I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post how much I enjoy listening to music from different cultures.  For one of my Arabic class, we were tasked with presenting on an Arabic song, food, or holiday.  My group decided to analyze the song L3AYN L7AMRA by Muslim.  It was a very dark song considering the flow of the melody.  It tells the story of a man slowly descending into madness and despair.  The man was relentlessly bullied by another individual.  Eventually, he had enough and set out for revenge.   The song is really well written and the emotion seems raw in the singer’s voice.  Here’s the link if any of you want to check it out:


White Helmets

While sifting through the Netflix documentary section, I came across The White Helmets a 2016 documentary film that shows the efforts of a group of indomitable first responders that risk their lives to rescue victims of the daily airstrikes in Syria.  The White Helmets focuses on three members of the group, Khaled Farah, Abu Omar, and Mohammed Farah.  It follows these men as they struggle to balance volunteers to rescue victims and working to come home to their families safely.  Watching these men risk their livelihood to save a week-old baby almost allows you to forget the misery and terror these people are facing on a daily basis.  Due to the fact that “The White Helmets” are an organization operating outside the area of regime control has brought accusations and mistrust.  However, the director of this film believes that these men are the real heroes.  Khaleed Khateeb is a volunteer for the Syria Civil Defense forces, rescuing those caught in the crossfire of the civil war.  The Syria Civil Defense forces are informally known as the White Helmets due to their headgear.  Khateeb began filming scenes of the rescue missions and posting them on YouTube. The director, Orlando von Einsiedel, decided to make the documentary about the group, he contacted Khateeb, gave him better equipment, and told him to keep filming.  In the five years since the civil war between President Bashar Assad’s government and the rebel group began, more that 250,000 Syrians have died in the resulting conflict.  But, thanks to the White Helmets, over 60,000 lives have been saved.  Einsiedel was moved by the story and Khateeb’s videos and went on to make an Oscar winning documentary.  While the film sparked a wave of controversy, I found the film to be extremely interesting and well executed. It definitely a gave me a new perspective on the Syrian civil war and I suggest that anyone interested in the conflict to watch it. While it is obviously a biased film considering that who it follows, it offers a unique perspective to an important international issue that too many people are uniformed about.


Day of the Dead Festival

Because I love the movie Coco so much, I decided to go to OU’s Day of the Dead festival at the Lloyd Noble Center. The experience I had was very similar to the feeling I get when watching the film. There was an aura of community and family at the festival. There were people from different walks of life that were able to come together and celebrate family past and present. In such divisive times, I think it’s so important to hold on to moments like this when people are able to come together with a common purpose.

The festival itself was so much fun. There was live music, rides, and amazing food. I waited an hour for street tacos, but they were the best darn tacos I have ever eaten. I don’t regret a thing. There were booths selling a multitude of things, but one of my favorites was a booth selling skull keychains made of recycled records. Most important though was the ofrenda. I loved that they had a place for photos of loved ones lost so that the community could come together and support each other during this holiday.

OU in Puebla Ambassador Part 2

Hello y’all,

Once again I am writing a post about being an OU in Puebla Ambassador! 1. I still love being able to boast and support the OU in Puebla Study Abroad program. 2. I definitely want to go back to Puebla!

This year I was able to support the OU in Puebla study abroad program by participating in Mexico week. I had a ton of fun just being able to tell other students about the OU in Puebla program and really showing them how great it is to study abroad (specifically in Puebla). It was exciting to be able to talk about Puebla with other students who did the OU in Puebla program (just at other times).

Honestly, when I think about it, this study abroad program is truly wonderful. I love how it takes feedback from the students and implements it into the program design. The Ou in Puebla program now has a summer Pre-med program. This program is constantly improving. I truly hope that it is able to develop more and more each year and that more students are able to have the opportunity to see what Puebla offers.



Senior Year!

It is my final year! Which means this is the last year of posts for this blog. Lately, I have been very reflective of my time here at the University of Oklahoma. I have defintely changed since I started my journey at OU. I am more open minded, culturally aware, mature, and adaptive to my environment. One of the reason I have to thank for this growth and development of mine is the opportunity that OU gave me. Because of this university, I was able to study abroad not once BUT twice. Because of this university I have made friends from all over the world and have gotten to learn so much about different cultures that I would not have been able to learn in a classroom. Because of this university I get to meet people from all over the world without even having to leave Oklahoma. There are so many itnernational events on campus and Ou’s international community grows every year. I am so glad of the opportunities that OU has given me and I just wanted to write an appreciation post.

