Manos Juntas – International Group

This year, I decided to take a different route when it came to the international group I would be a part of. In my Medical Spanish class, a couple of OU students came in to talk to us about Manos Juntas and how their group volunteers there.

The “Manos Juntas” Foundation, located in Oklahoma City, is an organization that helps low-income people get free medical care. On October 7th I went for the third time to collaborate with “Manos Juntas,” where I helped in the pharmacy. Although, I really wanted to volunteer in the triage room, all volunteer spaces were full and the only place that there was space was in the pharmacy. Since there was an Oklahoma Football game  at 11 o’clock in the morning, volunteer spaces were less crowded. That’s why I found open spaces in the pharmacy, and there seemed to be fewer patients in the triage room as well.

 
In addition, in recent weeks I have volunteered in “Manos Juntas” three times and have learned many valuable lessons along the way. By volunteering at this clinic, I was able to obtain a large number of individual interactions with patients, take their medical history and review their basic vital signs. All the volunteers were trained and helped the foundation as much as possible. As I am already fluent in Spanish, I was able to practice my translation skills and new medical terms that I had to learn through my “Medical Spanish” course. Through this experience I was able to meet new people and interact with many different cultures. During the time I was helping in “Manos Juntas,” I was able to develop new skills and gain a new vision in the medical field. Although I will not work directly in the field of medicine when I graduate, the experience I had will be beneficial in my life and in my career. I am planning to enter the medical field of law that contains medical malpractice. “Manos Juntas” is a great tool for me, especially because although I am not certified, I was able to see patients one-on-one, as well as help at the pharmacy.

 
Community service is an essential part of every student’s life, and should be practiced. Providing help to those in need is a great opportunity to interact with different communities, as well as learn about yourself. Specifically, if we are talking about “Manos Juntas” it is a great opportunity for college students who are in need of medical volunteer hours or just want to help.

 
I am very thankful I was able to be a part of something like this throughout my time at the University of Oklahoma. “Manos Juntas” has made me change my way of thinking, as well as knowing that I should always be lending a helping hand.

Manos Juntas: http://www.manosjuntas.com/Volunteer.html


International Summer Internships – Information Session

On the 30th of November, I attended a come-and-go information session over the internships offered abroad. Specifically, when I first arrived I learned a lot about the CEA  Internships Abroad. I was told many things:

  • Depending on where I want to go, I need to look at what type of internship I would want to do. I spoke with him over legal internships and he pointed me in the direction of Prague.
  • I am able to tell CEA what type of internship I would want when abroad, and they go out and find the internship for me.
  • and, CEA provides a $500 waiver to all abroad internship opportunities.

After speaking with him, I decided to look at some options to be able to fulfill my traveling abroad requirements. In the room that the information session was in, my advisor for international business was also there. When I saw her, I was delighted and began speaking to her about what I should be doing and the course of action I need to be taking. I learned about a study abroad opportunity that would fit my schedule in South Korea as well as how she would love to send me to the University of Madrid for a semester to study. There are so many amazing opportunities that the University of Oklahoma offers, and I am excited to pick where I should go. I will be in contact with my advisor, as well as look at the options I have regarding my travel abroad opportunities.

University of Madrid Opportunity: https://oklahoma.studioabroad.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10018

  • You have to be a fluent Spanish speaker to be able to be in this program.
  • It is a University Exchange program (pay OU tuition and fees).
  • Courses are in Spanish.

South Korea Opportunity: https://oklahoma.studioabroad.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10108

  • Housing and tuition waivers are allowed for up to 5 students.
  • All of the classes are in English.
  • There are courses in Business and International Studies.
  • You will live in on-campus dormitories.

Germany Week- Integrating Immigrants

I have been studying German for many years now, so I was excited to learn that there would be a week full of events sponsored by the German Embassy. The first event I attended was called Germany: Integrating Immigrants and it dealt with the German governments steps in accepting thousands of refugees into their borders and ensuring they were equipped to succeed in their new home. It offered me a new perspective on the issue, as they dealt with individual stories and policies, while in the news, the majority of the coverage is only about the numbers. This new look allowed me to understand the difficulties that refugees had in their new homes and how they were working to get ahead.

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Model UN

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attending the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly

Two Mondays ago I went to a Model UN meeting in Farzaneh Hall. The other participants, all committed members, were preparing for a conference in Missouri. I’d been invited by a work colleague to test the waters and see if I was interested. We were divided into two countries, Japan and Iraq, and then into governmental departments like security, economics, social welfare, trade, etc. After discussing strategy and hotel room assignments, I realized that I couldn’t commit to Model UN. As fun as it sounded, I’m more interested in being the force behind negotiations (ie, a military task force) than the one discussing said negotiations. Nonetheless, the meeting was fun and informative, and in just that hour I learned more about the United Nations and its responsibilities. My interest in international security has never faltered, and this Model UN meeting helped confirm that interest.

