Entrada 2: Estimad@ Editor@

Estimad@ Editor@:

 

En el 23 de enero, había un artículo publicado en El País sobre la desaparición de la sección en español desde la página web de la nueva Casa Blanca en los Estados Unidos. El artículo, escrito por Silvia Ayuso, ha adecuadamente comunicado la sombría realidad en los EE.UU. sobre la inmigración, caracterización racial y étnica, y la administración presidencial sin precedentes. Vivo en un estado en el centro de los EE.UU., y, casi cada día, oigo opiniones de personas que se reflejan verdaderamente las actitudes y acciones de Presidente Trump y su administración – algunas de estas personas incluye los ambos de mis padres. Estoy de acuerda con el tono sutilmente preocupado de este artículo en El País por Sra. Ayuso.

Hay algunas frases que demuestran el efecto negativo que la autora ha percibido sobre este tema; por ejemplo, alguna de estas oraciones dice que “La Casa Blanca ya es solo la White House”. Desafortunadamente, aun sin tanta opinión en esta declaración, la base de la frase tiene la verdad. La mayoría de la gente que Trump ha seleccionado para formar una parte de su administración o gabinete son personas blancas y ricas. También, significa mucho que Sra. Ayuso menciona el anterior presidente, Barack Obama, muchas veces. Con sus referencias a “los dos mandatos de Obama”, represente que ella, con la posibilidad de representar una parte de la población española, todavía está pensando en como esta situación podría ocurrir (represente una parte de la población Americana, también). Finalmente, una de las frases que sigue demostrar el aspecto negativo de esta transición es escrito así: “La única expresión en español que usó el entonces candidato republicano fue el despectivo bad hombres…”

En general, este artículo explica la reputación que este liderazgo político está creando por sí mismo en relación con los hispanohablantes y a países sobre el mundo. Todavía siento orgullo para la gente americana, quien siempre luchará para sus creencias, pero es más difícil ahora mismo tener orgullo de mi país. Gracias a El País y a la autora Silvia Ayuso por publicar este artículo.

 

Allison Dooley

Oklahoma

Houston 2.24.17

My Dearest Friend,

I’m so glad I got to come home and see you and others these past couple weeks. Last semester was long and I needed my time at home resting more than I can say. However, as I sit here on the plane headed back across the Pacific, I’m more excited than ever to resume my adventures in Japan. I have so much left to see and do, and I don’t want to waste the rest of my break or the upcoming semester. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I want to fully enjoy it.

While I was at home visiting, I had a frustrating realization: I don’t have many stories from my time here so far. I could talk a bit about my classes and how difficult they were. I could also talk about my general impressions of Japan and Japanese culture. Outside of that, however, I didn’t have much to say. Most of my stories ended up being stories about other people, some of which I hadn’t even witnessed. How did that happen? I know a few reasons. First, experiences don’t usually make good stories without other people in them. I’ve explored a bit and seen some places, but I usually end up going by myself. This is excellent for collecting pictures but isn’t great for stories. Also, a lot of the time people are hanging out together, there’s alcohol involved. We’re all legal, so it isn’t a problem, but the party nature of most international student interactions decreases my chances both of being involved and recounting stories of it later.

I’m not really sure what to do about this dilemma. As much as I’d rather travel Japan with a few close friends, I don’t always feel like I have that option. I don’t tend to have much success planning excursions or events, and I can’t control whether or not I’m invited to come along when someone else has planned the trip. Most of the interactions I am invited to are nights out and the like. These are fun and I try to go occasionally, but allowing them to make up all of my stories paints both my time here and myself in a bad light.

I’m trying to find opportunities to make memories that I can share, but it’s difficult. Hopefully I’ll do better this semester than last, but that doesn’t set a very high bar. Wish me luck. I’ll try to write again soon.

Sincerely,

Kestrel

Look Beyond Yourself

This semester, I decided to step out of the comfort of my own sheltered existence. For years, I was obsessed with Europe - my homeland, my calling, the place where one can walk around any city and experience a million marvels of architecture and culture in a single day.

To be frank, I never felt the urge to venture beyond, to experience or learn much about the rest of the world. It felt so unfamiliar - and foreignness is scary. I dove into my high-school level world history and human geography courses, reveling in the beauty of historical and socioeconomic trends. It was all very academic. Genghis Khan did such and such, killed a bunch of people. History from a distance - these people didn't feel much like people. Their story was a collective one, and thus abstracted beyond emotion.

Enter the course Arab Spring. Already I was intensely invested, because my sister had lived in Egypt in the year before and the year after the 2011 revolution. Her normal updates at the time morphed into reassurances that she hadn't been in the metro when security forces let off tear gas, that she had stayed in her apartment while a protest went on in the square just a few meters below. My own blood's tangential involvement meant I was more personally invested in the outcome of the history being set in motion. I followed closely on social media, watched in horror as I saw photos of bloodied protesters and read about their struggles to take back control of their own beloved country.

