International Event #2: Persian Poetry Night

On the night of November 30, I attended Persian Poetry Night at the University of Oklahoma. This was noted as being the first such event at the university, with hopes of it becoming a prolonged event for years to come.

The room was set up with many Persian/Iranian texts, decorations, and a table of Persian-inspired refreshments. There were many speakers at this event, most being students, with a few faculty also taking part in this occasion. All poems were first spoken in Persian, then translated into English.

Poems were first read by students enrolled in the Intermediate Persian course, with some definite parallels being made across all poems. Since this is poetry, it delved deeply into emotions, feelings of love and loss, as well as pulling out many metaphors. I could not help but notice how the English translations seemed to take into account the depth of the feelings which were being spoken of.

More poems were later read by those enrolled in the Beginner Persian course, with these poems holding a bit more concrete value within them. All were spoken on the behalf of an individual which was close to the speaker, or so it seemed. The only exception was a poem written in hopes to unify the world, despite all the factors which divide it.

I left the poetry reading with a new found understanding of the feelings and emotions caught up within the Persian language. So much is based on love and the pursuit of such. I found these poems to be both saddening, as well as up-lifting. I do hope more attend the next poetry night. It is definitely worth the time.


Alexis Keeling


The U.S. After the Loss of Castro

November 25, 2016. This is said to be the day of the death of Fidel Castro, a former military leader of Cuba. The least one could say is that he lived a life full of controversy, from the Cuban Missile crisis, to the U.S. embargo with Cuba, up to his leave of office in 2008.

With all this in mind, those whom are afflicted with death deserve respects paid to them, regardless of how others viewed them. Now, I believe it will be very interesting to see how the global community will be affected by his death.

Since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, leading to President Kennedy establishing a trade embargo with Cuba shortly thereafter, Castro has caused both Americans and Cubans to view one another in a tainted light. This all being said, the trade embargo with Cuba has been officially lifted for roughly a year now to the publication of this post.

I do not believe it would be far-fetched to believe that relations between Cuba and the United States will improve now. With the sole individual viewed as most responsible for these actions, I believe it is now time for those who opposed this man to withhold from seeing Cuba in the perspective with which they have for five and a half decades now. Trade may increase between the countries as well as tourism, with potential to boost both countries’ economies.

In the end, I think it is a sad day to see most anyone pass on, regardless of your previous view of them. With Fidel Castro now gone, it is now time to let the past be the past and look past the problems of Cuba, as the man who took on the brunt of these actions is no longer active. I do hope to see the day where relations are restored fully.


Alexis Keeling


Foreign Film Club: The Year My Parents Went On Vacation

The night of November 17, 2016 was movie night! With the Foreign Film Club. This initial meeting for this new club began in Headington Hall, with the viewing of the Brazilian film: The Year My Parents Went On Vacation.

This film was based on the life of a young boy, no older than 10, who loved football (soccer), but was left t live with a distant relative. All he knew was that there was some sort of conflict going on within the country, just as his parents ‘decided to go on vacation’. It was rather fearful, for I could not imagine having to go even one month without hearing from my parents, let alone a whole year!

Without wanting to spoil the film, I will simply say that I enjoyed the movie, though I am not entirely sure why. It felt like a film that would hit home very hard to those who were very aware of all the conflict which had occurred at the time. Not being educated over the content, as well as explanation of the conflicts not being present within the film, I feel additional research over the inspiration of this film would be necessary for most of us which attended this viewing.

I said earlier I enjoyed the film, and I did. It was not only the movie, but also the time and people involved in the club. All seemed so very nice, with many being open, talking with others. I am very happy to have joined this club, and have very high hopes for it in the future.


Alexis Keeling


Brexit: An Update During the American Election Craze

It is 2016 and no topic in the entire world is under more of a magnifying glass than the quickly approaching U.S. Presidential Election. Virtually nothing this year has even come across the front page of newspapers quite like the upcoming election. Nothing. Except Brexit.

