Spring Arabic Talent Show, End of the Semester, y España

I went to the Arabic Talent Show a few weeks ago to see my friend Cece perform again, and they were so beautiful. Cece even got a solo this time!

As always, I didn’t understand a lot of the humor until after the show because most of the student-made videos are entirely in Arabic. It frustrates me, but that’s mostly because it makes me want to learn the language that much more (I have this issue where I want to learn every single language: Chinese, Muskogee, French, Portuguese, Farsi, Arabic, Hindi, Gujarati and international sign language to name a few). Sadly, nobody performed music this time!

Food was amazing, but I feel like any food that I can get that’s even vaguely foreign is always amazing (that or food is just amazing).

Estoy tan aliviado que me he mudado del apartamento y que el semestre ha terminado. Fue bien duro, pero lograba porque tenía mi novio y mis amigas Cece y Lisa a mi lado.

No puedo esperar que irme a España, pero todavía hay cosas que tengo hacer como comprar los billetes para volar. ¡La cosa que me emociona más es conocer a mi familia huésped! Espero que me adoptan.

Hablaré más cuando el viaje empieza, pero por ahora tengo conformarme con el trabajo y ahorrar.

Hasta el 28 de junio, ¡adiós!

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Iranian House Parties, Teaching Spanish and Peter

Last night I went to an amazing house party that was thrown by my boyfriend Peter’s extended family!

His mother’s side of the family is Iranian, so I got to experience what it was like! His Aunt Patty was celebrating her daughter’s graduation, and she went all out inviting family and friends of the family. It was so extravagant and fun.

For one, the house was beautiful and huge. Appetizers were literally everywhere, so it seemed almost like the main course. People of all ages were there, and everyone was either drinking Sadaf, which is this amazing cardamom tea, or wine.

However, the most impressive part was probably the DJ that she hired to play music in the living room which served as a dance floor! I think I had the most fun during this part of the night because I got to unwind and follow my boyfriend’s moves and those of his other aunt Juju (who is about the sweetest woman that I’ve ever met). I had a lot of fun incorporating hand movements into the dance—one such move is to act like you’re unscrewing lightbulbs above your head with both hands. Peter’s favorite is to use what he likes to call ‘gypsy hands’ which is mostly smoothly rolling the fingers in a fluid motion above one’s waist. I was surrounded by about 15 people of all ages! Peter said that was his favorite part of Iranian culture: everyone dances. He also said that Iranian women don’t take their heels off to dance. It was true. Honestly, I was most impressed by the woman who jumped all five times during the Cha Cha Slide in her heels.

The music they played during the dances that had Farsi lyrics were mostly electronic which made it easy to dance to. Thankfully they included a lot of music with Spanish and even a few French songs.

His family was amazing and super accepting of me (at least on the surface level) even though Peter is the first in his family to come out as openly gay; however, I wasn’t particularly thrilled when Peter later told me that the hand motions that his uncle was making towards a girl on the dance floor meant that he was trying to set them up. There was only one instance in the night when I caught somebody disapprovingly looking at us, and that was one of the more conservative white families that were invited (we were just sitting together eating dinner… quite the scandal).

This post is basically going to be entirely related to my boyfriend, but he’s giving me a lot of good material to write about.

He’s letting me teach him Spanish! So far, he can give directions by reciting this rhyme:

Izquierda, derecha
Delante, detrás
Cerca, lejos
Y algo más
Abajo, arriba
Enfrente, encima
Y ahora, muchachos, se acaba la rima.

He learns super quick! I’ve been teaching him the basic phrases that he needs to know, but I’ll get some grammar in there too. His pronunciation is really good (mine is awful when it comes to French, but he can do that as well) for a beginner.

As for me, I’m hoping that I can finish another Spanish book before going to Spain and reading/listening to as many articles and podcasts in Spanish as possible to get my ears used to it again. I’m going to read El Alquimista by Paulo Coelho since I’ve already read another one of his books, Once Minutos.

It’s not going to be easy getting back into Spanish after having a semester off!

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The Unintended Consequences of Globalization, and Farewell to Jaci

These last few blog posts are all going to come around the same time (near the end of the semester, how surprising), so you can probably guess why.


