For my first international event, I went to a lecture entitled “Bagaisu Men Don’t Cry” with Dr. Pamela Khanakwa. For the majority of the lecture, Dr. Khanakwa talked the Imbalu ceremony, which is a public right of passage in Bagisu tradition. Throughout the past few hundred years, the role of the Imbalu ceremony has changed in the Bagisu culture, thus indicating a shift in the greater understanding of masculinity. Ever since the origin of this tradition, it has been greatly celebrated. Anywhere between the ages of 16 and 26, a boy could choose to go through the ceremony. This process happens publicly and is generally a large celebration. Within the past one hundred years, however, Bagisu elites have challenged the cultural norms. They argued that the ritual was “irrelevant to the needs that they had established” and that the tradition aimed to “tribalize people deviating from the minority culture groups within Uganda.” Bagisu society met these concerns with several solutions. The first solution was to introduce the practice of medicated surgery that would occur in private. Many argued that allowing men to have anesthesia during the procedure would defeat the purpose of the ceremony. Another solution was to forbid women and children from watching the public surgery. These solutions were met with opposition.
This was a topic that I had no previous knowledge on. I was not even sure exactly what the topic would be when I arrived at the lecture. I was pleasantly surprised and actually gained a lot of new knowledge. Throughout my time in grade school, lots of what I learned about Africa was from a very Eurocentric perspective. This lecture made me realize that I have never had the opportunity to learn about tribal customs or norms. Everything that I know about Africa is about one of the following topics: colonialism, decolonialism, The Scramble for Africa, or the slave trade. This is very unfortunate. I would like to expand my knowledge about Africa after this lecture. It was interesting to have the opportunity to hear someone from Uganda speak about the issues that face her community.
I attended the “Pastries in Puebla” event on Thursday, September 21st. At the event Armando, the Director of OU in Puebla was there. He talked about his favorite parts of OUP and how many students have great experiences there. It was nice to talk to him after first meeting him while studying in Puebla this past summer. He is a great asset to the OUP program. Armando and I also talked about opportunities to study abroad in Puebla for a full semester. If I did so, I would be required to take geology classes with the OU faculty that goes along. This seems unnecessary and would not count for any of my required credits for my major. Anyways, the event took place in Farzaneh and was lovely. There were pastries and other people interested in traveling to Puebla. I also got to share about my experience in Puebla with some other students who were interested.
This semester, I was part of the International Business Student Association. This group is comprised mostly of people with my same major, International Business. This group has meetings and events to inform its members about international happenings and opportunities, mostly geared towards business. Through this organization, I have been able to talk to fellow IB students and hear about their internships abroad. While I might not have the opportunity to intern abroad during my undergrad experience, it is fascinating to hear others talk about this experience. International internships are a big focus in IBSA. I am looking into possible internship opportunities while I do my semester abroad, thanks to this organization.
In Mexico City this past summer, I got to visit the Museum of Memory and Tolerance. This museum was absolutely fascinating and one of my favorite experiences from Puebla. One of the temporary exhibits, however, has stuck with me in the past few months. The exhibit was about Mexican immigrants to the United States. Clearly, this is a very relevant topic at the moment. The exhibit showed instances of violence against immigrants in the United States, and urged the necessity and impact of compassion. With new administration, the past few months have been difficult for immigrants. This exhibit is in the back of my mind at all times when I see divisive rhetoric or hateful words. This exhibit has stuck with me for the months since I returned from Puebla, and it probably will for the rest of my life. I wish that all of America had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Memory and Tolerance and see this exhibit. It was truly eye-opening and impactful.
I recently watched a movie, in Spanish, called “La Lengua de las Mariposas,” or The Language of the Butterflies. I really enjoyed this movie, so I thought that I would take a moment and reflect on it. The movie focuses on the life of a young boy, Moncho. The boy is living in a particularly challenging time – the Spanish Civil War has just begun. The movie is a coming of age film that focuses on the boy “finding himself” in a difficult time. Moncho has a teacher in school who he builds a relationship with. The teacher has untraditional views and Moncho can pick up on that. The boy is in a challenging place and is wondering about the future of his family and country. The boy is developing his ideas, beliefs, and thoughts as the movie continues. This movie made me think about how the 2016 election affected children. I actually wrote a paper for my Spanish class about this topic.
For my first international event, I went to a pasta making class taught by Luccio, OUA’s student service coordinator. Pasta was surprisingly easy to make and I was amazed by how simple the recipe was. Even the ravioli wasn’t too difficult! This past weekend, I went home and made pasta for my mom. This time it was much more difficult than how I had remember ed it in class. Although my pasta pieces were rather misshapen, my mom made a great sauce to go with them. It was a great meal, overall. I enjoyed learning something at OU that I was able to bring back to my home. I will definitely be attending the pasta making class again next year, if I am able!