And, this semester, I decided to jump back in academically. The class 'Arab Spring,' taught by Dr. Joshua Landis, utilizes all sorts of perspectives with which to see this important period in Middle Eastern history. Viewing the events through economic, historic, social, and personal lenses (the result of reading academic journals, memoir-like books authored by seasoned journalists, and first-person accounts alike) weaves a series of frames into one larger story of the struggle of a people. Perhaps it is the addition of social media as a crucial narrator for the revolutions, a medium through which the very people involved can offer their thoughts, unfiltered. Or the fact that it is people my age who are putting their lives at risk to overthrow the propagators of autocracy and oppression. But the course has resulted in a strange amalgamation of academic study and personal investment in the future of the region.

I encourage us all to look beyond - if all you check each day is your social media feeds, make an effort to also read the news. And if you read the news, follow social media feeds that put another layer onto the often tragic but sometimes faceless events that occur everyday around us. Become invested in knowing your world. And when a chance comes for you to change it, do your part.

Forum on Democracy

In response to the actions of the Trump administration in its first month in office, the College of International Studies put on a series of panel speaker sessions to address various facets of the recent attacks on democracy. The speech that had the most impact on me was Dr. Velazquez’s commentary on the way many communities have faced these kinds of attacks before. From the forced internment of Japanese Americans, to the forced sterilization of 30% (!!!) of Puerto Rican women by 1970, to the treatment of immigrants today, American democracy has not always been distributed evenly and ignore that would be to whitewash and rewrite history.
My task going into the forum on democracy was to find a link to terrorism so I wanted to post my comments on that while I talk about the forum here:

During the forum on democracy, there was a lot of talk about the suppression of truth and the resulting limitations on liberty, democracy and freedom. From demonizing the media to demonizing the “academic elites,” it is clear access to information is changing in the Trump era and the ability of citizens to advocate and hold their government accountable seems to be shifting as well. While there were many other very important points made during the forum, this point is where I saw the most direct link to terrorism.
Suppression of liberty, both by governments and institutions, has been shown to correlate highly with rates of terrorism (Krieger Meierrieks 2011). When people feel they do not have power to affect their government, they become increasingly desperate and may turn to extremism. While I don’t think anyone is arguing the U.S. is going to become a hotbed for terrorism under Trump, I do think it is very important to realize the path we are going on and the potentially dangerous and destructive consequences of that. By normalizing sexism, suppression of the media, and denial of truth, we are eroding the democracy that allows us each to maintain agency and power within our government, which may lead to increased desperation within the American public. Additionally, the destabilization of global order caused by the changes Trump and other populist leaders are making may have a similar effect.
Overall, while the forum was not in any way an uplifting or encouraging experience, it was a necessary dialogue that all Americans should be thinking carefully about.

Krieger, Tim, and Daniel Meierrieks. “What Causes Terrorism?” Public Choice147.1 (2011): n. pag. Springer. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

Uncategorized

OUR EARTH

On 2/23/2016, I attended a “Latin Americanist Lunch” hosted by the College of International Studies. After an entire semester of having class at 12:00pm, I was finally fortunate to find myself with the time to go to one of these miniature lectures. I sat down the with my roommate in the two seats next to the guest speaker and the sponsoring OU professor.

Besides getting Panera lunch, I had a number of noble and not so noble reasons for attending this guest lecture. In my Understanding the Global Community Class, attending these international area studies events can result in extra credit. I also am required to attend these events for the scholarship that I keep this blog for. For my sorority, you can also receive points for attending these “multicultural events.” Besides these reasons for obvious personal gain in other aspects of my life, I am extremely interesting in Latin America. I am currently in Grammar in Conversational Spanish, the fifth semester of Spanish Language offered at the University of Oklahoma, and I love the language and the multitudes of cultures that share the language. Thus, this opportunity seemed to fit all of my motivations rather closely.

I had the rare opportunity of being forced to talk to the speaker and one of my future professors for Understanding the Global Community. This opportunity came from walking in much later than the majority of attendance of other students and the only seats available at the table were those two. I was definitely not ready to talk about myself in a professional college standpoint, and actually stumbled after being asked my major. To say the least, I was rather embarrassed and I hope that I made up for it when telling him about myself. (I always feel nervous about not seeming intelligent and then coming off “too smart”) I told him about my plans to study abroad in Latin America and goals to attend medical school, and we had interesting small talk during the lunch before the talk. It was definitely nice to be able to have that kind of interaction with professors, and be able to talk about myself in a professional manner.