I got to hear so much Portuguese!!
Luncheon with the Speaker

Anyway, I went to an international luncheon back in mid-April where the speaker was focused on an issue at hand: the role of globalization in the shanty towns of Brazil. Most of us can picture it from action and adventure movies: locals living in shacks built so close together they merge into complex structures, dirty slums and alleyways winding through the favela which can only be navigated by those raised there.

 

It’s unfortunate that these communities are so often overlooked by municipal governments. In fact, the speaker herself said that Brazilians frequently consider favelas as part of the landscape-something to look at but not to visit. How are they to raise standards of living if complacency dominates?

But here’s the issue: attention is being given to these regions by good people for the wrong reasons.
Let me preface this with saying that globalization is a wonderful phenomenon that is raising the standard of living for many, many deserving people around the world. It is not to say, however, that it doesn’t have its unintentional consequences.

The problem takes root in our culture: our worldview is shaped largely by what we see on television because we’re not all fortunate enough to go experience many diverse cultures firsthand. Instead, people travel via Hollywood which shows a particular worldview that happens to sell the best; that worldview tends to be one of the most romanticized and exaggerated.

What typically comes to mind

Hollywood’s view of Brazil is dominated by favelas which are embraced as a part of Brazilian culture since they’re showcased as the birthplace of most of Brazil’s popular culture. However, inhabitants of these regions are considered disposable and 2nd class citizens.

 

Mysterious fires break out destroying homes, source

Since the population is largely apathetic, the state tends to displace thousands of people for the purposes of hosting mega events like the Winter Olympics and World Cup.

Protesters in demonstration against FIFA 2014

If the outrage over this mistreatment isn’t vocalized by the native population, then we hold the responsibility as the global community to raise awareness about the inequality that persists in Brazil and pressure the state into addressing the topic.

However, the world’s focus isn’t on how to improve situation but rather to experience the inequality and return home. Poverty is more of a comfortable experience than the harsh reality of life. The speaker summarized the goal of tourists: explore favelas with the intention of getting to know the real Brazil (whatever that means) in order to better understand the culture.

And thus, the favela touring industry is born.

However, the timeline of events isn’t necessarily so straightforward. The necessity of favela tours and rising frequency of hosing mega events is more of a feedback loop with origins that as unclear as whether the chicken or the egg came first.


And now that the call to action is over, I want to address an equally depressing topic: Jaci’s leaving! 🙁

I’m sure you can already tell by now, but we are all going to miss you so much! You were a friend to all of us, and personally I thought that you were incredibly understanding when I confessed that I was having trouble staying active in an international group due to my anxieties concerning school and social events.

You made the Global Engagement Program an even more inclusive and bright community, and we are indebted to your service. Wherever you go, you will make that organization brighter and better.

¡Muchísimas gracias por todo lo que haces, Jaci! Espero que superes todos de tus obstáculos futuros y que tengas mucho éxito.

P.S. Welcome to the family, Bushra!

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Latin Dance Club, Stress, La Ciudad de Nueva York

Long time no post! Hey there again. I would like to apologize in advance for the formatting of this post, but there was little that I could do to make all of the pictures look very presentable. I’ll use this post as a learning opportunity to get some pointers on how to format nicely since I’ll have a lot when I study abroad this summer.


Latin Dance Club outdid themselves again this semester! I’m so glad to be a part of this group because the dancers are just so talented. Usually I would be intimidated by how good they are at dancing Salsa and Bachata, but they are just so amazing that I can’t help but admire their performance which is entirely improvised.
My boyfriend Peter and I learned the basic steps (Peter is a modern dancer so the style is different, but the new moves came naturally to him) at the beginning which were really simple. However, they were deceptively easy, because when it came to show time we had trouble switching between forward-backward and side-to-side motion.


Stress has been hitting hard this semester, so I had to withdraw from another course. Thankfully it won’t affect my future because the course that I withdrew from will not be required for the major that I am planning to switch to! I’ve been considering a career in mathematics because the research aspect of astrophysics was honestly killing me.

There is a funny consequence of changing majors right now which leaves just two classes until I complete a minor in physics and astronomy. Surprise, surprise, I will have three minors (including Spanish which I hope to finish over the summer). Kind of silly, I know.


