WhatsApp! My favorite application out there and an essential while studying abroad. WhatsApp is used all around the world, but the US seems to be one of the few places where it hasn’t caught on yet. So, this post’s goal is to inform you about what this app does. Whatsapp combines the functions of many of our favorite social media apps with some other cool functions thrown in. First and foremost, it is a messaging application where you can send texts. You can also easily send voice messages. This is a popular feature here in Mexico and is useful when trying to send messages while on the move. Like Skype or FaceTime, you can do video or voice calls with your contacts. Like GroupMe, you can easily create group chats. You can also post stories for your contacts to see. All of these features run very smoothly, oftentimes faster than my regular SMS application. WhatsApp is also super helpful because it allows you to communicate with people who live in other countries without incurring large fees. This is because it uses Wifi or data to send messages similar to Facebook Messenger. As you can see, WhatsApp is an amazing application that combines a lot of great features. Sadly, it still hasn’t caught on as much in the US, but as more and more people meet people from around the world it’s sure to grow in popularity. It is also a must to download before traveling abroad, as this is the best way to communicate with people while in another country. I use WhatsApp every day here in Mexico.
I have almost completed one month here in Puebla. When I sat down to right this blog post to summarize what was happened, I found it extremely hard. So much has happened, every day exciting things happen. How do I convey what my experience has been like. Then, I realized that this was the important thing. My experience here in Puebla has been made up of little moments each day that have contributed to this experiencia poblano. So, here I will share a few little moments from this first month.
Little Moment #1: Arriving in Puebla
I got off the plane in Mexico City, took a bus from the tarmac to the terminal, hurried through customs, and then got on another bus bound for Puebla City. It was dark outside, so I couldn’t see this new place where I would be living for four months. At the bus station in Puebla, my host family Irma and Rashid met me. Irma brought a flower with her so I could recognize them. We drove to their house. It is a big, old house on the corner of two streets. Lots of beautiful wood and marble.
Little Moment #2: Meeting Friends
The first full day in Puebla I went to meet up with some other international students who were here studying at UPAEP for a semester. There were 3 people from Spain and one from Germany. I saw their apartment on the really cool Avenida Juarez here in Puebla that has a lot of cool restaurants and looks very modern. Then, we went to a huge mall called Angelopolis. Puebla has some extremely nice malls.
Little Moment #3: Coffee Fair and Los Fuertes
At the end of orientation week at UPAEP, I had gotten to know a little bit more of Puebla and met some Mexican students studying at the university. On Friday, I went with them and some OU students to a Coffee Fair. Free coffee from all over Mexico! The fair was located in a really cool touristic zone called Los Fuertes that looks over all of Puebla. Afterwards, we walked around Los Fuertes and saw monuments, forts, and a cool lookout/cafe.
Little Moment #4: Chiles en Nogadas
It is a special time of year here in Puebla, the time of the Chiles en Nogadas! I was lucky enough to get invited by one of my new Mexican friends to his house to try Chiles en Nogadas that his mom was making. They are amazing!!! We spent a nice night relaxing and conversing with his family who all came to share this special meal.
Little Moment #5: Camino Atoyac
Not too far from my house, there is a very nice walking/running path along a river. The path connects a lot of cool places in Puebla including the Complejo Cultural. I have run on this path several times, and it is always a relaxing experience. There is a small soccer club in a park along this path. The field is fenced in. I always really enjoy getting to watch the people play as I run by.
Little Moment #6: La Estrella de Puebla
Puebla has a really big ferris wheel called La Estrella de Puebla. At night, you can see it lit up from all over the city. Going up it was a nice experience. It moves really slowly.
Little Moment #7: El Centro
El Centro is the historical part of Puebla. It has a huge cathedral in the center as well as lots of colonial/historic buildings. I walked through it several times visiting cathedrals, el Barrio del Artista, etc. There is one church in particular called El Capillo del Rosario that has a section completely covered in gold. It is breathtaking.
Little Moment #8: El Aguacate Cascadas
One Saturday a group of us from Oklahoma went with a tour group to hike to these waterfalls about 2 hours outside of Puebla. The trail to get there was along a little river and absolutely beautiful. We all enjoyed getting out of the city for a bit and into nature. The waterfalls were really beautiful too. I especially loved the color of the water there. We swam in the water for a bit, and it was cold. After waiting an hour for the rest of the group, we began the trek back. This time, the bus was not able to get all the way down the gravel path to the town. So…. we had to hike up some huge cerros about 4 miles to get back to the bus. It was tough and near the end we had some cars take us the rest of the way. Finally, we got back home and I had some more delicious chiles en nogada made by my housemom.