Anyway, here’s to senior year!



WHO Panel

While I was at the WHO conference in Oklahoma City, we listened to a panel on the nature of public health in Oklahoma and across the world as a whole. This was after the initial committee meetings but before we convened for lunch so we had already had had some experience with how important it was to debate things in a public setting in order to get everyone on the same page. I had personally spent much of the past several hours being very belligerent as I attempted to properly portray Malaysia as a country with a religious bent that didn’t want anything “obscene” to show up in the resolution they would be signing on to.

The panel started out with how important health was around the world as it effects everyone and everything they do. It affects countries, people, and businesses all in ways we never seem to truly consider. From there, it spread to education and how it is important to have a well-educated population who can make correct decisions on their own. Naturally, all the panelists agreed that it was a bad idea for the state of Oklahoma to underfund education like they had as it will lead to bad things in the future. This is a point I agree with. It did get a bit political at the end as it was suggested that the rise in political polarization (stemming from certain figures in the federal government) was contributing to our unwillingness to debate health possibilities in a way that was free on falsehoods. Overall, I thought it was a fascinating panel as everyone on it was able to bring a unique take on what may be the best way forward to deal with these issues.


Día De Los Muertos

Last Sunday, I left work early to go to the Día de los Muertos street fair. It was in the Lloyd Noble parking lot, which is right by my apartment. So not only was it fun, but it was also convenient.

Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday, which actually is a multi-day holiday. It actually originated from an Aztec tradition, and it didn’t begin as a fall holiday, but after Mexico was colonized by catholic Spain, the holiday slowly migrated toward October 31 to coincide with All-Saint’s-Eve. The point of Día de los Muertos is to remember and honor loved ones and ancestors who have passed away. People build ofrendas, kind of like little alters, with candles, marigolds, crucifixes and photos of deceased family members.

A lot of traditional Día de los Muertos traditions have migrated to other parts of the world, brought along with Mexican emigrants. In the US, Día de los Muertos is not a national holiday, but it has become a cultural event–especially in states near the border like Texas and Oklahoma.

I’d never been to the festival. I was slightly surprised by how many people came to the Lloyd Noble event. I expected a big turn out, but I expected it to be mostly students. But there were so many people from Norman, Moore, and I even met a couple from OKC. It was also a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I expected food trucks and craft tables, like the events that we hold on the South Oval. But there was a huge stage where several bilingual performances took place, an eating area, and a few carnival rides.

I wandered around, got some street tacos and took photos. Unfortunately I was too poor to buy some of the art that caught my eye, like the handmade dreamcatchers. But I had a great time, and this kind of event is definitely something I’d seek out in the future.

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Russian Research

Next semester I will be completing my Honors Research in a Russian topic, in order to complete my Honors requirements and to incorporate more Russian content into my undergraduate studies, before beginning my Pharmacy Graduate Degree Program. Below I outline several topics of interest for this semester-long project, into which I plan to incorporate both cultural and scientific aspects in my research, again tying together my Russian and Biochemistry backgrounds.

  1. “Maternity hospitals,” in English, or “Родильный дом,” in Russian, were established by the Tsar Nicholas II in 1897 in order to keep women from having birth on the streets. Therefore, while they were helpful and provide more care and sanitation, they also brought the stigma upon women who had children in hospitals that they were poor or low-class. The more tasteful alternative, and the option available only to the rich and the royal, was to give birth with the help from a midwife at home. This concept of birthing hospitals was expanded upon during the period of Soviet Russia and an extensive infrastructure for greater maternal healthcare was established.
  2. There are several well-known Russian writers that also had backgrounds in medical training.  Of authors I have already read, this title includes Anton Chekhov and Mikhail Bulgakov, whose lifespans overlap for the last ten years of the 19th century. With this topic, I would like to compare and contrast the differences in medical training between these two men and how that affected each of their writing works. Then I would like to compare their works with those of a more modern Russian writer-doctor, such as of Leonid Tsypkin, who wrote in the mid-20th century. While I think it would be very interesting to analyze the way that science affected the writings of these men, I foresee that this project could also provide fascinating speculations on how their writings portrayed science to the general people.
  3. Film throughout the Soviet period would be a vast topic to cover, and would necessarily include an in-depth discussion on the widespread censorship of the time. With the topic of films, I am considering delving into science-fiction works, being critical of what these imply of scientific understanding and public impressions of the period.