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View of Manhattan Island by the Brooklyn Bridge

¡Todavía no me he olvidado el idioma! Ha sido una prueba porque no tengo tantas personas con que puedo hablar, pero visitamos a la Gran Ciudad de Nueva York donde conocí a mucha gente hispanohablante! Cuando fuimos al pico de la Plaza de 30 Rock, hablé con unas familias de España y Panamá. Pensaba que hubiera mucha gente de la República Dominicana y Puerto Rico, pero ¡había mucha gente de todos partes! A mi me encantó la ciudad porque las personas no les importa nada lo que se hace en público por los desconocidos. Sin embargo, ellos eran los más enterados y amables a quien he conocido. Aquí están algunas más fotos para aburrirte:

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Chrysler Building (estaba nevando cuando tome la foto)
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Selfie because I am a Millennial
Van Gogh's Starry Night
Van Gogh’s Starry Night

Déjame decirte que me hizo BIEN deslumbrado cuando vi la obra de Van Gogh porque es muy famosa y la a mí me ENCANTA.

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol

The United Nations building was closed!

Trump Tower
Trump Tower

Lamentablemente la torre de Trump estaba abierto.

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Political Activity

I’ve been rather politically active the past several weeks due to the onslaught of horrifying policies which have been passed under the Trump administration.

Reflecting back on the past couple of months, I realize that I must have had some small sliver of hope that our President would not have acted on his word as most politicians tend to do. Sadly that is not the case. Trump is as active as ever, yet it doesn’t seem that every decision he makes is always well-informed. How much strategizing he makes on each action appears to be minimal. He is consistent, however, when it comes to choosing policy makers with little to no experience.

Continuing this reflection, I realize that I was rather indifferent to politics. Until November, I didn’t check the news as much or really have much of an opinion at all. I was in a comfortable equilibrium like a rock balancing on a point. I fell neither to the left nor right, but this last election was that light breeze necessary to push me over.

I think that might have been the case for many other people as well, but the direction in which that breeze blew was not always the same way.

The US Capitol during the Women's March
The Capitol of Oklahoma during the Women’s March

I went to three demonstrations in the past two weeks starting with the women’s march on the Oklahoma state capitol.

It was absolutely incredible! I was never in a crowd that was so well-mannered and put together. It really reflects the civility that our communities share when in the face of their tactless behavior. We shall only stoop as low when it is necessary to do so. I know that our communities can play dirty for the greater good.

No human being is illegal.
No human being is illegal.
Large crowds despite the cold!
Large crowds despite the cold!

No estoy seguro de lo que quiero decir por las otras partes de este puesto. Es increíble que fingir que los demás tengan la capacidad de actuar con tanta xenofobia. No pienso que es posible entender sus pensamientos.


Quizás yo sea tonto por sentir tanto orgullo, pero ¡he leído mi primera novela en español! Requiso mucha paciencia, pero fue bien interesante. La historia es sobre una mujer que tiene que elegir entre una vida lleno de pecado y la que explora el mundo sagrado. Tiene que trabajar como prostituta en suiza porque iba a gastar todo de su dinero mientras iba de vacaciones.

Quiero a mi amiga Cece porque me dio la motivación necesaria para completar y superar mis desafíos.

No tengo una clase de español este semestre, pero intento hacer planes para tomar cafe con mi profesora de español y leer muchos libros en el español.

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Último día del semestre y estudiar al extranjero

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¡Finalmente! He terminado mis estudios por el semestre del otoño 2016. Este fue un semestre muy duro, así espero que el próximo será mejor.

Tristemente no estaré tomando clases de español, así voy a practicar con mi amiga Cecilia porque no tiene clases también. De hecho, no la veré por un mes y me hace sentir mal. Ella es de Misuri así no podemos vernos por las vacaciones porque estaremos ocupados en nuestras propias vidas.

Sin embargo, cuando llegue el próximo semestre, tomaré unas de mis clases avanzadas como Galaxies and Cosmology y Advanced Lab I. Temo ésas un poquito porque el laboratorio es una de las clases que a mi me disgusta la más.

Este puesto es muy negativo, así voy a hablar sobre el bueno:

img_13461Ayudé a un profesor construir un telescope en la azotea de Nielsen! Es completamente funcional, y escanea el cielo para encontrar señales de radio (un tipo de radiación que emite el hidrógeno que nos da información sobre el origen de nuestro universo).