Little Moment #9: Talavera
With the OU group, we went to tour a Talavera pottery factory. Talavera pottery is extremely beautiful and something very special to Puebla. We toured the whole factory and process of making the pottery and then painted our own Talavera tiles. Art is not my greatest strength, so it was difficult, but still fun.
Little Moment #10: Museo Internacional del Barroco
I visited the International Baroque Art Museum here in Puebla. The building itself is architecturally breathtaking. It is all white curves surrounded by water. In the center is a courtyard with a huge whirlpool. Mesmerizing. The baroque art itself contrasts with the lightness and simplicity of the building. Baroque art is interesting. Lots of details, often religious. Am I a fan? Still not sure. I got a coffee in a beautiful open space in the museum. Behind the museum is a beautifully manicure park. This museum was really special.
There are 10 Little Moments from my first month here in Puebla. This doesn’t even encompass all the exciting things I’ve done, so more Little Moments posts will be sure to come.
Museo Internacional del Barroco
Cascadas El Aguacate
Capillo del Rosario
La Estrella de Puebla
Catedral de Puebla
Chiles en Nogada
I had the opportunity to take Global Activism, Art and Leadership at the OU Arezzo campus over the course of 3 weeks this summer, and I will be forever changed by the time I spent abroad through OU. I completely altered my expectation of the classroom experience, challenged how I thought and processed education and learning, and changed the way I travel.
Going and meeting Italian activist organizations was one of the most memorable and unique parts of my study abroad experience. Going with my friends who have leadership experience at OU added a dynamic to the experience that was different than going alone because they were all active participants in the conversations facilitated by the organizations we had the opportunity to converse and engage with. We met with Libera, an Anti-Mafia activist group, as well as Oxfam and others. These groups are active in the current refugee crisis along with other issues in Italy. They work to find solutions and raise awareness for the issues that matter to them, and genuinely wanted our help to raise awareness for the problems at hand.
Seeing firsthand the art and historical artifacts in Italy was just incredible. From touring Pompeii with Dr. DuCleaux to seeing the Vatican, Colosseum, and museums like the Uffizi and Duomo, my perception of the Roman and Italian world changed immensely, as well as my perception of history and our active involvement with it. I can truly say after being abroad that I returned as a student ready to participate in hands-on learning experiences, face challenges and problem-solve on campus, and engage with a move diverse population of students on OU’s campus.
Pour continuer sur le sujet dont j’ai écrit dans mon article de blog précédent, je veux partager de l’information intéressant sur l’histoire de la cuisine que j’ai appris en lisant un article pour un de mes cours ce semestre. L’article que j’ai lu s’appelle « How Snobbery Helped Take the Spice Out of European Cooking. “ Il s’agit de l’histoire des épices dans la cuisine européen et indien. Selon l’auteur, les chefs au temps médiéval en Europe utilisaient les épices comme les chefs de la cuisine indienne l’ont fait : ils combinaient des saveurs forts et contrastants. L’auteur écrit, « La haute cuisine européenne, jusqu’au milieu des années 1600, se caractérise par son utilisation de saveurs complexes et contrastées. » Mais après la découverte des routes commerciales vers l’Asie, les épices sont devenus plus ordinaire. Alors qu’au passé les épices étaient un luxe réservé seulement pour la haute classe, après le milieu des années 1600 la classe moyenne avait accès à ce luxe. Donc, la haute classe changeait sa cuisine en décidant que la nourriture « doit avoir le goût d’elle-même » et ne pas être noyée par les épices forts. Selon Krishnendu Ray, un historien de la nourriture, « [Les Européens croyaient maintenant que] la viande devrait avoir le goût de la viande, et tout ce que vous ajoutez sert à intensifier les saveurs existantes. » Selon un autre historien, ce changement était « une redéfinition de ce qu’est l’élégant. » Les épices contrastés se sont passés de style. Aujourd’hui, cette tradition reste toujours dans la cuisine française. Les associations de saveurs sont subtiles et servent qu’à augmenter les saveurs qui existent déjà. On peut identifier l’origine de ce style de cuisine dans des raisons économiques, politiques, et sociales du XVIIe siècle.
HIV/AIDS affects some of the poorest countries in the world. Even within those countries, the disease often targets some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. Over 70% of the forty million people living with HIV/AIDS are living in Africa (Dixon, McDonald, and Roberts). This large population of people living with HIV/AIDS has impacted the development of African nations. Thus, it has also impeded the nations’ abilities to manage the wide-spread health threat. Generally accepted economic theory suggests that the profusion of people living with HIV/AIDS reduces labor supply and productivity, reduces exports, and increases imports (Dixon, McDonald, and Roberts). HIV/AIDS hinders development and thus further stratifies the Western and developing nations. The long term economic consequences that have arisen from the HIV/AIDS crisis can, and may only, be aided with international economic support (Dixon, McDonald, and Roberts).
