processes there, except even when I tried I was still obviously a tourist. At least with the help of my friend, I fit in in California… At least I think I did.

Thanksgiving- Harmless Tradition or Senseless Sacrament?

Slate released a series of articles reviewing U.S. events in the language and critique our media applies to the events of other countries. Joshua Keating, in his article “If It Happened There… America’s Annual Festival Pilgrimage Begins,” paints an unorthodox picture of a holiday that we, as Americans, never dare to question. 

Comfort food. Reunions with relatives long-unseen. Gratitude for the hardships endured by our ancestors and the help they recieved. For us, these things make Thanksgiving a generally well-liked and uncontroversial holiday. I mean, it would take a lot of cynicism to slam a day centered on family and mutual appreciation, right? I cannot complain about the festivities I engaged in this past Thursday.

What if you realized, though, that the same harsh criticism and utilitarianistic stance required to disillusion the lovely tradition of Thanksgiving was being used by the media daily to describe happenings in other countries? It would make you think twice about your long-established ideas  regarding the actions and qualities of foreign groups.

Although I think there’s some value in looking at things critically, it’s equally important to give a fair representation of events and people elsewhere, one not drowning in negativity nor immersed in fluffy romanticism. As consumers of mass media, it’s easy to buy into the perceptions that the newspapers and television networks feed us. We are surrounded by stories– on our phone, laptops, TVs, radios– that can easily be watered down or exaggerated versions of truths occurring thousands of miles away from us.

So what’s the solution? How can we resist media falsehoods and seek the truth for ourselves? There really isn’t a catch-all answer. I think, though, that it’s good to continue to follow news coverage and internet articles, but with a grain of salt. No matter how skewed a story may be, there has to be some truth in it for it to exist right? Nothing beats finding the truth like experience, though. If you really want to be secure in your awareness of the world, you have to go out into it and see cultures and customs and circumstances in the flesh. Only then can you know the real truth.


photo courtesy of HonestlyYum “A Midsummer Celebration”


SecondWind Coffee Shop

During the chat with the global engagement fellows I was interested to hear about others’ experiences while abroad because each was so different than my own. The part that stood out to me most was all of the different marriage proposals to people in a variety of different places. In Italy, I didn’t experience anything like that probably because I look similar to the people, I was in a large group, and it is a much more touristy location. I assume the locals were accustom to us and understandably did not have the urge to propose. I also was excited to hear some of the freshman’s experiences abroad and the travels of others before college because they were in a different environment than actually studying abroad. While they are both great experiences, it was interesting to see how they varied.

Dealing with Diversity Issues Abroad

Weekly Reflection October 15th, 2015 | Although this isn’t new, with my possible summer study abroad trip on the horizon, I think it’s wise to keep these issues fresh in my mind. Plus, factors of diversity and issues surrounding them are always interesting and relevant. | 

Learning about different diversity issues that Americans have experienced while studying abroad was eye-opening and disillusioning. It’s easy to overlook the possible negatives that come with encountering a new culture and only see the exciting and formative aspects (of which there are many). Also, this topic brought my attention to factors that I never would have considered a source of diversity issues. For example, even though I realize that religion has been a big source of conflict in the past, I never thought that it would be an individual issue for a short-term trip abroad. Maybe this is because in America, your religion doesn’t necessarily define your culture. Also, religion is not something that you casually ask about in conversation. I read many accounts in the long article about travelers who felt like they were treated differently because they practiced a different religion than the primary one of the area. The only time I’ve ever slightly felt like the religious minority was when I went to Catholic school starting in the 6th grade and was not religious. However, I was still welcomed and never felt socially excluded or judged. Next, although I’m not consumed with worry about being a minority in some way overseas, I’m definitely more alert about diversity issues and will be more prepared to deal with them if they arise. After reading that article about diversity issues, my main concern is being a woman in countries where men are more forward or have false ideas about American sexuality. I’m prepared to be alert and confident about seeking help if I’m ever in a situation where I feel threatened or uncomfortable. Ultimately, I think it’s smart to be on your guard wherever you are— whether it’s the U.S. or the other side of the world.