Tomorrow is Tuesday, and also the start of the 3rd week of Sophomore year. The past two weeks have been a wild ride, let me tell you. My new classes, new job, and new internship have all presented unique challenges. Nonetheless, I feel like I have managed really well and I am so excited for the rest of the upcoming year.
Throughout the past few weeks, I have made an effort to be intentional. “Intentional” is often flung around in meaningful conversation or blog posts and is a word that I ponder often. What does it mean to be intentional? And why is it so important?
Although I am not sure exactly what everyone else means when they use the word “intentional,” I have come up with my own definition.
Being intentional – living in the moment. considering others thoughts / needs when making decisions for yourself. offering unsolicited support to others. paying attention to what is important in the moment. not getting distracted by future worries. spending time in the most productive and thoughtful manner. operating based on general thoughtfulness.
I hope to be intentional with my thoughts and actions in the upcoming months. This semester has been great and I am so thrilled to see what great things are to come.
I am still deciding what exactly I want this blog to be. I want it to be a place where I can document my experiences for myself and whoever else casually stumbles upon it. While I still struggle to figure this out, here is a casual update on my life and what I am thinking about nowadays.
The summer after my freshman year is coming to a close. The past three months has been filled with lots of self-reflection and general thought.
My freshman year was filled with many feelings and experiences that were previously foreign. There were college classes, new friends from across the country, date parties, sorority gatherings, and many clubs to apply for. There was love, loss, and an overwhelming sense of helplessness. All of these experiences and feelings have contributed to a major feeling of growth. I feel that my general mentality, passions, and goals have shifted from where they stood last year. I feel that I have since become more selfless, compassionate, worldly, and empathetic. These changes that I have seen within myself have made me realize just how much I have left to grow and mature. I am constantly trying to improve myself and that effort will never end.
Throughout my first year of college, I have learned to embrace vulnerability and ask for help. I have found mentors that encourage me to dare greatly, learn from failure, and work towards overcoming obstacles. I have found friends that put great effort into uplifting me in every situation. I have developed passions in areas that I have never considered to be relevant. I have been put in tough situations that were alleviated with dedication and perseverance. I have learned that life is the most precious thing and that it is absolutely worth fighting for. I have met many who did not grow up with the same support or other privileges that I had. I have learned to embrace new perspectives and see things from varying viewpoints. I have seen the consequences of sheltering oneself from uncomfortable and unfamiliar experiences. I have seen the incredible success of pure dedication and intention. I have learned how to love myself – faults and quirks included.
I have never once felt such a profound sense of self. For the first time in my entire life, I feel that I know exactly who and what I want to be.
After returning from Mexico, it was time to start the next chapter in my life. 10 days after returning to the USA, I moved in to my sorority house to prepare for recruitment. I was / am so excited to have the opportunity to live in the house with all of my great pals!
After we moved in, we immediately started preparation for recruitment. This process was rather overwhelming, to be honest. We learned door songs, watched talented sisters practice their speaking / special singing parts, and decorated various rooms in our house. Of course, we also had lots of fun too: snow cones on our big lawn, a carnival-themed dinner, late night Sonic runs. This all took place over the course of the week. Tomorrow, recruitment starts and I am both nervous and excited. It should be interesting, that’s for sure!
As I said, recruitment starts tomorrow. Wish us luck and sanity, please!
Today we are heading back to the United States. I have had such an amazing time here in Mexico. I am absolutely amazed with the culture, cuisine, and beauty of this country. Here is a list of some things that I wanted to reflect on as I head home to the United States:
First of all, I highly encourage going on a study abroad trip without any of your friends. I had one acquaintance, Audrey, who I knew was also coming on this trip. We decided to share an apartment and it was such a great opportunity for us to get closer and make close friends with the others in our group.
Mexico has these little stands that they put by your table in restaurants to hold your purse. America needs those.
Always keep a blog while traveling. I totally wish that I had kept up with mine in Italy. Blogging helped me reflect and remember each day that I was abroad.
Don’t be afraid to sound silly when speaking in the language that you are learning. You will improve so quickly when you are trying to speak with people everyday.
True Mexican food is entirely different than what we are used to in the United States. I thought I knew this coming in to the trip, but there is still so many culinary differences that I was unaware of.
There are lots of things that should be on this list that I am forgetting…..
Woo! This was a trip of a lifetime and I am so excited that I got to share and remember it via this blog.
Lastly, check out the Talavera that I painted in Puebla! I think it turned out pretty well!