Brexit, or the Britain Exit, is the leave of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). The EU is a partnership of 28 countries which have formed an alliance as like-minded entities. The UK, made up of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, have collectively agreed upon referendum to officially vacate the EU, hence. Brexit.

Though I did not initially understand what Brexit would cause, It has occurred to me over the course of this election just how divided the United States is, and it honestly applies to this as well. While Britain and Wales voted strongly in favor for leaving the EU, Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

I feel this could turn out poorly for Ireland and Scotland in the eyes of the global community. The UK leave is a package deal, with all four countries exiting the EU together, with no way for the countries of Ireland and Scotland, who opposed the exit, to stay in the EU. Not only are outside countries looking at Ireland and Scotland to have joined the leave with the rest of the UK (though their vote held majority for staying in the EU), likely in a negative light, I could see England and Wales seeing these other two countries as double agents in a way, having voted against what the other UK members desired.

In addition to this, Theresa May, the new Prime Minister of Britain since the vote for Brexit, has been vocal in her desires to restrict the number of immigrants taken in to England. This could compound negatively along with the Brexit vote for them, resulting in a culmination of conflicts of interest that Britain may not see as of yet. I do wonder what could happen to EU citiznes residing within the UK, and viceversa.

I do not foresee doom and gloom for the UK, but these countries are divided based on their voting stance, as well as being seen in a darker light now than before the election. Perhaps something good will miraculously come from this. I hope for all our sake that this is true.


Alexis Keeling


International Event #1: Iran Nuclear Discussion

On September 8, 2016 my husband and I attended a discussion concerning the new nuclear arms deal with Iran. Before diving in to the meat of the discussion, I will say that I felt very unaware of many of the topics discussed, even though I had heard stories related to them to some extent for the most part.

The ambassador of Iran, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, stated that the deal was considered a win-win. While holding massive intrusive measured in the search for nuclear weapons, Iran had hopes of gaining peace in efforts to create nuclear technology.

Over the course of the discussion, the intrusions of the United States in Iran was a very hot topic. The stretched from the U.S. looking to suppress the advancements in nuclear technologies in Iran, to this same suppression in France, whom Iran had hopes in making deals with.

With no way of noting everything that was mentioned in the discussion, one of the key, final statements made by Mousavian during the night was that “if Iran truly wanted to produce a nuclear bomb, they would”, Safe to say, controversies of all sorts were present in this discussion.

While I found much of the content somewhat skeptical, I left feeling much more educated in the subject matter, knowing that this sort of raw discussion is rare to stumble upon, especially for this sensitive topic.

Without a doubt, I do hope that future deals be able to ultimately please all concerned with them.


Alexis Keeling


Italian Club Bake Sale

This semester, I volunteered with the Italian Club for their bake sale. I had so much fun helping out. While I was volunteering, a lady (I believe a professor) brought in a panettone! It took me back to Italy. One of the students studying abroad with us had a birthday. For his birthday, his home stay family threw him a party and invited all of the students over. It was so much fun! Because it was so close to Christmas, the family had a panettone that they served for diner.

Volunteering reminded me of the many traditional Italian meals while I was abroad. So, I am going to try to remember exactly everything we ate that night. Just to show my readers a little ‘taste’ of Italian culture (GET IT?! TASTE?!)

To the best of my memory, we started dinner with some sort of pasta dish that was amazing! We all ate a lot because we thought that was the main course… But it was only the beginning…

Next, she brought out meat and a pepper blend of amazingness and some cabbage? stuff? Not sure..

I know there was more that she brought out, but there was so much it’s difficult to remember.

After our main course was finished she brought out a homemade tiramisu along with a panettone and some fruit.

After dinner, we all sat around an open fire that literally had chestnuts roasting on it.

Spending the holiday season in Italy was an experience I would not trade for anything. And I do not believe I will ever stop sharing about all of the good food that I ate there.

Back to reality and America, I was helping with the bake sale and the lady sat the panettone down. When I looked at it, I immediately flashed back to that amazing dinner. Memories like that will continue to follow me. Memories that I never want to forget.


