אושפיזין (Ushpizin)

The Hebrew Club at OU recently put on a showing of the movie Ushpizin in Meacham Auditorium in the Oklahoma Memorial Union. It’s a fascinating movie that provides a look into the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Israel that is rarely seen, as they are a fairly isolated and self-contained community. I loved this movie because it provided a positive perspective on the community that is usually depicted in a negative light in film because it is so conservative and can be seen as oppressive to women. The movie follows the life Moshe and his wife Malli, members of the ultra-Orthodox community, who are preparing for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, where a temporary dwelling is built in honor of the Israelites who wandered in tents in the desert after escaping from the Egyptians. They are surprised with Ushpizin, or guests, who have escaped from prison and have past ties with Moshe. I’m not going to give away what happens in the movie because I hope you’ll watch it, but it really does provide a fascinating look into a normally isolated community. It respectfully depicts many Jewish customs and celebrations, while at the same time bringing the viewer on an emotional journey through the life of an ultra-Orthodox Jew. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a movie that caused me to feel the emotions that the characters were feeling, which I loved. It’s excellently directed and cast, and I would encourage everyone to watch it!

קפה עברי

This semester I enrolled in a Hebrew class, probably because I’m crazy, but also because I wanted to stretch myself and try to tackle a language outside the sphere of the Romance languages. I don’t think I knew what I was really getting myself into, until on the first day we started learning a new alphabet and I realized I hadn’t done anything like that since I was around 2 or 3 years old. Well, now we’re nearly three months in and (praise the Lord) I think I’ve finally mastered the alphabet and can now say simple sentences like “I have a fish” and “I love chocolate,” which is honestly all you really need to know how to say, right?

Well, along with forming a tiny family within my nine-person Hebrew class, I’ve also become a full-fledged member of the Hebrew club. My first Hebrew club meeting was a little painful because at that point I could barely manage to reply “Good” (טוב) when someone asked me how I was doing, but as I’m slowly becoming more proficient they’re becoming more enjoyable. Our professor is possibly the kindest person I’ve ever met, and always bribes us with treats from Israel like rugelech and bamba, which are both ridiculously delicious. Recently the Hebrew Club had a bake sale to raise funds which was much more successful than anyone dreamed, so hopefully I’ll have some exciting updates before the end of the semester!

That being said, I would seriously encourage anyone who wants to get out of their language comfort zone to consider Hebrew, one of the oldest living languages in the world! It’s difficult but the rewarding feeling of knowing how to write a word using a different alphabet is completely worth it.

Tierra Tinta Conferencia

It’s starting to hit me that I’m in my last year of undergrad and that the real world is quickly approaching, which simultaneously excites and terrifies me. There are so many things that I’m going to miss about the college environment, especially the wide range of free lectures that are offered on campus. There is always something to learn about, which I’ll miss when I no longer have the opportunity to do so. One such free lecture that I attended was a lecture from the Tierra Tinta conference which is a Modern Languages conference put on each year by Tierra Tinta, a graduate student organization of the department of Modern Languages, Literatures, & Linguistics at OU. I attended the lecture of the keynote speaker Eliza Rizo, a professor from the University of Iowa State. She spoke on the theater of Ecuatorial Guinea and how it is shaped by the unique culture of that Central African country. Her lecture reminded me that there will always be something new to learn, no matter how much education you’ve had or how many years you’ve spent studying that subject, because many of my Spanish professors admitted they knew little-to-nothing about the culture and theater of Ecuatorial Guinea and how it relates to the culture of other Spanish-speaking countries around the world. Below, I’ll explain in Spanish what I took away from the lecture and how it influenced my understanding of the culture of Ecuatorial Guinea.

Yo asistí a la ponencia de la oradora principal, Eliza Rizo, una profesora en la Universidad de Iowa State. Ella habló sobre el teatro en Guinea Ecuatorial y como lo forma la identidad “atlántico” del país. Ella propuso que el idea que uno se puede clamar “atlántico” como su identidad, distinto de identidades puramente “africano” o “latino” e incluso “afrohispanico.” Ella menciona que los oficiales del país y el pueblo tienen ideas muy diferentes sobre su identidad nacional y los lenguajes que están hablados allí. Doctora Rizo usa el ejemplo del Antígona, una obra de teatro griega que ha sido cambiado para ser apropiado para la cultura de Guinea Ecutatorial. Ella menciona la influencia de la colonización que todavía tiene un impacto en el país hoy, que causa un énfasis muy fuerte en la moralidad y ideales cristianos. Ella termina su ponencia por explicando que el teatro de Guinea Ecuatorial es un teatro con su propia identidad: un teatro africano con aspectos hispanos que puede ser llamado “Atlántico”.

Pumpkin Chickpea Curry Soup (it’s vegan!!)

