Wakanda Forever

There is no doubt that Black Panther has had a profound impact around the world, some may argue even more so than Wonder Woman. Black Panther is the 3rd highest grossing film of all time in the US, beating Titanic. It features strong male and female characters of color and embraces aspects of various African tribes. The Dora Milaje of Wakanda resemble the Maasi people of Kenya and Tanzania. The Basotho People of Lesotho in South Africa are represented by the Wakandan border tribe in the film. Even though Wakanda is a fictional country, by drawing on real African traditions, it gives a new perspective not often shown in Hollywood films. Too often stories like this are not told, or if they are, they are white-washed beyond recognition. Black Panther has given so many people the opportunity to see themselves on screen, and the success it has had in the box office proves that film-goers want to see these stories. It is also the first US film in 35 years to be shown in Saudi Arabia, breaking a ban on US films in the country. Films can have such a huge impact on how we see ourselves and the world, and I am so happy that new stories are finally being told. It’s refreshing to me that Hollywood is finally trying to break out of its cycle and give us new and interesting stories that don’t further marginalize people.

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Global Engagement Day: part 2

The second session I went to for Global Engagement Day was Student Stories from Abroad. This session was SO helpful and made me even more excited to start my own journey next spring. The GEF’s on the panel went to primarily European countries, which was helpful since that’s where I want to study. They studied in Estonia, Spain, and Germany just to name a few. They shared tips on what types of currency to bring (cash vs. credit/debit card), what to pack, how to find affordable phone service, apps for navigation and so many other tips. Hearing their stories made my upcoming journey feel more real to me. Up until now, studying abroad was something for Future Brynna to think about, but now that time has finally come. I am beyond excited, but the realness of it also make me worry (thanks anxiety!). Thankfully I know I have a support system of other GEF’s that have already gone abroad that can help me through it 🙂

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Global Engagement Day: part 1

Global Engagement Day happens every spring and is a day filled with sessions where Global Engagement Fellows share their study abroad experiences with other GEF’s and any other OU students that are interested in studying abroad. Luckily I was able to attend two sessions this year. The first was Women, LGBTQ+ persons, and Minorities abroad. This session was so informative and to hear stories from other GEF’s about how they pushed through struggles with their identity and still had a meaningful experience was amazing. Even though I am planning to study abroad in very westernized countries, I am still nervous about navigating safely as a woman in new places. I also worry about managing my anxiety without my parents being 30 minutes away. But knowing that other people have gone through similar circumstances and made it through makes me feel better. I just have to learn to not put so much pressure on myself or on the study abroad experience. Just like back home I will have good days and I will have bad days, but that does not mean that I can’t still have an amazing  time.

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Plans to go abroad

After two years of being a Global Engagement fellow, I am finally preparing to take my trip abroad next spring! I currently have three applications open for Spring 2019 in Hertfordshire, England; Reading, England; and Aberdeen, Scotland. My top choice is Hertfordshire because it works the best class-wise with my major, it’s a smaller town so it won’t be too overwhelming, and the dates of the program work best with my schedule. But I still want to have my options open in case something falls through. Directly after my semester in the UK, I plan on doing OU’s Journey Program in Italy for the month of June. I am nervous about being away from home for so long considering the furthest I have traveled outside of Oklahoma is Las Vegas, Nevada, but I am also so excited for the new experiences I am going to have. I can’t wait to explore England, Scotland, and Ireland (and visit the small town of Brynna in Wales!) along with surrounding countries like France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and as many others as I can fit into my schedule!

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OU Cousins

After not finding an international group last semester, I knew I wanted to try to be a part of OU Cousins this semester. Before the semester even started, I tried to sign up so I would be on top of things for once but the only information I saw on the website was for the fall semester. I checked again and again. Still nothing on the spring semester. I then of course got busy with beginning of semester craziness and by the time I checked again a couple weeks later, registration had closed. 🙁 Thankfully I was still able to attend the OU Cousins BBQ at the end of the semester with my roommate Jessica. Even though I grew up in Oklahoma, the night was filled with new experiences for me too. I had never been on a ranch before or pet a horse. And I had certainly never line danced. Even though I wasn’t there with an OU Cousin of my own, it was still so much fun to be there with students from so many other countries as we all struggled to learn the dance moves. Even though I will be abroad next semester and won’t be able to attend the BBQ, I definitely want to sign up to be a cousin in the fall.

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Wonder Woman

When Wonder Woman came to theaters this summer, I was so excited. There was finally a superhero movie about a female hero that was also directed by a female. It was a beautiful film and it had a profound affect worldwide. Throughout social media many women talked about the impact it had on themselves, their children, their friends, etc. Many people around the world felt empowered that they finally had such a profound representation of female strength on the big screen after about a decade of a male dominated genre. Wonder Woman broke numerous records. It is now the highest grossing superhero origin movie ever made and it is the best performing film in the DC comics Extended Universe. Patty Jenkins made a film that emphasized both the strength and heart of Diana Prince and the Amazonian warriors that raised her. This film was different than other films in the genre in so many ways, and I feel like it has started a chain reaction of positive representation both in front of and behind the camera. Hollywood still has a long way to go, but Wonder Woman is a fantastic place to start.