WHO Mock Delegation

This past weekend, I was a delegate at the Mock WHO conference held in Oklahoma City. Beforehand, we were presented with the countries that we would represent. I ended up getting Malaysia. I was quite happy to have a chance to represent them as I did not know much about them before I was to represent them. Through my research, I was able to learn that they are a Muslim majority country with Islam as the official religion and they actually have pretty good doctors for the region but they do not have them evenly distributed throughout urban and rural areas. I knew these would be the angles I’d be coming from so I was very excited to get started.

First, we had our resolutions in which we discussed the impact education had on health in our individual regions. I was a real stick in the mud as I insisted that there be no reference to contraceptives or sexual activity as I considered such dialogue “immoral”. Unfortunately for the delegate of Malaysia, the resolution passed the small committee talks with the language still in there. We then went to the final delegation with all the committee members present to vote and make amendments to each other’s resolutions. I formed a powerful voting bloc with members of the AFRO region and we managed to get several phrases struck out of the resolutions. Something I particularly enjoyed was there were a few times when an amendment would only be supported by the country asking for it, myself, and the Philippines (who I was sitting next to). At the end I won best delegate for my region! Overall, it was a great experience and one I wish to repeat in the future.


Holding Back

I would be lying if I said that depression did not play a role in my college career.

In fact, it played a pretty big one.

I had this misconception as a freshman that I had to be the best in every class (4.0 could still be accomplished after all) which led to a certain estrangement from family my very first semester here at OU. Thank god it still is the only time in my life when I went for weeks at a time without talking to my sister. I am so grateful to be able to look in my parents’ eyes and feel the love and care that they so graciously afford me despite the chaos of their own lives.

I experimented with Goddard at the time, and the experience was lacking. My intake appointment was scheduled two months in advance, and we met rarely. I can’t say the entire experience was wasted because the institution is bad because I was still learning how to formulate all my innermost thoughts, desires and emotions into words that somebody else could understand (my blog has been a tremendously helpful tool with this, too). However, when I went back into counseling just a year later, my experience with the graduate counseling services was so much better. Until it got shut down.

There is so much stigma around depression that it can be hard to believe a student when they claim that their severe depression affected their studies or general responsibilities. I avoid telling professors at all costs my weaknesses because I do not want them to think that I am taking advantage of their generosity and understanding.

That being said, I want to scream to the void that I just cannot keep up with school AND extracurriculars. I simply cannot take 15 credit hours, work for sustenance, participate in research, and go to club meetings/events. My generation seems to define ourselves by what few hours of sleep we get, # of internships that we apply to, and # of clubs that we participate in. How do people possibly balance these aspects of college?

Tangent aside, depression comes in various forms and linked to a variety of events. It can begin due to environmental, physiological and social reasons.

With that in mind, I surround myself with amazing, supportive people that will always have my back. There are many outlets in which to express myself: music, sketching, running, learning new languages, dance, cooking, etc.

I have learned some physical aspects about myself that lead me down the dark path unless I take heed–vitamin D, warmth, and exercise. That is just to name a few, but these three are especially crucial to avoiding seasonal depression.

The one thing that I’ve never be able to quite get right, however, is how social interaction can spur a bout of depression. It’s not to say that talking to people makes me sad, or that spending long spans of time with people is bad.

Since this territory is largely unknown still, I do not quite know how social interaction affects my tendency towards depression. On some level, I am sure that it is fear. This is the kind of fear that we all share: what if others think badly of me? I seem to have surmounted the challenge of liking myself despite what others may think, but I still would like to have solid interactions with my peers. I overthink what to say during small talk situations and end up saying nothing at all.

This builds up over the course of the day, and I end up sharing nothing. I am drained because of this internal struggle, so it has never been easy to participate in a club all semester long.

I must address these issues because it is far to difficult to keep pretending on my blog that all these light and joyful events define my emotional roller coaster that is the college experience.

Now that’s off my chest, I’ll be back soon with your regular scheduled programming of international events from this past semester! I swear I’ve had fun too 😛