Mentoring

Mentoring this year has been an interesting experience. Our mentees were allowed to choose their mentors, so I was honestly surprised when five new GEFs chose me to mentor them, mainly because they were made aware in my bio that I would be abroad in Australia during their first semester at OU. I was super excited to have them though, and I spent the first part of my shortened summer emailing them some basic info about the program and myself and OU, and then exchanging more individual emails with two of them as they were trying to plan ahead for their trips abroad. That was the best part for me, getting to talk with my new mentees. I did two mentoring programs the year before, and among nearly twenty total mentees I had, almost none of them ever contacted me or responded to any of my emails or other attempts to interact with them.

However, as seems to happen with the mentoring programs I’ve done, I largely lost contact with them after the semester started. I can’t say I blame them, I know when I was a freshman I preferred figuring things out for myself, but I liked being a resource whenever they would let me. I got to help one mentee start her search for a study abroad program that was a good fit and another decide whether to stay with the program, as he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to meet all the requirements while keeping up with his classes and graduating on time. Even if I never hear from those freshmen again it’s cool to have been able to help a little bit with their first year of college.

Global Engagement Day

On Global Engagement Day I attended the Fulbright/Peace Corps Prep session. I’ve been to so many Fulbright sessions that unfortunately, I didn’t get much new information from it, although the first-hand account from the speaker definitely got me excited to go (if I get accepted). The Peace Corps talk however, really interested me. I’m not sure it’ll work for me in the long run – I doubt I have a skill set that would work for them now, and I want to get my veterinary doctorate before I make a larger commitment like that anyway. But if there is a way I can swing going after vet school I’d love to. Had I known about the prep program sooner (or rather, had it been started earlier in my college career) I probably would have done it. Having a marketable set of skills like that in addition to my somewhat less “practical” four year degree would definitely have appealed.

For some reason I found myself less willing to consider a Peace Corps stint right after my undergraduate program than I am to consider Fulbright. The extra year commitment in Peace Corps for some reason seems like a huge difference to me, although another part of me wonders how big the difference really is. A year is already a long time, a full round of missed holidays and birthdays, at that point a second year seems relatively small and at the same time incredibly long. I already know how easy it is to get drawn into a good program abroad. Once I was settled in Australia I felt like I could stay there far longer than I did. It was only the continuous travel at the end that really wore me down and made me ready to go home. I wonder if Peace Corps wouldn’t be the same, just settling into a place for the long haul, making another semi-permanent home that I can really relax at, the way I could at my apartment in Australia, and the way I couldn’t when I was switching hostels every other night while backpacking. But somehow I’m reluctant to jump right into that, I feel that I’d rather try for the Fulbright first. It seems like I want to work my way up to such a long stay – a month in Italy, five months in Australia, a year on Fulbright… baby steps, I suppose, is what I’m going for. Even after so long abroad I still feel very new to that kind of travel, and I want to be sure I’m ready for that kind of commitment.

Returning from Abroad

Returning to the US after being abroad for several months was an odd experience. To make it even stranger, I woke up sick the morning of my flight back to the US, and after a full day of flying and airports with an eye infection and a nasty cold, I spent the first week I was home holed up recovering. By the time I got back out into the “real world,” it had already started to feel like the entire “Australia experience” had been some hazy fever dream. It still amazes me how distance from a place can make experiences there seem surreal, especially when you’re also removed from the people you shared those experiences with. The only person in the US who was in Australia with me was Tasha, another OU student who stayed at the same apartment complex as me during our semester there. I meet her occasionally now for lunch so we can reminisce together and feel a little less alone and distant from all those experiences, because spending half a year abroad like that leaves a lot of memories that are really worth remembering and revisiting, but it’s hard to do that without someone else to share the memories with. That may be the hardest part of coming back, you’re left with all these incredible experiences and memories, but few if any people to share them with. No matter how well you can tell the stories to your friends or parents back home, they’ll never really know what it was like. It’s like telling a joke out of context, the distance just makes it lose something in translation, and I really struggled with that my first few weeks back. Even now, six months later, it feels even more like Australia was just a dream. It seems like time just skipped, I missed OU in the fall, a full semester of classes – this entire semester I referred to last spring as “last semester,” as though fall never happened. I fell right back in with my friends, which was great, but it also made that semester abroad seem even more surreal. How could I see and do and learn so much, then come back and find everything almost exactly as I left it? I’m completely adjusted to being home by now – I have been for months – but every once in a while the strangeness of the whole situation still stirs in the back of my mind. I’m sure as time passes that will happen less and less, but it makes me sad that all those memories are fading so fast, and will likely continue to do so. Hopefully I can go back someday and refresh some of them.