Uluru, Kata Tjuta, King’s Canyon

I’ve never been one for guided tours; I always felt like they were too touristy. You couldn’t do your own thing and really see what you want to see, and on top of it all you’re missing the local parts, the stuff you only find if you get lost in the area or wander a bit off the main path. But, I was going to Uluru alone, and I didn’t want to rent a car or wander the desert alone, so I bit the bullet and signed up for a three day camping tour of the area. Best call I could have made. The tour was amazing, the guide was super laid back, but really knowledgable about everything he showed us, including cultural, historical, and even geological and ecological aspects of the areas we visited.

On the first day we walked halfway around Uluru. Sounds kind of lame: we didn’t finish? But it was nearly 90 degrees fahrenheit with almost no shade and no breeze, just the brutal Australian sun and mosquitos. And Uluru is bigger than it seems. It took us around two hours just to hike halfway around, and by then everyone was ready for some cold water (ours was all warm by then) and shade. It was really incredible though, our guide pointed us through the cultural center first, which was set up by the Aboriginal people who traditionally lived in the area. It described a sort of children’s version of some of their creation stories, and it was only a children’s version, our guide explained, because to them more knowledge must be earned. They shared only the “first level” with everyone who visits the site in hopes of spreading some understanding and respect for Uluru and the country around it. Our guide gave us a little more context for the information in the cultural center. He also showed us spots around Uluru that would have had no meaning without his explanation. A rock worn smooth on one side where generations of Aboriginal women had ground paints on its surface, a pool shaded by Uluru that was a near permanent source of water, and an overhang with paintings in it that would have meant nothing to me,

but our guide explained they told the stories of Uluru, and such information as where to find water nearby. Having the guide around provided context for everything I got to see that day, it really made the experience far more significant than if I’d just gone on my own and strolled around waiting for the famous Uluru sunset.

That night was interesting too, we slept out under the stars in swags, which, I learned, are these canvas sacks that zip open wide enough to fit a camp mattress and a sleeping bag inside. They were surprisingly comfortable for just being a thin mattress and canvas on hard packed sand. We only slept a few hours a night anyway, we had to wake up around 4 each morning to pack up camp and get to our hike before the heat of the day.

On the second day we went to Kata Tjuta, which our guide translated as “many heads,” what the Aboriginal people of the area thought the large collection of massive stone domes looked like from a distance.

This was a very sacred site to the indigenous people of the area, so the hiking trails there were more strictly enforced to keep visitors from disturbing important cultural areas among the domes. We started our hike at about 6 am, and I was sweating ten minutes in. I can’t imagine trying to do hike any later in the day, or in the summer. It’s just too hot. I drank nearly a gallon of water each day, and still was mildly dehydrated by the end of the three days.

The hike was worth it though, we got some incredible views across the central Australian landscape for our troubles, and we finished the day with some Australian barbeque and a swim in the campsite pool.

The third day we went to King’s Canyon for our hardest hike yet. The trail started with a steep climb known as “Heart Attack Hill,” which we broke into three segments to avoid actually giving anyone a heart attack. Then the climb was relatively easy, tracing around the rim of the canyon and offering awesome views of the surprisingly varied landscape. We crossed stretches of barren red dirt and rock, only to round a corner into a (comparatively) lush area of bush grasses and small trees.

Halfway around we descended into the canyon to see the Garden of Eden, an area in the canyon with a permanent watering hole surrounded by tropical plants and large trees. It was a startling change from the desert above, and a welcome break from the blistering sun.

The hike back up was not as welcome, but the best view yet was at the top of the other side, where we had a clear view across the canyon, over the low mounds of earth on the other side, and out across the desert beyond.

It was an exhausting three days, and by the time we got back into Alice Springs that night I was ready for a shower and a nap. However, the tour group was full of really great people, so we all went out to a local restaurant together for one last hurrah before we scattered across the country. Our guide even made an appearance late in the night, just long enough to add everyone on Facebook and disappear again.

Going into it I was really nervous. This was my first solo travel without a support system waiting like I had arriving at Monash, and even though it was with a tour group, I had no idea what to expect. It was a really great experience though, and I think it gave me a needed confidence boost before I took off on my longer three week trip down the east coast of Australia.

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OU COUSINS: Not what I expected

When I signed up to be an OU cousin I was not expecting to be paired with someone with the likes of Hussain Ramas. Hussain is not your typical international student. Hussain already has a Petroleum Engineering degree, multiple years of professional experience, is married, and has a kid. He will soon be referred to as “Dr. Ramas” because he is now just a few years away from earning a doctoral degree! I was impressed when I met him and even more impressed now that I’ve had the chance to really get to know him. Being a “non-traditional student” myself it is nice making friends with students who are older, married, and have been all over the world! Realizing we have so much in common was pretty cool. It is clear that no matter where you are born or raised we are all pretty similar! Indeed, when I signed up to be an OU cousin I was not expecting to make such a great friend.

