Overall this semester has been pretty great. There have been ups and downs, smiles and lots of tears, but now that this first semester is almost done I know that even though I struggled a bit, I am stronger for it. I have better study habits. I make sure to put school work first, but to give time for fun with friends. My professors this semester taught me so much and I actually enjoyed going to my classes for the most part. I have learned so much this semester, but I am definitely ready to have a month to relax a little.
On the social side of my life, I definitely feel like I am finally starting to come out of my shell. I interact with so many amazing people throughout week; from the GEF lunch bunch to studying in the Lead and Volunteer office, my friends inspire me to be the best I can be. I cannot wait to see what next semester will bring. I hope to find a better balance between school and friends; I feel like I spent most of my time in my room or the library studying, which is great, but I also missed out on so many opportunities to try new things and get to know people on another level. At the end of my four years, I do not want my diploma to be the main indication of my time at OU. I want to make memories that I can look back on with people that will hopefully stay in my life for many years to come.
I recently watched the TED talk by Hugh Evans from February 2016 entitled “What Does It Mean to be a Citizen of the World”. In this video Evans discusses the movement he created that mobilizes “global citizens” which he defines as “people who self-identify first and foremost not as members of a state, nation or tribe but as members of the human race”. He discussed how we should no longer only depend on politicians to try to enact and maintain global change, but rather come together as global citizens to make the change we wish to see, especially with how connected people all over the world are nowadays through the internet and social media. The problems that he specifically mentioned fixing are climate change, poverty, and gender inequality. His argument being that they need to be taken care of on a global scale rather than only being slightly addressed by a few countries. I found his talk very inspiring and I want to do more to be a part of this movement. I now realize that I do not necessarily have to accomplish some huge task on my own. I can do little things with the help of others to better this world we all live in. Our worth as human beings should not be determined or limited based on what circumstances we were born into. I know it may sound cliché, but I truly believe that every person on Earth deserves the opportunity to be the best they can be.
Through different classes this semester, I have been introduced to the wonderful world of TED talks. One in particular that I actually watched earlier this semester that stood out to me was Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazols talk from May 2015 entitled “This is What LGBT Life is Like Around the World”. In this video they talk about their journey documenting the lives of people they call the “Supergays” from countries outside the West who, according to Chang, “would be the LGBT individuals who were doing something extraordinary in the world. They would be courageous, resilient, and most of all, proud of who they were. They would be the kind of person that I aspire to be.” They wanted to prove that there were not only stories of tragedy from LGBT people outside the West, but also stories of hope. This video showed me the importance of accepting who you are with pride no matter what others in society may say. I also learned that it is vital for you to be supportive of those who may still be coming into terms with who they are as a person. Just because you experienced an aspect of your life a certain way does not mean others going through something similar will experience it the same as you did. In my opinion, love is the one thing that should never have any boundaries. No gender norms, borders, racial differences, etc. should keep anyone from being with the person they truly love.
On October 25, 2016 I had the privilege of attending the President’s Associates Dinner with speaker Dr. Joshua Landis. This was actually the second time that I was able to hear Dr. Landis speak about ISIS, Syria, and the crisis in the Middle East, the first being in my Understanding the Global Community: Globalization, Development, and Difference class. Even though Dr. Landis covered the same topics at the dinner and in class, without the time limit he was able to go more in-depth and it gave me a greater understanding of the subject matter. Dr. Landis compared the current situation in the Middle East (specifically Syria) to the “Great Sorting Out” that occurred in central Europe during and after World War II. He discussed the ethnic cleansing that resulted from Germany’s domination and spread over Europe and how the Nation-States that came from it were a result of the condensing of similar groups of people. I could try to explain more, but I would not be doing Dr. Landis justice. Before I heard his presentation, I had a vague idea of how involved the United States was in the Middle East and the cause of some of the crises there, but thanks to Dr. Landis I now feel more educated on the subject. I also now feel an even greater need to advocate for the refugees fleeing Syria. They are losing their homes and lives in a conflict that most have no interest or part in. I do not necessarily think it is a good idea for the United States to get involved militarily, but I do feel like there is a lot more that we could do to help refugees relocate to safer conditions.
This semester I joined the Foreign Film Club created by GEF Hennessey Chism as a way to not only fulfill my international club requirement, but also as a way to expose myself to films from other countries that I may not have heard about otherwise. Before the first meeting I had already seen two other foreign films this semester (the Italian film Battle of Algiers and the Brazilian film City of God) through my Intro to Film and Media Studies class, so I was no stranger to films with subtitles. At the first meeting we watched the Brazilian film The Year My Parents Went on Vacation. It was a very interesting movie about a boy named Mauro in 1970s Brazil that goes to live with his grandfather when his parents are forced to hide from the strict Brazilian government. Sadly, Mauro’s grandfather dies as they are hurrying to drop Mauro off at his house, but they are in such a rush that Mauro does not realize what happened to his grandfather until after his parents are long gone. The movie was beautiful and I highly recommend watching it on your own. Foreign Film Club members consist mainly of other Global Engagement Fellows right now, but we hope to expand in the future. This club is a great way to connect with other people that share my love of movies as well as learn about styles of films outside of the United States.