Confucius Institute Open House

When I arrived at the Confucius Institute open house, I accidentally walked in behind a dance performance, as in on the back of what they were using as the stage. To be fair, the “stage” was the entryway, and I walked in what they were using as the main entrance. The open house was really cool, I got to watch a solo dancer (from behind), a martial arts demonstration, and a fan/tai chi demonstration. In between performances I wandered among the stations they had set up. They were doing calligraphy characters for kids, as well as a couple other art stations and a free dinner. The last station I visited before leaving was the tea tasting, which was by far the most interesting to me. They had black and green teas, each from a region in Southeast China. I’m not exactly a tea connoisseur, but that green tea was probably the best I’ve had, and I enjoyed getting to chat up the guy running the tasting too. While I lost the notes I took on what he said, he explained more precisely where each tea came from and talked about some other events the Confucius institute would be putting on. I had a great time overall, and next year I’ll try to get there earlier, or at least not walk in behind the ongoing performances.

Eve of Nations (2018)

The Eve of Nations was a spectacular showcase of many countries’ cultures. It had a fashion show of every country that the University of Oklahoma represented. For instance, my pledge brother from Malaysia wore his traditional clothing and posed on the stage. It was a very informational and amusing showcase of the type of cultural students at present in the University of Oklahoma. From Asia to Europe to Africae to South America, the University of Oklahoma has no end to the type of student present there.

After the fashion show, I saw the talent show that only several countries participated in, but that allowed me to witness the talents of the countries that decided to showcase their talents. In addition to that, some countries do not have enough students to accurately display their talents. The beauty of this showcase and their talent show is that it provides money to those organizations. Many organizations need money to keep them going and to give them more money to create more projects.

My favorite thing about the Eve of Nations was seeing the varying types of students at the University of Oklahoma. I had no idea that there were that many diverse students at the University of Oklahoma. I really enjoyed that there was also food accommodated at the event, although some of the food were not the best. I hope that the Eve of Nations showcases even more countries the next year.

Border Control

Although the appointment of the President of the Unites States seems like more of a national situation, his appointment also effects other countries as leaders of varying countries converse and create alliances. With the appointment of President Donald Trump, there was a large outrage by the Democratic Party. I still distinctly remember the University of California, Berkeley destroying parts of their campus in outrage of a Republic figure on their campus.

One of the largest struggles with the appointment of President Trump is his border control ideals with Mexico. A lot of people have issues that President Trump issues the creation of a wall to separate Mexico and the United States. I believe that a wall may seem a little unreasonable, but his reasoning behind the wall is understandable in that he wishes to protect the United States from people who would harm the citizens of the United States. That being said, there are immigrants here that may be undocumented that Homeland Security are beginning to deport. That system of deporting is beginning to trigger a lot of citizens and it is sad to see some of those immigrants go.

A system that might be better as of now is to see if those undocumented immigrants would become an integral part of the society and the community. By that, I mean each immigrant should be evaluated to see if they are advantages or living stable lives in the United States. The flip side is for those who are not living stable in the United States because there are jobs are everywhere and although some require some experience, if people are dedicated to find a job, they can find one, even if it is not a desirable one.

Border control is no doubt one of the biggest disputes going on between varying countries. Even countries in Europe have issues with border control. Spain had an open door policy and the Middle Eastern began to use Spain as a route to the rest of Europe, the Spaniards became angry that these immigrants were not an integral part of society. In fact, these immigrants used the provided supplies and left the Spain economy in rubbles, in lack of better terms. Spain exhausted some of their materials for the immigrants that Spain is losing money by helping them.

What should be done about the border control with other countries? In my personal opinion, borders should be more closed. That is not to say to not let in immigrants, but we should be more strict with who we are letting into our country. We want citizens who truly want to better their lives, but they must also contribute positively in our society.

International Waters

The ocean is a free space, not technically owned by any country, but some countries such as China have attempted to claim the ocean as part of its’ borders. However, since there is no distinct border for the ocean, countries often get angry with one another about the if ships cross each other’s territories.

For instance, China claimed a part of the waters as part of their own, but Taiwan has had that area for a long period of time. These disputes over unclear border lines cause a lot of turmoil in that countries that control the water has control of trade and ports. Trade is very important to a country as it helps raise its economic value. By trading its goods with varying countries, China can secure its financial issues by trading more. This raises its economy by selling their material goods at a higher price than what China makes them for.

However, because every country is determined to have a better trade system than another, further disputes are created about the border of waters. The power of having water territories means that those countries can maintain a higher influence in terms of economic supremacy.

What does this mean for countries that are less fortunate in receiving ships or sending ships due to fear or dangers of landing in another country’s territory? Those countries would only be able to trade by foot or with neighboring countries. The cons to this are that countries often have the same materials when they are so close together. For instance, the Middle East is known for having oil and therefore trading oil with another Middle Eastern country would be useless. If that is the case, the country then has an over abundance of those materials.

Trade is crucial for a country’s survival, being either with knowledge or material goods. I wonder what the consequences would be if international waters allowed multiple countries to pass through, but there are also too many dangers to that as countries risk attacks from varying countries that pass by.