photo courtesy of


Homes Out Of Horcruxes

          There is something to be said about building homes in more places than one. It brings a lot of heartache, but also comes with a lot of joy. I’ve held onto the place my heart blossomed in Sioux Falls, SD; I’ve crafted a life for myself out of nothing in the little town of Norman, OK; I’ve fallen in love with an entire family in Bratislava, Slovakia; I’ve been shown love greater than any racial or social boundaries in Usa River, Tanzania; and I have people I think about daily in Morocco and Jordan. I’ve spent my entire lift splitting myself into as many pieces as possible because I am incapable of choosing one place to rest my soul. I’m actually starting to feel like Voldemort, although hopefully slightly less corrupted and narcissistic. Despite the whole chasing after racial genocide, Voldemort represents the way I feel and what I have done to myself more than any other literary entity floating out there. He split himself into pieces so he wouldn’t lose himself, just as I have done. I have this profound fear that if I choose only one home I am destined to find myself crushed under the weight of could-have-beens and what-ifs. I think most people are like that: we fear missed opportunity more than we fear losing what we already have. This is a battle I have fought my entire life.
          The first year of college I tried letting go of home (by home I mean Sioux Falls). I poured all of my energy into Oklahoma, striving to build a strong foundation, a foundation upon which I could take care of myself. I forged paths that only I could know, I gathered the secrets of my previous life and cast them aside, rejecting every reminder that I had ever had a home before. But, every time I returned, I was reminded of the souls that thrived there that continuously encouraged me to pursue my dreams (Serenah, Devon, and Jordan: I’m talking about you). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found countless souls like that too in Oklahoma, but the beauty that set the Sioux Falls souls apart from the Oklahoma souls was that we had history. They beamed with me when I got punched in the face and they knew all the reasons why I constantly want to reject authority and they held my heart together when I couldn’t keep it together myself. So, even though I gave having a one-track mind a shot, places like Black Sheep and Coffea and Tuthill Park reminded me that I just wasn’t that type of person.
          So here I am, choosing to divide my soul into pieces and scatter it around the globe. I remember distinctly a moment in Tanzania when my host Baba arrived over an hour early to pick me and my ‘sister’ Megan up. He said it was because he was our father and he would always be there for us. Who was I to reject that kind of unconditional love? And in Slovakia, my real sister’s sisters and I all held hands and obnoxiously sang pop songs all the way down a mountain. Why? Not because we were just friends for the time I was there, but because we were and still are family.
          This isn’t saying that I haven’t cut things out of my life. I’ve burned a lot of bridges, most of them unnecessarily, but burned they still remain. I’ve lost things out of fear and out of apathy, although I don’t know which one is worse. To be the first hand to let go is truly a tragedy, and a reflection of the selfishness of our spirits. But there’s forgiveness in spite of that, whether it comes from yourself, those you let go of, or the God that created them. If you were on one of the bridges I have burned, I am truly sorry. I’ll live my whole life trying to pay you back.
          As a global citizen, we have to gorilla glue parts of ourselves to every connection we have around the world. Because if we don’t, we further the idea that people who look different on the outside are also different on the inside. Let me give you a hint: WE AREN’T. The heart beat of my Jordanian friend sounds just the same as mine, especially if your eyes are closed. So does my heart burn with pain over the lives I love that I can’t be with everyday? Yes. Do my eyes see more of the world with a glossy film over them? Yes. But would I trade any of it to only have one address saved on my phone under ‘home’? No. I wouldn’t. I can’t.
          I hope you pour everything you have into everyone you meet. I hope you invest in their lives as if they are the most precious commodities in the world, because, believe it or not, they are. Out of unwillingness or incapability, they might not give back, but please don’t let that stop you. I can promise you it will hurt to build homes around the world, but I can also promise you this: no matter how excruciating it gets, you will not break, you will not shatter, you will not fall, because the very second you start to think about it, you will have an infinite number of people holding you together. If you have burned too many bridges to believe that you are capable of love like this, I promise you can find it again. I promise you can be made whole. I certainly have.

Reflection for 11/12/2015

As one of the assignments for the Becoming Globally Engaged class, students are expected to respond to reflection prompts on a weekly basis. Here is the prompt and my response for the week of November 12, 2015.

How do you hope to incorporate your experiences as a Global Engagement Fellow into your future career? How much of an impact do you think it will make? What will you do to maximize its impact?

As of yet, I’m completely torn between what I want to do with my future and what I want  my career to be. Although I’m deciding between such different fieldsmarine biology, premed,  or international studies, or nutrition???, I still hope to find a profession that will enable me to  connect and work globally. Being a Global Engagement Fellow is going to give me an enormous  amount of international experience, and I hope to use this to attract future employers and show  them that I may have a broader understanding of the global community. I feel as this has  potential to be an asset in future careers, wherever I end up.

