OU Study Abroad Fair

The University of Oklahoma has alway suggested to all students that they need to study abroad at some point in their academic career. Personally, I agree with this sentiment; having studied abroad twice to Italy, and knowing the lasting impact it has made on my life., I tell everyone I know they should consider studying abroad. Just traveling outside of my home state makes me not only feel more adventurous, but broadens my knowledge of the world outside my own home and helps me connect better to the rest of the world.

This Fall semester, there was an Education Abroad Fair in the south oval,  just north of Lindsey Street. There were sections devoted to different continents with students and faculty spreading good words about the experiences these programs have to offer. While I was not personally looking to make another flight out of the country by means of OU Education Abroad, I made a trip to see the concessions at hand. Many younger students were gathered around, talking with their friends and the members of the Study Abroad Program about countries and schools they would perhaps be interested in attending. Two of the more notable programs that were being advertised were the OU in Arezzo (Italy) and OU in Rio (Brazil) programs, which hold OU faculty and courses. I remembered studying abroad during the Fall 2015 semester and immediately went back to the friends I made, the Italian culture, and one of my favorite restaurants in the world: Masterchips. While it was difficult to be thousands of miles away from my family and friends at OU, I feel more understanding of the world and fully believe it was a fantastic choice I made for my life.

I encourage any and all students out there that have not yet studied abroad to seriously consider doing so. It is a very large leap to make; most of us that have the choice of living in another country for anywhere from a month to a year, have been away from our regular home lives for less than six months. The Study Abroad Fair brought back amazing experiences I have had and, because of my Abroad experience, I feel more confident than ever in myself and my future after having lived on my own in a foreign country for over 6 months of my life. Having survived in a place where I was forced to learn how to live, I hope to work abroad at some point in my life now. Again, this would not be the case, should I had stayed at OU in Norman all through my undergrad career, and I wish for every single other student out there to take this chance while it is here.

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Indonesia’s Global Engagement

I recently attended a Global Engagement event led by a speaker from Indonesia. Dr. Nana Yuliana, Counsel General of the Republic of Indonesia, was the main speaker and captivated the audience, as well as myself, with a lecture of her home country. Dr. Yuliana’s speech centered on the lives and beliefs of the people of Indonesia in an effort to help us understand the country, culture, and people better than before.

Her opening was an introduction to the country itself, expressing how large it is. It is fascinating, to me, that such a large populations, spread over so much land, can be unified. Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, consisting of approximately 17,000 islands, with nearly 740,000 square miles of land, holding roughly 250 million people. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta, which is also its largest city, and contains 9.5 million citizens. Dr. Yuliana stated that people of Indonesia hold strong religious beliefs, with 88% of citizens being muslim, 9% being Christian, and the other ~3% believing in other religions. Most Indonesians believe in a Supreme God, upholding morals of humanity, and fight for social justice. Women have had a recently increased influence in government, with 17.1% of current seats in Parliament being held by women. Main focuses of the country’s government include Maritime Diplomacy and Foreign Policy.

Dr. Yuliana offered so much information and explained so much that I had never honestly even thought to research before. She opened my eyes to an entire culture and country outside of my own that I rarely even thought about. This truly is a powerful expression of Global communication and I believe this opened the eyes of many others who were there, as well as my own. The fact that somebody who is so different from myself is here and distributing such interesting information about an entire country on the other side of the planet amazes me. I am so thankful that I had attended this event and can only hope to attend more seminars such as this in the future.

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What is means to be a Native American in a global community

Recently, I had the honor of attending the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) 50th National Conference in Denver, Colorado. This was my second conference to attend, and both have been meaningful experiences. Growing up Native American and a woman, there have been many challenges on the path to my education. I have been told that I will not succeed in my chosen degree, simply because I am Native American. I have been pushed around and spoken over as a woman. However, all of that changed at the AISES conference. When you are there, you are not objectified by gender or race, you are simply a person looking for support in a STEM field.