Mr. and Mrs. Asian OU (MMAOU)

Mr. and Mrs. Asian OU is a pageant for the to showcase the Asian community. This pageant shows the culture of Asians in terms of fashion, talent, and questioning. This was a really interesting, yet informing pageant. For the fashion show, I learned about the culture of their wardrobe that were distinct within each of their cultures.

I think that this pageant showcases the talent and culture of the individuals and gives each participant a chance to showcase the philanthropy that they are supporting. Being in this pagaent ensures that Asian Americans reach out to the community and are good role models for those around them. Winning this pagaent not only means a lot to the individual, but a lot towards their community service.

With that being said. . .

a huge congratulations goes towards my fraternity brother, Huy, for winning Mr. Asian OU. He followed suit of the preceding Mr. Asian OU as they are both pledge brothers of the Lambda Phi Epsilon International Fraternity.

The Asian American Student Organization (AASA)

 

 

The Start to ACMNP 2018

Driving up into The Rockies towards Estes Park had me playing the best music I have on Spotify and my mouth sending a few howls out into the winding mountain air. I’m 22, I’ve just graduated college with two degrees, and the first job I have out of school had me making about $5.00 an hour and living in a room with three other girls. I don’t think I could think of anything less ‘professional’. After last summer, the entirety of my life has felt notably boring when compared to the hikes and conversations and meteor showers and sunset worship sessions that had consumed my life at The Grand Canyon. And so, I signed up to work with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP) again.

I know that last summer cannot be replicated, and I wouldn’t want to try to recreate it, but everything leading up to this summer has had me on the border of excited and terrified. Excited that I would get to be in the mountains and that I would get to work with disabled kids and that I would get to hike and sing and meet new people. But terrified that I wouldn’t be in the desert and that my job is a high risk job and that I’ll have to meet all new people to learn to trust enough to go hiking and climbing and be weird with.

Last summer, all we had was each other. The other employees were full time, Arizona residents, who were too old to give a rat’s ass about meeting the bright=eyed seasonal employees. So, all we had was each other and it was easy and dependable. When I showed up to the YMCA of the Rockies for check in, all other 239 seasonal staff was around my age and just as hungry for companionship as I was. That makes it seem like making friends would be easy but when you have to try to be friends with 239 other people instead of 13, all relationships feel severely lacking. From day one I knew that my battle of this summer was going to be loneliness. Temporariness. Fickleness. How do you find your new best friends out of a crowd of 239, and how do you avoid feeling exclusive if you are lucky enough to find them.

 

Yesterday, I was feeling notably hopeless and so I decided to go for a run. I was tired and feeling less than 100% but I knew that physical activity does wonders for the brain even more so than the body. When I stepped outside, I saw a double rainbow cascading across a stormy mountainous sky and I was drawn back to my drive down to AZ last summer.

Last summer, as I crossed the continental divide and made my way west of The Rockies into geographic territory that I had never experienced before, Creator threw a double rainbow onto a pink sky to the south west of me as if to say “your journey is blessed, you will experience more than you can know”. I took those rainbows as a sign that I was not alone, nor would I be alone. Yesterday, when I saw the double rainbow, I realized that this summer, too, could be blessed, and that Creator had plans for me He had yet to reveal. That is a realization both inspiring and terrifying.

I continued on my run, heading towards the horse stables when I heard the sound of a full stream forging the melting snow down into the valley. Nothing about water will ever be bad and so I decided to find the stream. I went off trail, following the rushing sound, and ended up on a much less beaten path that ran right along the banks of the river. The force of the stream invigorated me as I watched the water go crashing over rocks and tree logs unrelentingly. I continued on my way and then suddenly saw a sign that said “Entering RMNP”. Somehow, I had entered the National Park without realizing it. There was a herd of mule deer to my right, the stream behind me, forested peaks all around me, and total surprise in my heart. I let out a whoop and ran/leaped deeper in to the Park. The sun was beginning to set, so I didn’t make it that far before I turned around and headed home, but the accidental discovery of the nearness of preserved creation had done its job completely. I stopped by the horse stables on the way back home and sang a few folk hymns to them in an attempt to get sucked into a Disney movie. They all stared at me with a look of amusement on their face, but I took no offense.

I ended up back at home as the sun went down and changed my clothes in time to go spend time with some ACMNP teammates of mine. Their sense of humor was inviting, and I realized that there are people I can trust here, but that relationships with them may not come with out intentional action.

I know its only day three, but I’ve been laid up with strep throat all day (blech), so I’ve had a lot of time to think. I think that last summer, Yahweh needed to strip down everything that I had until only the essentials remained, to show me that life can still exist even in the driest of places. I think that He wants this summer to be more about creating new Good things that lend themselves towards fullness.

I don’t know what the future looks like, but I think believing that it will be good already makes it good. There are hikes to come and laughter to come tumbling out of our mouths and divine realizations that will change the world. Those things will come this season whether you are on top of mountains or living in the same place you always have been. Thank you for joining me as I learn to start living the future instead of trying to predict it.

-H. Asfeldt