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Reform Contradictions Facing China’s New Leadership

If you’re like me, or really if you’re like the majority of Americans, China appears to have an economy which is leaps and bounds better than the economy of America. You may also believe that America is weaker in other areas as well such as military strength or worldwide influence. Seeing that you may not be alone in thinking this way would you believe it if someone told you that the Chinese think exactly the opposite? Indeed Chinese view America as the world’s economic powerhouse and they view America as the most influential country in the world. Dr. Yukon Huang spent over an hour describing to all of us listening “Why Conventional Economic Wisdom Is Wrong” (This is also part of the title of his latest book). It was fascinating to see why the most common answers to the world’s most basic questions prove to be wrong time and time again. Indeed what seems so obvious is not always true! I was highly entertained (and educated) as I listened to Dr. Huang encourage us all to dig a bit deeper and stop accepting common wisdom and instead begin asking “why are things the way they are?”

 

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HASA

The organization I have followed and attempted to be involved in this semester is HASA, or Hispanic American Student Association. This organization is so passionate about their culture and heritage, and sharing it in the most positive and influential way. They have an incredible following as an organization. As someone who is not hispanic, I always felt welcome in conversations and otherwise when interacting with this community. My favorite event was the DACA rally many students from HASA attended on the South Oval this semester. It was so empowering and enlightening to current events imperative to the season our nation is in. It reminded me that we are all impacted by the policies of our nation, whether directly or indirectly.

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Study Abroad Fair

At the beginning of the school year, I attended the University of Oklahoma Study Abroad fair. I wasn’t sure if I what to aspect when going to that, because since I am an engineering major I have always been told that study abroad was going to be hard for me. I went around asking different tables about their engineering programs to my surprise there were quite a few. The engineering college even had their table. I asked them about their upcoming trips they were planning on hosting and that is when I learn about summer 2018 in Arezzo, Italy program. A few months past and I ended up applying. I got accepted so I will be trying abroad to Italy this summer to study. I am thankful for the career fair because I wouldn’t have learned about this opportunity.

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Tasmania Part II

Finally got around to this, okay. So on day 5 we drove a lot.

We started the day at MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. As someone who really struggles to appreciate art, I have to say this was probably the most interesting art museum I’ve ever visited. It had tons of, well, new art. One piece was a kind of waterfall, but it released water so that the drops formed words that were frequently searched online.

Another room was full of massive paper airplanes an even flying cities made of paper. It was by far the least stuffy art museum I’ve ever been to, I really enjoyed walking around. Especially four hours after we left when we were still in the car driving through winding semi-mountainous roads. Sadly, not much happened that day after we left MONA.

Day six, however, was pretty cool. We started the day with a hike looking for platypuses (apparently it’s not platypi?) and while we didn’t see any, we did make it up to a really nice waterfall for some cool pictures.

 

Then we drove on to Cradle Mountain, our last stop before returning to Launceston for our flight home. Cradle Mountain was probably my favorite stop on the trip after Nature World. We checked in, then went to find some short hikes to take, and on our way to the trails we passed half a dozen wallabies and wombats just chilling and eating grass on the side of the road in broad daylight. It was awesome. I’d seen my fill of wallabies by that point to be honest, but wild wombats were new to me, and there were so many! One moseyed across the road in front of us when we stopped at a stop sign. It was honestly kind of surreal. And when we actually went on our hike, it started off winding through a field right next to three wombats. I took way too many pictures, I could honestly make a short flip book of one just eating grass.

After that there were no wombats on our hike, but it was really pretty. It was insane how suddenly the landscape could change, one minute we were in a scrub brush field, the next we were in a mossy forest next to a river. And we found more waterfalls! So of course more touristy pictures were taken.

That night we meant to go out to see if we could spot a wild Tasmanian devil – we were told they looked for scraps along the edge of the camp site – but we got caught up talking to some other uni students we met in the hostel kitchen. Two girls were there on rotation from a veterinary school in Sydney, one was from Canada originally, and the other was from California. Apparently, a lot of their classmates were from the US… So I could go to vet school in Australia… That nugget of information was saved for later. But they were in Tasmania for a few weeks working at a Tasmanian Devil sanctuary, where they met a uni student from France who was also hanging out with us. He was interning at the sanctuary, and I was starting to wonder why on earth I was wasting so much time on a boring chemistry degree in the middle of Oklahoma. Anyway, I got some food for thought from them about international internships and vet schools.

Day seven was kind of sad. Most of us were ready to quit traveling at that point – sharing a car with six people for a week gets old, even when everyone gets along fairly well – but none of us was ready to leave Tasmania. So, we took one last hike around a lake at the foot of Cradle Mountain. I took way too many pictures there again, but it was so picturesque it was hard to stop. There was snow on the peaks, and low clouds and fog occasionally obscured the very tops of the mountains. The water was relatively calm, and there were just so many great views over the lake along the trail. It really was a great way to end the trip.

When we finally drove back into Launceston, we made one last stop at our first accommodation to pick up… my darn wallet. And I had the honor of paying for the last tank of gas to sort of make up for mooching off of everyone else all week. In all, it was an awesome trip and a really great experience.

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