However, to maximize the impact, I need to be as involved as I can. To me, this includes  looking for more on campus clubs to join, to attending more international events, learning  another language, and looking for internships I can have while I study abroad. Learning another  language, one of the requirements of being a Global Engagement Fellow, I think will increase  my success in future prospects and open up some opportunities that I wouldn’t be afforded if I  could only speak English.

There are a couple languages I hope to become proficient in, including German, Italian,  and Armenian. I also have interest in learning Arabic. I feel as though all of these can be of great  use in my future career.

If I were to pursue the career of biology, I would hope to utilize my Global Engagement  experience to help me while I am a field biologist, traveling to different places to study wildlife.  It would hopefully aid me in possibly being a field biologist for a global  or research  institute.

As for premed or nutrition prospects, I’ve often considered being a doctor without  borders, or possibly working for an organization that deals with human health globally. I could  use my experience as a lobal ngagement ellow to travel many places and gain experience  and understanding of other cultures. This would aid me immensely if I wanted to be a traveling doctor.

Reflection for 10/29/2015

As one of the assignments for the Becoming Globally Engaged class, students are expected to respond to reflection prompts on a weekly basis. Here is the prompt and my response for the week of October 29, 2015. This reflection was a bit different than the others, as it was used to have a debate in class and essentially decide which organization would receive a $100 and $20 donation from the Global Engagement organization.

Review the following four organizations. Which do you feel should receive a $100 donation? Why? You are expected to do some additional research into all 4 groups; their pages are hyperlinked below, and you’re also welcome to bring in additional research.

Cornerstone International, an Oklahoma-based development consulting firm that focuses on encouraging and promoting efficient, productive development efforts around the world.

Susan G. Komen,  an organization whose mission is “to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering others, ensuring quality care for all and investing in science to find the cures.”

Give Directly, a charity that sends money directly to the world’s extreme poor to spend however they need it – with no strings attached.

Against Malaria Foundation, which provides long-lasting insecticde-treated bed nets to help protect vulnerable populations from malaria.

When deciding which organization ought to receive a  donation, it ultimately came  down to the Give Directly organization and the Against Malaria Foundation. The Cornerstone  International, although intriguing and based in Oklahoma, works to help people begin and form  new organizations abroad. I personally believe that instead of working to create new  organizations that may potentially fail or be ineffective, people ought to donate to organizations  that already have been shown to be effective and are doing good. As for the Susan G. Komen  organization, I feel as though there are too many controversies and arguments surrounding the  organization. Furthermore, a company that huge is already going to have millions of donors  every year, and I feel as though a less represented company ought to receive the donation.

That is why my decision came down to the Give Directly organization. This organization  gives donated money directly to the people in need, allowing them to allocate the funds to  whatever they need most, whether it is food, clothing, water, or shelter needs. Following this  course of action, the charity accommodates for the ever changing needs that one in poverty might  face instead of providing aid and services for a cause the family may not even be troubled by.   W

While some sources such as Giving What We Can might claim that Give Directly is not  as effective as they say, I still would argue that this almost knit picking could be said about any  charity. I also believe that enabling people on the receiving end of donations to put the money  where they need it most is the best course of action and takes the risk away from a foreign  organization assuming what the needs of the people are. Poverty should not mean that one only  gets the help that charity organizations decide they deserve.


Reflection for 10/22/2015

As one of the assignments for the Becoming Globally Engaged class, students are expected to respond to reflection prompts on a weekly basis. Here is the prompt and my response for the week of Oct 22, 2015.

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?

At face ­value, Peter Singer presents a very convincing argument filled with ethos-­based and yet  extremely pragmatic rhetoric. He hits on the sympathetic aspect of things, asking, “If you would  save a baby right in front of you, why not save a baby in another country?” Then he asks, “Why  provide 1 seeing­eye dog, when you could save thousands of blind people? He then goes on to  say and promote the idea that “All Lives are Equal”. and this is where I begin to disagree with his  arguments. Inherently in the string of belief that one ought to be utilitarian in their approach to  charity, lives become unequal. The lives that are essentially cheaper and more efficient to save  become the more valuable ones. Suddenly 10,000 lives in a country overseas become more  valuable than 5,000 lives in the United States, and if one only follows this logic, they will end up  totally avoiding a group of people who, in that case, have had the misfortune of being born in the  country with a currency equal to or more valuable than the American dollar. Essentially, taking a  utilitarian point of view on things means that the ends completely outweigh the means, and  when human lives are at hand, this becomes intrinsically immoral, no matter how pragmatic.