While all of this was amazing, there was something else that inspired me in a global way. At this conference, indigenous people from the Canadian Indigenous Advisory Council (CIAC) were present. In addition to Canadian representation, the entertainment for the closing gala was the Northern Cree, a singing group that is comprised of indigenous people from Canada. While I have grown up in a family with strong ties to my heritage, it is easy for me to forget that I have relatives to the north who have a shared connection to our past. In a sense of the global community, knowing that there is a world that can be connected from something so simple as a distant culture inspired me. I walked away from the conference, determined to pursue a career that will allow me to be more in contact with my global community. I feel that while I have had the opportunity to experience so much at OU, I still am missing out on the world and making connections with people. People that I may only share the connection of being a part of the same world with, but people that I can learn from and use the knowledge that I gain with them to help educate my world and make it a better place.

I am so thankful for the time that I have had so far, and will continue to have, at OU. It is amazing to be a part of a university that cares so much about the entire globe and it’s citizens.

On Being an OUA Ambassador

A major part of being a Global Engagement Fellow is to be a part of an internationally minded student organization. For the past two semesters, I was involved with the foreign film club. However, this semester, I have decided to take a different route and become an OU in Arezzo ambassador. I have done this in the past, however, I have chosen to do it again because of how much I enjoyed it.

One thing I love about being an OUA ambassador is being involved with young students who are planning to immerse themselves into another culture for a long period of time. Some of these students, much like myself, are making the decision to experience another country for the first time in their lives.

Learning about another culture is something that is drastically different than having to live and interact with people, as a foreigner, on a daily basis. Studying abroad is so important because it allows you to see the world as people who come to America do. There are so many different customs and ways of life and it can be hard to understand that when you have been in the US your whole life.

Being able to volunteer my time to answer questions and give advice to a new group of people is my way of giving back to the world at this time. Even though it might not seem like a lot, I have gained so much from my time abroad and enjoy being able to help others who will learn the same lessons that I have.

In the end, being able to relate to others is what gives us the ability to work with other cultures. As a child, I remember getting in fights with my sister over sharing toys. There was always one toy that was special to her and I always wanted to play with it. Until I had a toy that was special to me, I could not understand how she felt about me not wanting to play with hers.

In that same mindset, we cannot relate with other people unless we attempt to see from their point of view. That is why I think studying aboard is so important and why I am excited to help students who are planning to take this big, scary step to studying in a foreign country.

“The Insult” and the Effects of Censorship

The world is becoming more and more connected every day, and with this, people are becoming more open and aware of events which occur at all corners of the planet. Current events, literature, film, and other forms of media from virtually any country can be accessed with ease with the use of the Internet. Individuals seem to have more freedom in expressing their opinions and sharing their views and creations with the world now more than every before.

That being said, there are still troubles being had by some whose works are being suppressed, and in some cases, wholly preventing them from existing. The Insult is a film which had been created to raise awareness of glory and honor between Palestinian and Non-Palestinian people, yet has been pulled from filming, due to threats of violence or even death, should the film be produced. It was going to be played by Kamel El Basha, the first Arab actor to win the Venice Award for “Best Actor”, and directed by Ziad Doueiri, a Lebanese filmmaker. Both men have been noted to hold strong opinions against the halting of filming The Insult, stating that censorship of a political or religious nature could be more likely in the future, with this event having now occurred.

After reading, my question is: How will this affect the global scale of censorship? We, as a global society, learn of other countries and cultures by reading foreign stores, hearing global news stores, and, of course, viewing other cultural films. Should censorship of this caliber continue to be exhibited, how could we, as human beings, be expected to understand other cultures? I personally believe this level of censorship is not only unnecessary, but could have devastating long-term effect, especially in the Middle East. I believe that the world would become a much better place to every person on earth if we are able to stretch our literary, cinematic, and cultural wings and display our views for all people to see.