During the presidency of Thabo Mbeki from 1999 to 2008, the South African government denied the existence of HIV/AIDS. This denialism had a significant impact on the country’s population; HIV/AIDS denialism during this period has contributed to between 343,000 and 365,000 preventable deaths. Although the motive behind Mbeki’s denial of HIV/AIDS is still unclear, there are several popular assumptions. Martin Asser suggests that Mbeki’s denialism may be a result of the high prices of drug therapy and the inability to provide the expensive therapy for many South African citizens (Asser). If Asser’s assumption is correct, it exemplifies a South African leader denying a scientifically proven epidemic because of the lack of economic prosperity and resources in the given country. In this situation, Mbeki was clearly driven by the ‘radical’ viewpoint; Mbeki’s actions and public beliefs were influenced by the struggle between the rich and the poor states and societies.
To people struggling with HIV/AIDS, anti-retroviral drugs may be a lifesaving solution. Although there is no cure for AIDS, anti-retroviral therapy can reduce complications and prolong a patient’s life (UCSF Health). These drugs, however, are extremely expensive and very profitable for Western pharmaceutical giants, while proving inaccessible to many patients in developing countries. Many argue the unethicality of such astronomical drug prices and support the nationalization of the drug industry (Hirschler). Clearly, however, this could not exist under the capitalist system that dominates American industries. The class struggle between rich and poor international actors is reflected in the high prices of life-saving drugs and the inability of people in developing countries to access necessary treatment.
In an article published in The Journal of Pan African Studies, Teresa Barnes exhibits a unique way of looking at the HIV/AIDS pandemic:
“We know about AIDS,” he said, “much more than the uncles who are supposed to care for us and try to teach us about it. But if you don’t care about yourself,” he went on, “it really doesn’t matter how much you know about HIV and AIDS, you are still going to put yourself in situations where you will probably get it.” (Barnes 73)
This quote acknowledges the fact that there are societal factors that contribute to the continued spread of HIV/AIDS. While it is clear that the lack of funding for medical treatments affects the ability of foreign patients to receive treatment for HIV/AIDS, it is a common misconception in America that this is the only reason for the widespread HIV/AIDS pandemic. This misconception is quite telling about the American perception of African countries. The general American population attributes an enduring health crisis occurring in Africa to the lack of economic resources in the affected countries. This idea further exemplifies the ‘radical’ or ‘Marxist’ view in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Westerners immediately attribute foreign struggles to a lack of economic resources, thereby adopting the ‘radical’ perspective. Again, the lack of resources is important to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but there are also other social factors that are generally ignored by the West.
It is clear that there are social factors that influence the spread of HIV/AIDS in developing nations, and that these social factors are often ignored by Western individuals and institutions. This idea can be further exemplified by The Product Red campaign. Product Red is a licensed brand that aims to draw awareness and fundraise for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in eight African countries (RED). According to the Product Red manifesto, “You buy (Red) stuff. We get the money, buy the pills and distribute them. … If they don’t get the pills, they die. We don’t want them to die. We want to give them the pills. And we can. And you can. And it’s easy” (Barnes). It is clear from the manifesto that Product Red markets a quick fix for the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This “quick fix,” provided in terms of medical supplies or economic resources, furthers the divide between the affected African countries and developed nations. The idea that economic resources or medical supplies acts as the primary solution to the HIV/AIDS epidemic suggests the ‘radical’ perspective. The class struggle between the rich and poor states prompts the rich states to respond to the needs of the poor states by providing economic resources, without fully evaluating the implications or efficacy of this aid.
This past semester, my peer Christine Murrain and I produced a podcast about the failure of the international air organization, One Laptop Per Child. The nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) aims to distribute low-cost laptop computers to the “world’s poorest children,” with the intention of providing opportunities for quality access to education. The organization was never as successful in distributing laptops as it had anticipated. The introduction of these laptops, in order to render success, required the training of local teachers, provision of technical support, and the creation of sustainable plans for further distribution. OLPC was deployed prior to the pioneering of these logistical necessities and thus, provided for its expedient downfall. Most recently, global initiatives have decreased as a result of improper infrastructure and increasing costs, amongst other negative side effects. This podcast seeks to evaluate the actions of One Laptop Per Child in terms of their ability to create a sustainable source of education and provision of academic materials. Further, this podcast will explore unforeseen consequences of One Laptop Per Child’s efforts. In addition, this podcast will investigate the legacy of One Laptop Per Child, specifically the impact it has had on organizations striving to provide similar aid to children in developing nations. Finally, this podcast will evaluate how One Laptop Per Child’s evolution may affect the populations served. Although One Laptop Per Child distributes technological products to countries on several continents, this podcast primarily focuses on the laptops distributed to students in African countries.