I love to cook. Not in the dictionary sense of the word, which is just heating food up in a pan until it’s warm, but in the more abstract sense of the word. I love the act of cooking. I love turning on some good music, throwing my hair up, and stirring and mixing and chopping and slicing in a room that smells like heaven. I love the taking my time, savoring the full sensory experience that is cooking. That said, most of my “cooking” while in college is me throwing some vegetables in the microwave, squeezing some lemon juice on them, and calling it a day. Every now and then, though, I get inspired to create, which is how the recipe below came into being. It’s super easy (like literally so easy), but it tastes like heaven and smells like a spice market–perfect for a chilly fall evening.

What You Need:

  • a can of coconut milk
  • a can of chickpeas
  • a can of pumpkin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • curry powder
  • a day-old loaf of bread
  • some garlic powder

How You Make It:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the can of coconut milk and mix with the olive oil.
  3. Add the can of pumpkin.
  4. Stir it all together, then add the drained can of chickpeas.
  5. Add at least two tablespoons of curry powder (I added a lot more, but it’s up to your tastebuds to decide), and a dash of salt and pepper.

    look how beautiful that is omg
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cover, cooking for about an hour.
  7. When the curry is almost done cooking, tear the loaf of bread into crouton-sized chunks and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  8. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle on a generous amount of garlic powder.
  9. Place the baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until the croutons are crispy and slightly brown.
  10. Use a ladle to put some of the curry into a bowl, and top it with the croutons. And you’re done!

 

I got so hungry while I was typing out this recipe… Let me know if you try it/modify it because feedback is so so appreciated!!

Excerpt from a Journal Entry

An excerpt from my journal I kept while stuyding abroad:

“Run, jump, climb, skip, dance, just move and be and feel. Don’t become susceptible to the numbness that’s so characteristic of your generation. A computer screen cannot make you happy. Mindless scrolling and clicking and watching and consuming will leave you empty, unhealthy, and so tired. Do things that engage your mind and body, do things that challenge and excite you. You have to do hard things if you want to be a better person. Run a 5K, become a vegetarian, take a painting class, converse in a foreign language, invite someone to coffee. Live fully and wholly, because you’re only 20 once.”

 

 

Reading Autobiography

Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading to me right before I was tucked into bed each night. I was blessed to have been the first-born child of a teacher who believed that a love for reading was the gateway to a love for learning, so I was read to on a regular basis until I was old enough to begin reading on my own. My favorite book when I was younger was Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, so I begged my parents to read it to me almost every night. Other favorites included The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

Once my siblings were born, my parents had less time to read aloud to me, so I began to read simple books on my own. My elementary school teachers read aloud to me for the first few years of school; my third grade teacher, Mrs. Davis, sticks out especially in my memories for her “famous” reading style. She would read in a way that made the characters and the scene come alive and allow you to forget for a moment that you were sitting on an itchy carpet square in a windowless room. A few of my favorite books from Mrs. Davis’ class were The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and the books from The Boxcar Children series. There weren’t many books I didn’t enjoy reading as a child because I would read any book I could get my hands on. The only one I can remember not enjoying was To Kill a Mockingbird, but only because the first time I tried to read it I was in the fourth grade and didn’t understand its significance or meaning.

Reading has always been extremely important to me, even forming some of my earliest memories. Ironically enough, my mom would take away the book I was reading for a day as a form of punishment because it elicited more of a change in my behavior than did spanking or grounding. I remember reading a book every other day in the sixth grade because I would sit and wait for two hours every day with my mom as my sister underwent extensive physical therapy, and reading was my only form of entertainment. Curling up with a good book is still my activity of choice when I have a free hour, and the love for reading instilled by my parents and teachers has not diminished with time.

Leaving Security, Choosing Joy

Wow. I don’t even know where to start this post, honestly.

Maybe with Proverbs 16:9. “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” How true this is. And how good this is.

Since I was 16, my plans were to graduate with a nursing degree and come out of college with a solid career that would give me good pay, good hours, and a good job security. As a nurse, I would make a lot of money and not really have to worry about the future. It was my security blanket.

So I ignored the still, small voice that reminded me that I hate the smell of hospitals. Ignored the quiver in my stomach every time someone talked about blood. Struggled and cried my way through the science classes that I knew deep down were not my passion. Put on a brave smiling face and told everyone that nursing was my passion because I was afraid to admit that I was only choosing this path out of a fear of the unknown. Submitted my application to nursing school and rejoiced over my acceptance letter because it was my ticket to a life of comfort and security. Or so I thought.

It’s funny how your decisions will eventually catch up with you.

As I was driving around the campus of the OKC Health Sciences center after meeting with my enrollment advisor, I had the moment. You know, the moment when everything catches up with you and you realize you’ve made a ginormous mistake? The moment when the tears come faster than your brain realizes what’s happening and you spend 45 minutes driving the same loop because your heart and your brain and your spirit are all saying something different? The moment when the truth shines through and you stop and wonder why you’ve been lying to yourself for the past five years? Yep, it was that moment.