With that said, I do feel obligated to help those in need in that I feel that people ought to give  back to the societies in which they were raised. When I could buy a six dollar coffee from  Starbucks, I could also buy a t shirt for a child wearing rags, or a dinner for someone less  fortunate. Because of my religious beliefs, also, I feel that helping those in need is the right thing  to do and I do have a moral obligation to spread love and attempt to make the world a better  place.

I like the idea that it is possibly more beneficial to physically volunteer in one’s own society  while giving actual money to foreign ones, and that is the road I’ll take in my charity efforts.

Reflection for 10/8/2015

As one of the assignments for the Becoming Globally Engaged class, students are expected to respond to reflection prompts on a weekly basis. Here is the prompt and my response for the week of October 8, 2015.


What are your biggest fears or reservations about study abroad? What can you do to address them? How can we help?

My biggest fears and reservations about studying abroad are simply leaving the comfort  of the place I’ve grown up with. I have orman, klahoma under my belt I know the knooks  and crannies of the city, the people and how they act and respond to certain things, and where to  find almost anything I could think of. Being in the United States, there’s not much I’m afraid of  in the sense that I can always find a alart, a fast food restaurant, or a gas station. I know  that, for the most part, the police are trustworthy and help is plentiful.

Going to another country to live and function opens up so many questions and concerns  in that there are going to be things I simply do not know how to do. This is what scares me, not  knowing the land and the features of the city, or the general attitude and personality of the  people. There are things in America that I am afraid I will miss when I’m abroad. There are also  things that I’m afraid I am taking advantage of and will come to find do not exist globally.

Hearing stories from the past panelists about scary traffic situations, different  environments in restaurants, and figuring about public transit all give me a great amount of  anxiety as much as it brings me excitement. You can’t order a cold coffee in Italy?

All these things aside, my only option on the road to being globally engaged is, for lack  of better words, sucking up my spoiled American persona and learning to live and experience a  little. Regardless of how scary these things initially will be, it is part of experiencing the world  and growing as a person, and I will be enlightened by it.

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International Events: “Soccer, Sex and Scandal in Brazil”

“Soccer, Sex and Scandal in Brazil” was a lecture given by anthropologist and author  Don Kulick on Tuesday, November 17. It detailed the scandal of the famous soccer star Ronaldo and his adventurous night  with three “travesties”, which Kulick described as men who decide that they want to dress like  women and get plastic surgery to look like women, however they have no desire to remove their  penis, nor do they identify as females, such as transgenders in the United States.

The scandal around Ronaldo developed not because he hired prostitutes, but because the  prostitutes, including Andrea Albertino, were travesties. Andrea leaked the situation to the press, causing the scandal. I thought it was interesting how Kulick described the concept of  sexuality in Brazil, especially for men, how a general line of thought is that as long as man is  acting as the “penetrator”, and doesn’t get penetrated, he is still “straight”, even if he is having  sex with a man. However, there is also a question brought up, that if a man wanted a woman, and  not a man dressed as a woman, then why hire a travestie? This is why Ronaldo fell under so  much scrutiny, as the Brazilian public questioned his sexuality, and in turn his manhood.

The idea of “I’m not gay unless I am penetrated” seems strange to me, as an American,  where the societal view on sexuality is that performing intercourse with one of the same sex  constitutes the sexuality of the act. In Brazil, however, there are very blurred lines between all of  this. Travesties are known as beautiful, and some of them have become famous and are very well  known  in Brazil. Ronaldo claimed that he didn’t know the prostitutes were travesties, however  Kulick explained that not only do travesties advertise in districts, they are also very recognizable  by Brazilian natives by the way they dress and act. This whole lecture has made me think of the  different ways that sexuality is viewed around the world. It seems odd to me that it was not the  act of hiring prostitutes which gave Ronaldo a bad rep, but rather the fact that he might be gay  when so many men look up to him.

In the future I hope to attend more lectures such as this one. I like hearing experts in their field give lessons over issues around the world, as it is both hard to come by someone so specialized, and I find that these lectures often highlight things that I didn’t realize were issues.

Andrea Albertino
Andrea Albertino, source:–discover-MEN.html