To listen to our podcast or read the transcript, please visit the following link: http://theurgetohelp.com/podcasts/the-failure-of-one-laptop-per-child/
At the beginning of your studying abroad adventure, you’re hit with constant highs. Everything you do is exciting, new and fresh. Then, all of a sudden, you’re hit with the lows. You’re experiencing something thrilling and incredible, but why do you want to be at home, sleeping in your own bed while watching Netflix. These moments are a part of everyone’s abroad experiences.
Homesickness. Friends, family, girlfriends, and of course the pets are all missed. Yes, they may come visit, but as soon as they leave, you realize you won’t see them for another two months. In many countries, and especially Italy, the food is the same everywhere you go. Pizza, pasta, and more pizza, that’s all there is for the most part. A greasy burger is no where to be found. And water? Why do I have to pay for water every time I go eat? It’s these little, frustrating things that can bring any experience down. But the highs. The highs are what get you through it all. Island hopping, flying to a city you’ve never gone before, meeting new people, new cultures, these are the experiences that make it all worth it.
The infamous Cold War: Russians, Cubans, missiles, corruption. This is what most people think of when they think of the Cold War; however, it was much more than this. Dr. John Fishel reflected on his personal experiences living during the Cold War, both as a soldier and a student. Growing up today is much different that 50 years ago. Technology and health have both drastically improved. During Fishel’s military years, all branches of the military were basically cut off from one another and no communication took place between them. But Fishel was one of the first people to have a joint mission between the various branches. The end result of this alliance increased the efficiency of the military and the government.
The second main take away from this lecture is Fishel’s experiences after the Cold War. Oddly, his main opinion post-Cold War was a specific date in August 1992, a date known to very few. For the first time, while being a professor at an American institute, there was a foreign exchange student from Russia who happened to be a former officer in the Russian army. In Fishel’s eyes, this marked the end of the Cold War.
When I think of the Cold War, I think of the tension and the hatred amongst democracies and communist countries. To Dr. Fishel, he saw it as a light at the very very end of a long tunnel. The initial pure intentions of the U.S. Government ended up with the hostile nations of Russia, China, North Korea and Islamic Nations.
This summer I had the opportunity to provide medical and public health to many communities across Honduras. Global Brigades is the largest student-led global health movement who’s goal is to empower communities as they move their way out of poverty through an integrated approach. The 3 main approaches of Global Brigades is the change lives, better lives and save lives. They achieve this by providing clean water and new sanitation projects for better hygiene, develop businesses within the community, and allow access to health care. As of today, Global brigades has treated 1,143,070 patients and 17,771 people have access to clean water.
This is experience has made me felt so humbled, grateful and inspired. In Global Brigades, we tell people that you’re never going to be prepared for what you’re about to experience until you have experienced it yourself. We say that it’s going to change your life and you’re going to hear/make stories that you will never forget. But still, you’re never prepared. With that being said, there are no amount of words to describe what I felt on this trip. All I can say is thank you to the people of Honduras for welcoming with open arms to your beautiful country. I can’t wait to come back one day.
Over the past month I had the opportunity to travel throughout Mexico with my dad to various cities and meet people from different communities. The people are Mexico are some of the most kind and generous people I have ever encountered. I think it is important to reiterate this cause in this post-Trump world, people get the wrong impression of Mexico and immigrants. In fact, most Mexicans are willing to go out of their way to help you, even if it’s just finding the closest market. They will literally walk with you straight to the market so you don’t get lost in the confusing streets (especially since most towns don’t have street signs). It’s crazy spending so much time in Europe/Spain and then going to Mexico and Honduras. The quality of living is so much poorer in some regions and it is honestly very eye-opening. What would be a trip to the Mont in Norman is equivalent to a week’s food for most families, which is crazy to think.
Also, yes Mexico is quite dangerous, but that is only if you are doing something reckless and put yourself in danger. One experience my dad and I had was that we were leaving his small hometown at night in a rural part of Sinaloa, as we made our way down a gravel road, a truck stopped us and out came four Sicario’s with machine guns. We did not make a scene and told them we were passing through to head to the airport. Without any interrogations, they let us pass since we did not cause trouble.
The possibility of this happening was so low that everyone from my dad’s family was shocked they even stopped us and they live there. As long as you don’t pose a threat and aren’t flashing off your money, Mexico is a place you will never want to leave.