I realized that the passions that the Lord had placed in my heart were not for nursing. It was my own fleshly passions for comfort, security, and a clear life path that had driven me to pursue this path. I hate blood. I hate hospitals. I hate vomit. I hate needles. I’m not good at comforting sick and hurting people. I have no desire to spend two years studying pharmacology and how to give an IV or a shot. (It honestly feels good to confess this after years and years of pretending that I liked it.) It’s crazy how a desire for pleasure and comfort can be used by the enemy to bring so many lies and so much deception until it’s hard to distinguish what is true and what is not.

But the light has finally come on. The truth has finally come out. I’ve talked with my parents and with other people whose judgement I trust who have helped me to see truth and to pursue it in my life. I’m still working on letting go of the pride that has kept me wrapped up in the identity of a nursing student for so long. I’m still working on facing the fear of an uncertain future that comes with changing a plan I’ve held onto for five years. But I know that no matter what happens, the Lord will determine my steps.

So I’m majoring in Spanish. Basically the opposite of nursing, there’s no real secure or certain path that follows graduating with a degree in Spanish. What I do know, though, is that the Lord has given me a desire to communicate with people, a desire to make them feel comfortable and safe and loved. He has given me the ability to learn languages and to use them. He has been so gracious in tenderly guiding me towards the path that will give me joy rather than security, because in the end, He, not my career or my major, is my only security. I don’t have to know what I’m doing after graduation (or even what I’m doing tomorrow) because He already knows. And his plan is infinitely more beautiful and unique and glorifying than my plan could ever be.

So I’m trusting. I’m letting go of pride. I’m letting go of my identity. I’m pursuing the passions that He’s placed inside of me because they are there for a reason. I’m letting go of fear of the future, of the fear of other people’s judgement, and of a fear of failure and instead believing that He will make my life beautiful and pleasing to Him.

Praise the Lord for freedom. Praise Him for truth. Don’t allow a desire for comfort or security to smother the truth about who you are and what you were made to do. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Live the life He made you to live, because that life is the only life that can truly satisfy.

A Year Later

Well, it’s been almost exactly a year since I’ve returned from Italy, which doesn’t seem possible. Many of the friends I made on the trip are graduating next week, so this might be the last week we’ll all be able to get together and talk about our experiences. One of my favorite parts about studying abroad at an OU program is that we are all still in the same area and can meet up frequently to talk about our experiences when it seems like no one else understands. My time in Italy sometimes feels like a distant dream but at other times feels like it just ended yesterday. I still get pangs of a feeling almost like homesickness when I hear someone speaking in Italian or have a glass of good wine with friends. I get a little sad when I see my friends posts from their time abroad and sometimes look up flights to Europe just for fun. The hardest thing for me is having to stay in Oklahoma, where Florence and Rome aren’t just a train ride away. My advice to everyone about to finish up their time abroad is to take as many videos as possible. Video your trip from your home to your favorite coffee shop. Video the street you walk down every day. Video your friends, the train, your home, anything, because they’ll be really comforting when you’re stuck in the hundred degree heat of Southern Oklahoma. It’s hard to come back, but also necessary because you won’t fully understand and be able to appreciate your time abroad until you’re back.

OU Cousins

College is a really neat time because there are people from all over the world all around you. Instead of having to travel to another place to meet people from other parts of the world, you can just walk around campus. OU does a really great job of helping the international students and the local students to get to know each other and create a space for international discussion. One of the ways OU does this is through the OU Cousins program, which pairs an international student with an American student for a semester or a year. OU Cousins hosts events throughout the year such as the OU Cousins barbecue so that students can spend time with their Cousins and learn more about their respective cultures and just spend time with them as a friend. You can request a cousin from a certain country or region of the world, but I honestly think it’s so much more fun to just let them pair you with someone from anywhere. My OU Cousin is from Saudi Arabia and she has opened my eyes to a part of the world that I have never experienced before. It’s not required that you go to the OU Cousins events to be a member of the program, but I would highly recommend going to them because your cousin might introduce you to some of her friends and vice versa, expanding both of your circles and helping you to meet more people from all over the world. This is honestly one of my favorite programs at OU, and my college experience wouldn’t be what it is without it!

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The Spanish Club

One of my favorite things about the university experience is that there’s a place for everyone. No matter what your studying or what groups you identify with, you’re bound to find a place where you belong. I love the Spanish club at OU because it brings together people who would otherwise never come into contact with each other. The members of the Spanish club share a love for the Spanish language and all of the cultures that are associated with it, which really allows us to quickly find a common ground and s place to belong. Almost all of the members of the Spanish club are either majoring or minoring in Spanish and are passionate about the language. It’s really fun to watch people discuss the language and have a time outside of the classroom to share their feelings and thoughts and plans for the future concerning Spanish. The Spanish club offers meetings once a month (which usually include snacks) that are a really chill time to meet other students at OU who share the same interests as you! There are usually once-a-semester events, such as the Dia de Los Muertos event last semester, that are open to the community. If you’re looking for a place where you can connect with other people who love the Spanish language, definitely check out the Spanish club!