On Thursday, April 13 I attended a Panel Discussion on perspectives of socialism and communism. The Panelists were Dr. Murray Bessette, who is the Director of Academic Programs for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; Dr. Melissa Stockdale, who is a Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma; and L. Eric Sundby who is the President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Holocaust Remembrance and Restitution Foundation as well as a personal friend. This event was hosted by the College of International Studies, Econ Club, and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
The panelists discussed the views of millennials about socialism and communism and were very disturbed by the large proportion of millennials that say they support socialism and communism without being able to identify socialist and communist leaders and governments of the past or even being able to clearly define socialism.
That turned into a heated argument because two of the panelists disagreed about the definition of socialism. Overall, the event was very informative, thought provoking, and a valuable expression of free speech on the part of the panelist and audience members.
On March 18, 2017 the OU Asian American Student Life organization hosted an event on the South Oval cleverly called a Celebr(asian). The event was open and free for all. It was a beautiful day outside, and they were playing lively music that contributed to the fun atmosphere At the event, the organization passed out T-shirts. They also provided information on their club and sold Boba to support their organization. I love Bubble Tea so I really enjoyed that. It was a very fun, upbeat event to stop by and I hope the organization continues to host events like that in the future.
On March 28, 2017 a Fulbright information session was held in Cate 1, room 101. I attended this information session in order to refresh myself with information on applying to the Fulbright. In addition to talking about the different types of Fulbright awards available, the information session also had two Fulbright Scholars in attendance. I thought there presence was very helpful as they were able to talk about there application processes and there projects. I really appreciated their insight. I already knew a lot of the information that was presented during the meeting, but thought it was helpful to refresh myself on the timeline for applications.
For the Spring 2017 Semester, World Literature Today Book Club has continued to be my international organization. We read a book a month that we select from modern international literature and have a meeting to discuss it. Our February Book selection was A Gentleman from Moscow by Amor Towles. For March our book selection was Just Another Jihadi Jane by Tabish Khair. Lastly, for April our book selection was the Ornatrix by Kate Howard.
My favorite book of these three was A Gentleman from Moscow. It is one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years. It is a work of fiction that describes the life of a count on house arrest in a hotel in Moscow during the Communist Revolution. It is an interesting peak into the Communist Revolution, but it centers mainly on the Metropol hotel and how the count manages to build a life within it’s walls.
I highly recommend World Literature Today Book Club to any Global Engagement Fellows looking for an international organization and look forward to our recruiting efforts in the Fall.
In my last blog post I talked about what NISO is and how we prepared for it January 11th. The next day, January 12th, was the day of the orientation. I woke up early in order to get to the orientation with time to set up. We met in Farzaneh hall and transported a cart full of things to Dale, where the event took place. We assembled tables, organized signs with different group names, and checked in students, directing them to booths at the top of the stairs.
After everyone was checked in, the orientation began in one of the large classrooms while we sat with the students in our groups. They had speakers from Study Abroad, the College of International Studies, and Norman. They even had some Native American dancers preform to share some of the native culture that we have in Oklahoma. After the presentations, there was a dinner with pizza where we got to know more about our group. My group was from all over the world.
The orientation was a very long day but overall it was a good experience. I highly recommend it to any Global Engagement Fellows who are looking for a way to meet international students and become engaged with the global community on the University of Oklahoma’s campus.
For the Spring 2017 Semester, I volunteered to be a Peer Mentor for the New International Student Orientation (NISO). NISO is a program that orients the international students that come to attend OU. It presents about Oklahoma, the United States, and OU and informs students of how to stay safe, what to expect, and opportunities they can participate in while here. Importantly, the orientation also serves as a way for international students to find a community within OU. One way they do that is through the Peer Mentorship Program. In this blog post I will discuss the training day that I went through to be a Peer Mentor. In the next blog post I will discuss the orientation itself.