Trabajamos por casi 4 horas en el frió, combatiendo contra el viento con los dedos de mano y pie enfriados para montar la parabólica en la base. Los estudiantes graduados fueron muy trabajadores aunque estuvimos cansados. Mi amiga Lisa, la persona a la derecha en esta foto, es muy trabajadora también. Siempre hacemos nuestra tarea juntos porque tenemos tres clases en común. Cada semestre hay una persona que me apoya enteramente, y ella es esa persona. Gracias, Lisa.

 

 

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Claro han oído de lo que está pasando en Siria (ha estado pasando por un rato – desde 2011).

Aleppo, la ciudad que ha estado situado en el medio de la lucha, es en ruinas. Para darnos perspectivo, veamos a las fotos de antes de la guerra brutal y después de ella. No sé la solución al problema, pero doy confianza a las personas que están tratando de mejorar la situación.  Es difícil que tener una opinion fuerte sobre este tema porque me siento como no tengo suficiente información y todos los recursos de información tienen preferencias sobre el tema. A mi me gusta Kurzgesagt que explica lo que ha estado pasando con la crisis de refugios.

Aquí empieza mi opinión que es sujeto a cambios:

Inmediatamente a mi me parece idealista que abrir las fronteras enteramente a los inmigrantes, pero yo se que eso no es lo que quieren decir – eso es la interpretación de los conservadores. Controlan el mundo con el miedo que es bien efectivo.

Why is it that international relations are so weak that we can’t seem to come up with a good deal to afford a reasonable amount of immigrants to each country? It is the duty of every sovereign state in the world to contribute to the international community to support those who fall, but we are still stuck in the imperialist mindset with our eyes on the goal of resources and seeing opportunity at the expense of another entity.

That is not how we are going to tackle every future problem, right? Climate change talks are seriously being seriously considered by China now, and now the EPA’s president will be a climate change denier (see last post). The conservatives in our country are doing a good job of spreading fear because it has spread from one party to another.

These failures in international relations are a result of the indecision of our own national relations. The changing societal mindset towards decisive issues has become too divisive; it is apparently in issues that have little to no long-term effects.

Remember the black/blue/white/gold dress from a long time back? People were legitimately becoming enraged over somebody disagreeing with their perspective. Those colors of the dress WERE their reality. This is analogous, in my opinion, to religion. One’s beliefs shapes their reality, so they aren’t lying. We must learn to accept that others have differing beliefs and entertain those ideas without necessarily accepting it for oneself.

I don’t normally get so heated about issues like these because I like to withhold my opinion, but it is so aggravating to see people quarrel.


On that note, have a great winter break!

 

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Our President-elect and Not Hating the Opposition

History is constantly being made just as consistently as time moves on. What will we leave for future generations to look back on, and in what circumstances will we leave them in?


So far, Trump has not been the harbinger of death for our country. He did do something that is quite remarkable, though: He’s appointed Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier, to head the EPA. 

Thanks. A proud product of Oklahoma.

Like many of you (hopefully) did, I cast my vote during the presidential election – I felt the same tension as many of you felt that Tuesday night as state after state revealed the true current nature of the United States. I went to bed that night before anything official was called and felt a pressure on my chest which is a sensation similar to that of an asthma attack.

The next morning came, and the world kept on turning. Just as it did, we should keep our motivation to make a difference: Vihart, one of my favorite mathematical vloggers, reminds us that making a difference requires more than just one vote; it requires a small and habitual effort which builds to relentless proportions.

Let’s keep in mind what our goals are and remember that it is going to take more than a vote to achieve the future that we want.

“We do not doubt the sincerity of the beliefs of our fellow attorneys general about climate change and the role human activity plays in it. But we call upon them to press those beliefs through debate, not through governmental intimidation of those who disagree with them.”

This is taken from an Op-Ed piece of Scott Pruitt’s in collaboration with Luther Strange, the attorney general of Alabama.


Long aside: Do not, for the love of all that is good, rope people into groups based on the limited knowledge that you know about them. This goes to you, dear reader, to me, my parents, my sister, your sister, your parents, your friends, my fourth grade teacher (love you Mrs. Shipley), EVERYONE. If there is one thing that I have feared more than anything in my life is that I will collapsed down into one aspect of my identity as many people are daily.