The speaker, Dr. David Lopez-Carr, is the head of the department of geography at the University of California–Santa Barbara. He was an extremely stimulating speaker. He was able to connect geography to bigger issues such as the urbanization and how that changes a nation and different communities. He mentioned the changes that capitalism can cause in the world. My Understanding the Global Community Class combined with these kinds of lectures that I have been attending have really opened my mind to the concepts of globalization and how my individual choices can make a statement. He was a professor I only to to get to know one day. He’s a champion for women’s education and sees education as the key to change. This idea is incredibly important and I really enjoyed this lecture. Dr. Lopez-Carr was able to connect so many different issues to geography. He spoke about women’s pregnancy and how many children a family has changes from rural locations to urban locations. And the fewer children mean that more resources are given to each child. He also spoke about how education also causes women to have fewer children. He also spoke about deforestation in the food industry. The food industry spends so much money on deforestation for crops. The energy used to farm these crops will be lost greatly in the food chain, and the championing for the meat industry is potentially dangerous.

This was an amazing choice for a lecture to begin the Latin Americanist Lunches, and I count myself grateful to the university to have provided me with this opportunity to hear from a visiting professor.

Austrian Night Trains

On my train from Austria this weekend, I had three different Europeans bring up the subject of Donald Trump’s presidency to me.
One was hesitant to ask me, afraid to offend me. One outright attacked me, assuming that each American had voted the same as the electoral college. And finally, an older man asked me what my generation thought of our country’s chosen leader and his blatant intolerance (those were his exact words).
Each European, whose memory of facism is much clearer and more recent than our own, shook their heads at our country’s current situation.
I listened to a pair of German teenagers who told us that four Pakistani refugees were pulled from their train car in the night for not having appropriate papers at the Austrian border.
I observed the troops and the military border police walking in and out of various train stations and shining flashlights in our cars in the middle of the night.
I never once had my passport checked. I never once had my status questioned. When the border patrol shone their lights in our car, they didn’t even open the door. I am so, so thankful for the fact that I am an American today and every day and for the safeties it affords me.
But today, I read that the Trump administration wants to repeal DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that allows children whose parents migrated from other countries to the states to apply for work permits and defer deportation for two years (I know, the time difference makes me slow to the news). My heart sank. Because I’m studying refugeeism here in Europe and I know the heartbreak it brings and I cannot imagine being pulled off a train in the middle of the night and sent back to a place that I can no longer call home. And it makes me sick to think that our country, the place of endless opportunity, is turning away those who have none. It makes the rest of the world sick, apparently, too.

Uncategorized

Summer in Leipzig & Spring 2018

After much deliberation and many applications, I finally have a plan for my summer. I applied for the Critical Language Scholarship to learn Turkish, but unfortunately I was not accepted. Then, I planned to go to Israel for an archaeological dig, and even had paid my deposit. But then, I heard that a spot had opened up for a trip I have been hearing about in my German classes for several semesters now.

Long story short, I’m going to be spending a month in Leipzig, Germany this summer! I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Leipzig

I’ll be traveling with about fifteen other OU students to Leipzig, where we’ll take intensive German classes each morning, make field trips around the area each afternoon, and explore the country on weekends.

I’m eager to spend a month in Leipzig and become really acquainted with the city, and I’m also eager to see many different cities in Germany such as Berlin, Dresden, and Erfurt, to name a few. In the past two years I’ve learned quite a bit of German vocabulary and grammar, and practicing speaking in the classroom and in the real world will help my fluency tremendously.

Since I have the opportunity to spend this summer in Germany, I am considering other options for my semester abroad in spring 2018 so I can experience a different country and take classes more suited to my major, Letters. I’m browsing universities that offer courses in Classics, Greek, and Latin. Aristotle University in Thessaloniki looks like a wonderful option.

Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki

Plans could change again, as they are prone to, but I’m ready to embrace whatever travels my future holds!

what are you running away from?

 

what are you running away from, child?

what are you running away from when you sleep with your windows open no matter the cost of temperature, no matter the ease with which bad men could make their way up those walls, no matter the wings that fly in to lose their life to the light?

what is it about that breeze that keeps your stir crazy self sane, that breeze that makes you tame your mane instead of letting it fall dirty and matted and free around your shoulders, that breeze that makes you breathe with your eyes closed?

aren’t you afraid you might fly away with it?

or perhaps you already have, and you keep those windows open in hopes you will one day return.

I know you’ve spent long days with your head hanging over the edge of the bed, eyes half open, heart fully broken, trying to believe that there are no whispers on the wind telling you to go.

what are you running away from when you sneak out of crowds when the lights go down and the voices are loud so your friends don’t notice your absence the way they notice the trees when they first start to bud?

what are you running away from when you pray to wake up invisible?

and God, how do you answer Him?