The NISO Peer Mentor orientation occurred on January 11, 2017. It was for four hours on that Wednesday morning. Basically we discussed what our responsibilities would be the next day at the orientation and later in the semester. We also stuffed packets with brochures that would later be passed out to the students We walked to Dale Hall where the orientation would occur and discussed where everything would be. We were also assigned jobs at the orientation. My job was going to be passing out packets and lanyards as students went up the stairs. It was an easy day in preperation for the long day that was to follow, but it was a good chance to meet my fellow peer mentors.
Today, I watched the TED Talk An Independent Diplomat by Carne Ross. It was really good, so I suggest you watch it (link below) before you continue reading.
First of all, Carne Ross seems like a really cool person. He’s lived a cool life and I feel like I could listen to him tell stories from it all day. Now that that’s been established, I’ll talk about the TED Talk. Ross spoke about his experience as a diplomat and the circumstances that led up to his creation of Independent Diplomats. It was basically his view that the war in Iraq was started for reasons other than that were claimed and his disillusionment with the process of diplomacy that caused him to abandon his position as a British Diplomat and redefine his life. He became an independent ambassador to Kosovo and created Independent Diplomats, a group of people that serve as diplomats to disenfranchised groups/countries. His hope is that his group will be able to bring “voiceless” people to the UN to discuss their situations with policy makers. He states two observations about the world: It is fractioning, and the states hold less power than ever before.
I think what Ross is doing is necessary. The UN was created as a way for countries to talk about their problems. If most of the conflicts are intrastate and both sides of the conflict are not in attendance to communicate about the problem, then the UN isn’t really doing it’s job. By bringing in rebel groups to discuss their desires and issues, the UN is serving it’s purpose of facilitating discussion to prevent conflict.
My time as a Global Engagement Fellow has been wonderful, but not perfect. As a Junior Pre-medical student, my life is about to get crazy. I’m taking the MCAT in January, applying for Fulbright and doing my committee interviews this spring, applying to medical school and studying abroad in the summer, and hopefully going on interviews in the Fall. With all of this, I won’t be able to study abroad for a semester like I originally had hoped. In addition, I’m cramming most of the most difficult classes in my degree program into the last two years. With this in mind, I came up with a list of advice for future Global Engagement Fellows, or anyone studying abroad, who is majoring in science or is hoping to go to medical school. Enjoy!
- Plan Your Entire College Schedule- This is super important. Sit down with an excel spreadsheet before you even come to OU, look at your degree checksheets (ou.edu/checksheets) and plan out every class that you are ever going to take. Of course you can just write “Spanish Elective” or “Upper Division Humanity”, but keeping track of what classes you are going to take when is necessary. Plan out your study abroad. Which summer are you going to go? Which Semester? What classes will you need to take/can you get out of the way during that time? Thinking about this and knowing this will let you know which study abroad programs might work best for you. All plans can and probably will change 10 times in your years at OU, but that’s okay. It’s just important to be thinking all the way through to the finish line instead of just a few semesters ahead.
- Don’t Take an Easy First Semester- This piece of advice is directly contradictory to what most of the academic advisors will tell you, so here’s my take on it. If you’re a person who knows you’re going to have difficulty adjusting to college, by all means take an easy first semester. This could be that you didn’t have the best study habits in highschool, you expect to have a lot of problems with homesickness, or anything else. If that’s you, then the most important thing is getting adjusted. If you aren’t that worried about needing time to adjust, don’t waste a semester on easy classes. If you’re a premed student, I would recommend starting out with Zoology and General Chemistry right away. If you are a science major, start in on those major requirements right away. Trust me, future you will be very happy.
- Save your General Education Classes– This goes along with my last bit of advice. Instead of taking an easy first year and getting all of your gen eds out of the way like most advisors recommend, space them out all the way through your college career. Take a few harder classes and a few easier classes each semester. As a senior you will be so happy that you’ve already taken Quantitative Analysis and that in the midst of your thesis, all you have to worry about is Understanding Music. This also is important as a Global Engagement Fellow Specifically. If you’re pre-med, most medical schools do not accept study abroad credits for medical school requirements. This means that you won’t be able to take your science classes abroad and instead will be taking gen eds and minor classes. Save your gen eds and get your science classes out of the way so you don’t end up taking a semester of useless credits. The exception to this rule is OU programs abroad. If your science class is with an OU professor at an OU study abroad campus then it will count for medical school. I highly recommend looking into these programs.