When I first arrived at the OU Study Abroad fair at the beginning of the semester, I was honestly a little overwhelmed. At that point, I really had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. I was still trying to get used to life away from home, and did not even want to think about going to another country. After stopping at a few booths, I became excited about traveling abroad again. I picked up some booklets about film internships in Australia, England, and Ireland. I stopped by the OU in Arezzo booth and got some great information along with some cool pens and a cup. Finally, I picked up some information papers on summer programs from the College of Arts and Sciences in Clermont-Ferrand, France and Ireland (as well as some more cool free stuff). Visiting these booths definitely helped me narrow down my options for studying abroad. I am pretty sure that I want to study in Arezzo and in France, but I am still not a 100% sure. Because I have traveled so little in my life so far, there are so many places that I want to go and I am known for being indecisive. If you have the opportunity to visit a study abroad fair or even just any information events, I highly recommend doing so. It may seem overwhelming at the time, but you can gain so much information and answer so many questions you did even realize that you had.
This really should have been my first post (oops), so let’s pretend it was and go from there. My name is Brynna Maureen Arens and I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I graduated as valedictorian of a class of around 175 (which is actually a high number for my district). I am currently a freshman majoring in film and media studies at the University of Oklahoma and I hope to be a movie director in the future. Even though I spend most of my time in Norman, I still consider OKC home. I live there with my mom, Sydney, my dad, Mark, my sister, Allyssa, my ferret, Alice, and my dog, Katniss. I love movies, especially those of the Marvel and Harry Potter variety. I watch way more TV shows than I should. I also enjoy reading, but do not have much time to do so anymore and that makes me a little sad. Translation: I am a super nerd and proud of it.
Here are some fun/random facts about me:
- I hate driving and have had my learners permit for over three years because of the anxiety it gives me.
- I have about 75-80% of the movie Elf memorized word for word.
- I love organizing things and have an unhealthy Pinterest obsession
- I drink at least 1-2 cups of coffee everyday
- I have grown up always having at least one pet dog and ferret
- I hate mushrooms.
- Worms kind of creep me out.
- For some reason I really like 80s music even though I do not listen to it often.
Update on my digital storytelling project: I think it is coming together nicely, especially considering how technologically challenged I can be sometimes. I was able to create an effect that I really wanted, and I am really happy about that. It is not a super exciting effect, but I am proud that I pushed through and got it done (even though it took me an hour). However, I had a little bit of a scare right after I finished that section. Either my laptop or the video editing website had a problem and did not show my progress for a good five minutes. I was about to curl in a ball and cry when whatever went wrong fixed itself and everything was back to as it should be (thank goodness!). The sessions with Rachel Jackson have been extremely helpful and without them I know I would be lost. This is the first time that I have ever used video editing software (which is surprising considering I am a film and media studies major), and I am immensely enjoying the opportunity to learn a new skill. Putting together a video like this may seem simple, but way more goes into it than you may think. Even though the video itself is only 1 ½ to 2 minutes, it takes hours to make sure the photos, music, videos and effects line up with the voice track. I definitely have a newfound respect for movie and TV show editors, they have to edit 1-2 HOURS of content.
In my class, Becoming Globally Engaged, I have an assignment that requires me to create a digital story about an international experience or any other event that inspired me to apply for the Global Engagement Fellowship program. Since I have never left the United States, I am naturally writing about why I decided to apply for Global Engagement. It took me a while to get the transcript of my story on paper, because I was not a hundred percent sure how I wanted to tell it. However, after showing my advisor Jaci Gandenberger my draft at my mid-semester meeting, I felt better about the direction I was going. I feel like my story is more broad than other digital stories that I have seen, and that worried me at first, but after my recording session with Rachel Jackson at the OU writing center I definitely feel like I made the right decision and am headed in the right direction. I still have a lot to do to get my digital story finalized, but I know I can get it done. The video making tutorials in class have been extremely helpful, especially for someone as technologically challenged as myself. Without them I know I would be so stressed and confused right now. I do not want to go into too many details of my story right now, because I do not want to give anything away before I post the finished product. There is not some huge surprise twist ending or anything (my life is not THAT dramatic), but the story makes more sense if it is heard all at once.
My dream career is to be a fairly successful movie director. With that career, I want to do so much more than just make movies (even though movies are super cool). I want to create things that have a positive effect on people’s lives. I want to inspire others to do what they love no matter their circumstances. I want to give people that might not normally have the opportunity a chance to share their talents and stories. My hope is that my experiences through Global Engagement will give me new stories of my own to tell along with those from people I meet. I want to put part of who I am into every movie I make. Even if that part only connects and resonates with one person, I will be happy knowing that I have had an impact on that person’s life.
For me, working in the movie industry is not about seeking fame or fortune or looking for an “easy” job. I know it will not be easy, especially as a female. Most studios seem to choose the ‘Steven Spielberg’ over the ‘Patty Jenkins’ (to save you the trouble of googling her name, she is the director of the Wonder Woman movie set to premiere in 2017, which is super cool). That makes me want to work even harder to accomplish my dreams. Through my Global Engagement experiences, I hope to gain the courage I need to let my voice be heard and push through any challenges that I may come across in my career path. Ultimately, I want to help pave the way for young girls to follow their dreams regardless of what social norms might say they should be.