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The F word

Some people hear the word feminism and think it’s a bad thing. They assume that feminists are all about hating men and not wearing bras. As a feminist myself, I can say that this is usually not the case. Feminism is honestly a complex belief that can vary from person to person. I recently watched a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “We Should All Be Feminists” and thought she had some really good points that relate to how I see feminism. One important point she makes is that “the problem with gender, is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are” and I believe that there is a lot of truth in her statement. From a young age boys and girls are expected to act a certain way. If a girl is assertive, she is bossy, but if a boy is assertive, he just knows what he wants. We live in a society built on the assumption that one gender must be inherently stronger than the other and that gender functions on a strict binary system. If you happen to fall even slightly outside of that system, you are often “othered”.  Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Don’t be ashamed to be a feminist.

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Plan A, B, and C

Trying to stay involved this semester has been way harder than I thought it would be. So many events happen while I’m either in class or at work and it’s hard to find the energy to squeeze anything else in. I finally found time to attend an event during International Education Week in November. It was a talk by Dr. Peter Guardino, a professor from Indiana University, titled, “Between Savage Tribes: Frontier Warfare, Vigilantism and Atrocities Against Mexican Civilians During the Mexican-American War”. I have recently decided to try and learn as much about history as I can outside of the typical white-washed, sugar-coated versions I primarily learned in my public education and thought that this would be a good way to do so. I showed up to the Student Union early, which is where multiple fliers said it would be held, prepared to learn but 4:30 came around and only a few other students were there, but no one was there to speak. I waited, and waited for 20-30 minutes obsessively checking and re-checking facebook, twitter, anything to make sure I was in the right place. Still nothing about the event being moved, cancelled, or rescheduled. I had other commitments that evening, so I eventually left. I tried to find a similar event to go to around campus and saw the opening event for a new art exhibit at the Jacobson House Museum near campus called “Genocide, Sovereignty, Democracy” but the event was the day before! I tried to go to the museum to look at the exhibit myself, but it was primarily open during hours I had work or class (a recurring theme this semester). So I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to educate myself through my new favorite thing, TED talks. I scoured the site looking for similar talks to Dr. Guardino’s topic, but couldn’t find anything. I did however find a very informative talk by Aaron Huey about “America’s native prisoners of war”. He discussed multiple historic events throughout the US and the breaking of treaties with indigenous tribes that led to massacres of native tribes and the unjust claiming of their lands. This continuous unjust treatment led to the problems on reservations today.

I learned a lot from this overall experience. If something doesn’t work out, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, and you have to be willing to go further to learn something new.

Here is the link to the talk, please watch it for yourself:

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GEF Film Night

As a film major, I really enjoyed being in the foreign film club last year. I got to experience and appreciate cinema from different countries and cultures. Even though I primarily relied on subtitles to understand what was happening, it was cool to see similarities and differences between foreign cinema and American cinema especially when looking at cinema as an artistic medium and comparing it to other art from foreign countries. (The club didn’t go nearly this in-depth when we discussed the films, it’s just something I find interesting as a film major). Sadly, the club was not able to meet any this semester. Thankfully, there was a GEF movie night last week that helped fill the void in my heart. (I’m slightly exaggerating, but it was really fun). I was able to see a few GEFs and got to enjoy the film Return to Cuba, which showed the life of a woman who had moved to Italy in the 1990s, but came back to build a house where her childhood home once stood. I got to see aspects of life in Cuba that aren’t often portrayed in American media. It was interesting to see the opinions of those who had left Cuba for western countries and how their lives there compared to their lives in Cuba.

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Enjoying the small things

This semester has been full of many up, downs, and uncertainties. I started an on campus job so that I wouldn’t have to take out any loans this semester for living expenses and I really enjoy it, but now I have less time (and energy) than I did last year to get involved on campus. On top of juggling school and work, I have also been narrowing down my choices of where to study abroad for a semester (spring 2019) and during the summer (probably 2019 as well). I decided to study in England at OU’s sister college The University of Hertfordshire for my semester, but am still somewhat undecided for the summer. This brings me to the point of this post, which is the Taste of the Study Centers event in the Biz that I decided to go to last minute on my little lunch break between classes on Wednesdays. They had free pizza, coffee, acai, and Mexican Coca-Cola and had information on various programs at OU’s three study centers in Arezzo, Italy; Puebla, Mexico; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After sampling some of the free food (because college students rarely refuse free food) and looking at some of the Arezzo programs I am now leaning towards doing the Journey to Italy program for my summer abroad program. It seems like a good way to get a thorough experience in a short amount of time. This event helped me realize how beneficial it can be to take a break on a busy day and try something new.

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