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Put-in it Out There

Ever since the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, there has been plenty of speculation of Russia getting involved in elections. Yes, multiple elections. Recently in France, there was a vote for leader of the country and Russia happened to be found poking its head into yet another country’s election. Allegedly, at the very least.

What does this ultimately mean? Does this verify further that Russia did indeed affect the U.S. Election, since there is the potential for more than one country having found Russian interference? Who knows, honestly. I do know, however, that this will most definitely reflect poorly on Vladimir Putin the leader of Russia. With increased controversy, one could only assume that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, is possibly up to something in this as well, seeing as Russia and North Korea appear to be on, somewhat, fine terms at the moment. I worry for the safety of the United States, and the rest of the world for that matter, especially if all this turns out to be true.

While I wrote this article in order to bring light to this issue that has been a hot topic recently, I would like to note that I am by no means an expert in this topic, I can only regurgitate what I have heard in the news, from both sides.

I pray for our world. I pray for the future of humanity. Learning about this topic has me humbled for all of humanity. I hope that with the events that have been happening in the world can bring us together, not as different groups of people, but as humans who are trying to make the world a better place.

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Persian Calligraphy

I had the amazing opportunity to attended a Demonstration of Persian Calligraphy this semester. The man who led the class was from a family of Calligraphers who had been creating Calligraphy since he was 3. I had never thought about the fine details that there are in Calligraphy or how inspired this niche art truly is.

Calligraphy, according to the speaker, has been linked to spiritual awakening, noting that before he begins a new creation, he will pray and listen to classical hymns, to become more attuned to the mindset of those who originated Calligraphy as an art form. I was so amazed with how interested and inspiring this art form is. I had always though Calligraphy was more or less fancy writing. But it has so much more than that in its history and I am now more interested than ever in learning about Calligraphy myself.

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Eve of Nations 2017

In the Spring 2017 semester, I attended Eve of Nations, which was essentially an international fashion and talent show. The popular clothing of many corners of the Earth, such as Japan, India, and Mexico were present in this event. One strange thing that happened was at the beginning of the show, there was a fault in the power, which caused the video to stop but kept the music playing. Apparently, the entire show and music had to be synced perfectly for it to follow through properly. This lapse in electricity caused the entire event to be reset. It was a very fun event and I honestly really enjoyed getting to attend with friends. I have always been aware of fashion but was surprised by many outfits I saw. It was eye-opening and I was so thankful that I was able to be there.

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Armenian Genocide Concerts

Early this semester, with my husband, I attended a guitar concert which featured the University of Oklahoma’s Larry Hammet. The concert consisted of he and one other individual playing classic style guitar music.

His associate, who preferred to not have his name mentioned, created a beautiful piece which he played for our amusement. As he went on his next song, he noted that, “in this, I present the cries of lost loved ones during the Armenian Genocide, with the screams of these people being reflected in the strings.”

After leaving, my husband and I spoke for a long time about his words and how genocide still occurs to this day. It is a sore topic and one no one likes to think about, but that does not mean it doesn’t happen. To this day, there are still individuals in Syria and other middle eastern countries fleeing for their lives. Knowing that there are still others in pain and dying, it is horrible to believe it still occurs.

I am glad that I attended this event because of the discussion that it sparked and helped me to draw my attention to problems that are going on across the world, not just in America.

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International Club

As a member of Global Engagement Fellows, we prioritize the understanding other cultures, in many varying methods. One way we do this is through media, which allows us to view perspectives on cultures from the eyes of those who live within them. The Foreign Film Club allowed me to understand the problems of other people and how their cultural identities are affected by these issues. With movies, such as The Kite Runner and The African Doctor, which we watched this semester, I was immersed in the mindsets and views of those who are from other corners of the Earth. I believe this allows us to become more knowledgeable and open to understanding of others, as we can see firsthand from media, these people and their lives.

I am very glad that I am a member of this community, as it allows me to become culturally aware and has shown me how to effectively view and work with other cultures.

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