Diversity Issues in Study Abroad (GEF Entry)

From 1991-2001 a survey regarding the experiences of study abroad students was published by Brown University outlining specific encounters of students studying in the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, and Australia. The results showed the vast array of experiences that American students underwent while traveling abroad; the experiences outlined the difficulties and privileges of being an American in a foreign space. It was interesting to see how the treatments of the students varied from country to country, with some countries being more accepting of Americans, and others not so much. For this Global Engagement Blog entry, I will be taking a deeper look into the the study and what it shows us.

The study begins with the stories of six female students studying abroad in various countries within Africa, such as Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The common thread that seems to exist between each of their stories is how they were perceived in the financial sense. All six of the students say that they were presumed to be wealthy just because they were American. As to why this is, there is no way to know for sure but that is one thing I found interesting. As far as the other continents, the majority of the students did not seem to encounter this on such a large scale. Also, throughout the study the students reflected on what it meant to be an American in a foreign country. Some students found it to be a humbling experience, while others felt targeted and lost. As someone who plans on studying abroad, I found these experiences, although a bit outdated, insightful. They offered a perspective that I will remember before, during, and after my journey. Most importantly, I believe it is my responsibility as an American traveling abroad to represent my country in the best and most respectful way possible, taking into account the experiences and perspectives of those around me. As a student and Global Engagement Fellow at OU, I have the awesome responsibility to study abroad on behalf of my university and country, and it is crucial to keep that in mind when overseas.

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The Case for South Africa (GEF Entry)

As a recipient of the Global Engagement Fellowship at the University of Oklahoma, I have the opportunity to take two fully funded trips abroad. One of these trips has to be one semester long, and the other one only a few weeks. I am very grateful for that I am awarded the chance to travel to different countries around the world and immerse myself in their culture, as I have always loved to travel. For my first trip abroad, I would like to spend a semester studying in South Africa. While in South Africa, I hope to continue my undergraduate studies at the University of Fort Hare in Alice, while spending the weekend traveling across the country and absorbing as much knowledge about its history as I can. I have always been interested South Africa as a country, mostly because of the Apartheid system and its demise. Much like Jim Crow and segregation here in the United States, Apartheid seemed to limit the social presence and political power of colored peoples. The apartheid system was eventually disbanded due to the bravery of a few who started a movement. Most notable among these being Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Desmond Tutu, and so many more. The anti-apartheid movement shows us what the power of a few individuals committed to justice and equality can do. It is truly inspiring.
While in South Africa, I hope to learn more about the movement, how it came about, and how it accomplished its goal. I am blessed with the opportunity to travel to such a place, and I hope to make the most of my time in South Africa!

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Jacob Zuma, the ANC, and the Future of South Africa

Jacob Zuma assumed power as the fourth president of South Africa in May 2009. Today, February 14th 2018, Zuma resigned amid severe pressure from his political party, The African National Congress. Zuma’s presidency was plagued by allegations and charges of corruption; where at one point the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that he must face 18 counts of corruption over a multibillion dollar arms deal stemming back to 1999. During much of Zuma’s political career, the shadow of scandal followed him, but he always seemed to weather the storm, earning him the nickname “Teflon President.” After a recall and request for his immediate resignation by the ANC’s National Executive Committee, Zuma announced Wednesday morning via a television address that he would resign as president of the republic. In his address, he said that no life should be lost in his name, and the ANC should never be divided because of him. But what was Zuma’s relationship with the ANC, and why did they call for the resignation of a president from their own party?

The African National Congress, founded in 1912, has been the ruling party of a post-Apartheid South Africa. The ANC gained significant international attention in 1994 with the presidential election of Nelson Mandela. Jacob Zuma first got involved with the ANC through its Youth League, notably founded by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Oliver Tambo. In 1963, Zuma was arrested and sent to Robbin Island, where he spent 10 years in prison alongside Mandela. After being released from jail, Zuma got more involved within the ANC, eventually being elected as the Deputy President in 1997. After working and assuming leadership roles within the ANC for quite some time, Zuma was elected as president with the backing of his party. After years of stagnant economic conditions, corruption scandals, and unpopularity with his people, Zuma began to lose the confidence of his own party. The ANC, in an effort to rebuild its image ahead of the 2019 elections, has moved on from Jacob Zuma and is looking for a fresh start with a new leader. As of today, The ANC seems to be pushing for Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president, to succeed Zuma and rebuild the image of the ANC as well as reboot the economy and clamp down on corruption.

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A United Korea?