- Study Abroad as Early as Possible- I highly recommend studying abroad the summer between your Freshman and Sophomore year. This will likely be the most convenient time to study abroad for the summer. In the future you will want to be spending your summer doing internships, research, and/or taking classes and it will be much harder to fit in. Plus studying abroad so early will put you ahead of many other OU students and putting that on your resume will increase the amount of opportunities you have. For the semester, get it done as early as possible. If you’re a pre-med student, it’s basically impossible to study abroad for a semester after the fall of your junior year. So that leaves Fall and Spring of your Sophomore year and Fall of your Junior Year as your options. If at all possible, do it as a Sophomore. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re more involved on campus and don’t have to give up jobs/leadership positions to go abroad.
- Get Relevant Experience Abroad– If you do research, look into a program that will allow you to do research abroad. If you’re a pre-med student, find a program that lets you shadow a medical professional abroad. International Experience in your field looks amazing. This is pretty self-explanatory.
It’s been another great semester in World Literature Today Book Club. I’m really glad that I chose this as my international club because it fulfills my passions for reading and international awareness. This semester we have read several really amazing books including The Vegetarian by Han Kang, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugrešić, and The Life of Elves by Muriel Barberry. Reading international literature is a great way to learn about the culture of different places. Through the characters and the author’s handling of the characters you learn about values, customs, and milieu of a particular place at a particular time.
That is precisely the goal of World Literature Today Book Club: to spread international awareness and connectedness through literature. Taking this mission, we have decided to add a volunteer component to our club. One initial idea that we’ve decided to pursue would be to spread this mission to local children. In order to do this, we’re going to contact the Norman Public Library System and see if we can come up with a plan where WLT Book Club can read international children’s books to local kids and give small age-appropriate presentations to the children about the countries where the books they are reading come from. I’m very excited about this program and have taken on the role of Volunteer Coordinator so I can try to get it set up during Christmas Break and the first part of the Spring Semester. I think it would a fun way to get people involved in the international community from an early age and get children excited about other countries. Hopefully this program will become a success.
Looking forward, I think that WLT Book Club has some room to grow. Currently we only have about six regular members, so spreading the word and increasing to 10-12 members would make for a more complete organization. I’ve enjoyed my time in WLT Book Club this semester and look forward to participating next semester.
Well…I’m not in Chile. I was supposed to spend this semester abroad, but because of a family emergency I had to come back to OU so I can fly back home as necessary. It’s already half way through the semester. I’m disappointed that although I’ll be finishing my minor in Spanish, I won’t get to have the opportunity to be immersed in the language. I’m disappointed that I won’t get to spend a semester living a new culture with a host family. I’m disappointed, but life happens and I know that I made the right decision for myself and my family. Things with my family have started to settle down and it looks like everything is going to be okay. It’s with this sigh of relief that I’m finally able to look towards the future again and start planning out what happens next.
Although life didn’t work out in such a way that I will have the opportunity to study abroad for a full semester, I hope to be able to go on another summer study abroad trip. I was very excited to peruse OU’s study abroad website and find a summer program through the College of Arts and Sciences called Economics in London. If I decide to go on that trip, I will earn credit for two upper division Economics electives which will count towards that major. I am thrilled to have discovered this option that will allow me to complete classes that are applicable to my degree.
Starting to plan for my last summer here at OU, it feels like life is moving so quickly. In less than three months I will be sitting down to take the MCAT. Shortly after that will be a committee interview and piles of applications. Hopefully by the end of it all I’ll be going to graduate school. My plans have changed so many times throughout this journey, but once again I’ve revised my path and I see a way to reach my goals.