Alexis Keeling

P.S. I have attached a recipe for a panettone because I really want to eat an entire one by myself!

Panettone Recipe


Eve of Nations

EVE OF NATIONS WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was not going to go to this event originally (because it cost $$ and I’m a college student). But my husband agreed to go with me. AND IT WAS SO COOL.

It started out with a fashion show. They modeled traditional clothing styles from their countries. All of the clothes were beautiful. It was so much fun.

The next part was performances by different international clubs on campus. This was my favorite part. Seeing all of the traditional dances and performances and cultural presentations was amazing.

The night was so beautiful. It honestly left me with a loss for words.

I highly encourage everyone to attend next year’s eve of nations with me! It was amazing!


Alexis Keeling


Salam Neighbor

Another requirement for GEF is that we need to attend globally minded events every semester. I am truly grateful for this requirement because it encourages me to be more engaged on campus. One such event that I attended was the showing of the movie Salam Neighbor.

The movie is about what life is like at Za’atari, one of the largest refugee camps. The story follows two men, Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci as they film what life is like for the refugees.

One of the major (spoiler: heartbreaking) stories they follow is about this young boy named Ra’ouf. Since being at the camp, Ra’ouf has not attended school. Throughout the movie, the two men try and convince their new friend to enroll in the school on the grounds. Eventually, he gives in. The 10 year old boy goes with his family and the filmmakers to enroll. However, when it comes down to actually attending class, he beings to cry and cannot bring himself to go. Eventually, the two men find out that Ra’ouf’s school was bombed before they left for the camp. Those wounds had not yet healed.

Watching this movie was an eyeopener to all of the death and destruction around the world. Yet, with all of the negative, people still find reasons to be happy.

Seeing all of the hope and passion from these people was inspiring. There was one lady who made hair clips in her spare time to earn an income for her family.

I would recommend this movie to everyone. It was truly life changing.


Alexis Keeling


OUA Ambassador

A requirement for being apart of GEF requires that we be apart of one international club. This semester, I chose to work with the OUA Ambassadors. This required that I table and attend pre departure orientations. The reason that I chose to be apart of this is because of how much I truly believe that study abroad changed my life. I want to be a resource to people who are considering studying abroad.

I mentioned “tabling” earlier. Tabling is when we set up a booth somewhere (I helped with one on the South Oval) and hand out information for studying abroad.

During this semester, I had the opportunity to meet the students who are going to be spending next Fall in Arezzo. Seeing all of their hopeful faces was amazing. There pre-study abroad faces. Studying abroad isn’t a bad thing! It just changes you. You feel older, more accomplished. After going on the adventure of a life time, you feel like there is nothing you cannot do.

While I don’t know if I will be apart of OUA Ambassadors next semester, I was grateful to help out this semester.


Alexis Keeling

P.S. My name changed because Chris and I were married on the 14th!


Italy – Thanks for the Memories

Studying abroad was a major challenge. Not only for me, but for my entire family. I have mentioned in previous blog posts about all of the issues that my family had gone through. Leaving my family was difficult, being away from my family  was difficult, but most of all, leaving Italy was difficult. I truly believe that studying abroad has made the largest impact in my life. When I applied for the Global Engagement Fellowship, I mentioned that traveling and studying languages helped to understand other cultures. It helps to understand where other people come from. It helps to understand global issues. It helps when solving problems. Now that I have been abroad, I believe that leaving helped me to grow.

I am truly blessed that I had the opportunity to spend as much time in Italy as I did. However, there is one small problem. The world seems smaller now.

Ever since I have been back, all I want to do is travel. I want to see the world. I want to know everything there is to know about every place!

I miss so much about Italy already. I miss my friends, I miss the people, I miss the shops, I miss the culture, I miss the streets.

Now that I am back, I am able to look back on my experience. Being able to study abroad as an Undergrad was a privilege. I feel like it prepared me for my future travels and experiences.

In conclusion, I miss you Italy. I hope to see you soon…


Alexis Hall