He sees you running from miles away and yet He stays, He stays where He knows you will stop when you are ready to talk and He waits with the diligence of a marble Roman statue.

and what is your excuse?

who made it so you cannot even open your mouth to scream “Why?” when He tries to reach out His arms to you, but rather you stand, brimming with boiling waterfalls, shaking your head in distrust as you turn away to start running again.

where is the start of your damage?

what made the first break in your mind?

I’ve found my freedom at the top of mountains too tall for demons to climb, but what goes up must come down, and I always came down.

it seems that now, I’ve stayed.

I was trained far more in cross country than in combat so when the mistakes I have made and the men who have made me mute and the demons who don’t dare stop their destruction finally catch up to me, I look for my open window instead of my weapon. and I run.

I am tired of walking the plank just because my vessel has the potential to turn from ship to shipwreck.

I am tired of calling it quits at the hint of connection.

I am tired of feeling guilt at the thought of resurrection.

but this life seems to spin too fast for my liking sometimes so I run to keep up, or to out last, or to not be left behind.

running away is what I do best

it’s what I do instead of being the lady that doth protest

but I’m tired of keeping my mouth shut and my lungs over capacity, I want to turn my forward motion into forward tenacity

I want to see the roses bloom where I plant them

 

you can stop running anytime, love, anytime.

the wind still blows even when your window is not open to feel it.

don’t believe what they say about once a goner, always a goner; the Lord will you meet you where your legs stop working and He will carry you to the finish line, stroking your hair all the while.

there is kindness the color of glaciers and hope as important as bees, they will rest upon you once you start growing, so start growing and stop running and know that your feet deserve a rest just as much as your mind does.

stop running and start growing:

you’ll find that your soles know how to take root, and how to take root quickly, you’ll find that your shoulders are mountains in themselves and your waist is small enough to slip through the cracks in their armor.

your hair is South Dakota wheat waving in the wind and your voice is the wind in itself.

your spine cracks like the trees and grows even taller and your ribs have the stars trapped between them.

just stop, take a break, take a rest, take a breather, take enough time to photosynthesize into a reminder that you are more terrifying that the things that chase you.

you’ll find that they might stop dead in their tracks once you do too.

Arabic Calligraphy

For my first international event of the semester I was lucky enough to get a spot at an Arabic calligraphy class hosted by the university’s Arabic flagship group. I was one of a handful of people there who did not actually speak Arabic, but the class was interesting and informative nonetheless.

Did you know that there are 12 current types of Arabic calligraphy?
Did you know professional calligraphers can spend hours drawing just one character?
Did you know some calligraphers use real reeds as writing utensils?

well, now you do

My favorite aspect of the event was that we got to follow along with our own calligraphy pen and paper. I learned to write a few words in Arabic in a few different calligraphic styles. My favorite styles were the ones that have extra decoration and include all the short vowels. I really like the idea of making writing into a visual art form. I think it’s also a really interesting religious phenomenon that mosques are not allowed to include images of animals and such so they decorate with script instead. I’ve always tied that idea to the reform of the Catholic church and how simple Protestant churches are compared to cathedrals, but it was interesting to get some more insight into the history and techniques of the lettering and script used throughout the Arabic speaking world.

It was a really cool, unique opportunity that I am happy to have had.

Uncategorized

Back to “Normal”

So I’m back in the U.S. wading in biochemistry, medical school preparation, and general school work. I’ve been back for about 2 months now so it feels safe to say my transition back to school and to life in the U.S. is complete ? I guess ?

Spain was a learning experience and I loved a lot of my experiences there, but I never viewed it as my new home. I had a lot of conversations with people while I was abroad about this whole idea of people saying they’re never going to go back home because they love their new home so much. While that gets thrown around a lot, I think it misses a lot of really important things. I think it’s great when people really dive head first into their time abroad. I absolutely think that’s what you have to do. Commit to the language, the culture, and the people to the greatest extent you can with the understanding that you are always learning and will likely never truly master or fully understand a culture that is not yours. However, I think the beauty of study abroad is that it allows you to build a more nuanced understanding of the world by combining perspectives, cultures, and understandings. Throwing off your home culture, bashing it across the board isn’t necessarily productive.

Do I miss Spain or at least aspects of it? Absolutely (shoutout to Spanish tortillas). Are there also aspects of home I’m grateful to have back? For sure. Every country has foundational similarities we can appreciate by spending time abroad and also some differences to observe, learn about, and investigate. No one culture has all the answers, it would seem, but by learning about and experiencing as many cultures as possible, we can improve our understanding of the world, its people, and the best policies and action moving forward on both a macro and micro scale.

Uncategorized