In January 2018, news broke that North and South Korea would march together under one flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Both North and South Korea have agreed to form a women’s hockey team and send it to the games along with a joint delegation of athletes and supporters. These negotiations are a major breakthrough for a region that has been plagued by tense relations for decades. It is important to note that the last time South Korea hosted the Olympics in 1988, two agents, acting on behalf of North Korea, bombed a commercial airliner headed to the games. The bombing resulted in the death of all 115 people on board, and lead to increased tensions between the two nations.

30 years later, the world may be witnessing a significant step in meaningful negotiation talks between North and South Korea. This is especially surprising, because global talks for a nuclear-weapon-free North Korea have not exactly been going so well as of late. With the increasing tension and war of words between the U.S., North Korea, and other world powers, any step towards peace is a major one.

So what does this mean? Are we seeing a new age of communication between these neighbors? Certainly this development shouldn’t be overlooked, but some South Koreans warn that this is just a move by the North to buy time to advance its arsenal, while some hardliners are even going as far as warning that there will be another act of aggression at the games this year. The willingness by North Korea to come to the negotiating table is a drastic change in its policy, and could signal a new age of communication, but it should be approached with caution. North Korea has a history of making false and baseless claims, and world powers should keep this in mind when addressing their foreign policy.

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Beginning of a new Era

Robert Mugabe’s rise to power was similar to that of Nelson Mandela’s. Both grew up in impoverished conditions with discrimination and segregation an integral part of everyday life. Both attended the University of Fort Hare in South Africa where they equipped themselves with the necessary tools to lead a movement. Robert Mugabe and Nelson Mandela were both trailblazers in a fight for equality and justice, and as leaders, both would assumed vastly different roles. Unlike Mandela in South Africa, Mugabe was seen as a dictator amongst his people. Mugabe was involved in corruption schemes, passed unfair policies, and most recently fired his vice president in order to ease the transition of power to his wife Grace Mugabe. Recently, I have been seeing and reading a lot about Mugabe, his rise to power, and his decline in effective leadership for his people. In November, news broke that Robert Mugabe had resigned as president of Zimbabwe after the military seized control and asked him to give up his power. Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s fired vice president, is in line to be the next leader of Zimbabwe, marking an end to Robert Mugabe’s reign. After years of leadership under Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe are ready for the beginning of a new era.

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Do you trust what you ‘Like’?

On Monday, November 13th I attended a lecture by Dr. Kenneth Rogerson titled, “Do you Trust What you ‘Like’? Navigating Social Media and Politics.” The lecture was put on by the University of Oklahoma’s Cyber Governance and Policy Center. The talk focused on what “fake news” is and how it impacts our society and habits. Dr. Rogerson argued that “fake news” as it has come to be called today, has actually been around for quite a while. Disinformation campaigns and the weaponization of information has been prevalent for quite some time, but have recently gained more and more traction due to the politicized state of our nation. When dealing with “fake news,” we can take a few different approaches, as summarized by Dr. Rogerson. The different approaches are apathy (not caring), belief (confirmation bias), skepticism, and fact-checking. It is important that we consider sources, recognize confirmation bias, and fact-check the information we are presented.

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Inclusive Language and Cultural Appropriation

On Wednesday, November 8th I attended a discussion put on by OU’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Kenneth Chapman, and Latino Student life Advisor, Matt Cancio. This discussion covered  the importance of using inclusive language in today’s day and age, and properly approaching/addressing cultures that differ from our own. This exchange of dialogue was set to the backdrop of a culturally insensitive halloween costume that was worn by a member of OU’s Greek Life. The costume gained attention because it was posted on social media with an inflammatory and provocative comment.

About 50-60 people from all different walks of life and cultures attended the discussion, with a wide array of ethnicities and backgrounds present. Going into the discussion, I expected it to consist only of a  “smack-down” per say of the individual that posted the photo, but I was surprised to find that the speakers specifically made the effort to reach out and educate us on the importance of valuing others cultures. The speakers started off by saying that although we may not like to admit it, every one of us hold some sort of bias.

The speakers then went on to talk about the ways one can “approach” a culture they are not familiar with. One can approach as an invader, a tourist, and a guest. When you approach as an invader, you take an aspect of another culture without giving anything back. For example, the young lady who intentionally posted the insensitive photo on social media was acting as an invader. She took aspects of another culture and displayed them through her costume while not acknowledging the centuries of tradition and history that accompanied such articles of clothing. When acting as a tourist, we tend to only recognize certain aspects of a culture and not take into account the culture and it’s history as a whole. An example of a tourist approach could be

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Hello world!

Hey Everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Adam Khan and I am a freshman at the University of Oklahoma! I am so excited to share my adventures with you all. Stay posted!

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