Here’s an example:

My mother and I were chatting about something casually the other day, and she dropped this on me.

“I thought that you’d have some opinion about this color scheme.”

This one instance doesn’t necessarily mean that she thinks I’m some flamer who goes bouncing around in a rainbow flag. However, I have been getting this more and more frequently and from people that I would have never expected.

This collapsing doesn’t apply solely to gender, sexual, racial, or generational identity. It applies to political affiliation especially. 

Believe it or not, but one of my close friends voted for Trump and I didn’t immediately drop them. I didn’t immediately consider them a bigot, either. Certainly it gave me a shock and I reevaluated what I thought that I knew about them to some extent, but they are still my good friend.

I feel like it isn’t that much to ask of someone to not immediately hate someone based on some aspect of their personality. As easy as it is for us to not dislike black people, can we say the same for older people? How about people from the countryside? How about rich people? How about religious people? So many of my friends are quick to judge, and I detest that. These people are exactly that. People. I feel as though I’m always playing defense and believing that good can exist in anyone from any walk of life.


Now that bit is over, Scott Pruitt can be said to be with 100% confidence that he is, in fact, a climate change denier. Have no doubt about that label. It sounds like an article from The Onion that a man such as him has been assigned to head the EPA.

I believe that it is our responsibility to encourage critical thinking in every situation. Don’t immediately agree with an opinion because that person is also a (insert party here). Don’t immediately disagree with an opinion because that person isn’t a (insert party here) like you. Question it. That includes my opinion that I just gave you.

Does this post hint at the fact that I don’t agree with everything my generation has thought of to be morally true? I hope it does.

 

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Arabic Talent Show, México, y Bachata,

img_13031Let me tell you that the end of this semester has been considerably better than the first 2/3 of it. Finals are looming, and Dead Week is turning out to be exactly what we didn’t want it to be: full of assignments and tests.

 

 

 


My incredibly talented friends img_13311from left to right: Nikita, Cecilia, Kayleigh, and Sapphire. Belly dancing is an art, and certainly one must put a lot of effort into perfecting the technique. My friends did exactly this; they worked so hard this semester to get the dance right, so they put on quite the show this past Friday at the talent show.

I attended the first belly dancing class in the beginning of the semester, and it was challenging because these hips don’t lie [but they certainly don’t talk very much]. By far, the greatest obstacle was gyrating the hips without bobbing the rest of the upper torso. In short, if somebody put their hands on your shoulders, they shouldn’t be able to feel you move whatsoever.

They’re capable of doing that from dawn till dusk all while including hair flips and winking seductively (looking at you Cecilia).

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Cecilia, the dancer featured in the middle of each of these photos, is my close friend who I am going to Puebla, Mexico with this summer! We’re going to learn how to cook in the culinary class that OU in Puebla offers.

Este verano, vamos a conocer a su amiga quien vive allá y disfrutar todo lo que ofrece la ciudad.

¡Apenas no puedo contenerme!


 

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Día de los muertos, México, y la salud mental

¡Es ese tiempo del año otra vez!

Asistí el fimg_1264estival que Norman celebró el 30 de octubre y fue fantástico. Comimos arepas (colombianas) y subimos muchas atracciones como esta noria. Había máscaras, bandas mexicanas, y alegría, pero todavía a mi me gustaría irme a México para ver la amplitud entera del festival.

Es la neta que estoy aplicando actualmente para estudiar en Mexico por el verano, y no puedo esperar. Si me voy, tomaré una clase culinaria con mi amiga buena y otra para completar mi minor en español. Vamos a callejear por la ciudad de Puebla y explorar todo lo que hay que hacer. Ya estoy aprendiendo la jerga que usan los mexicanos así que pueda integrar en la cultura. ¿Qué onda, güey?

Este puesto es tarde y probablemente será muy corto porque he estado bien ocupado.

No voy a mentir cuando digo que he estado perdiendo la energía que tuve para seguir luchando contra la depresión, pero continuo. Espero que tendré la motivación para completar este semestre y el próximo.

¡Gracias por leer! Trataré de poner otro puesto antes del fin del mes.

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Mental Health, La Cajita Feliz, and Decision Making

FORUM’s most recent issue over mental health is absolutely fantastic. Please check it out if you haven’t already.

I wanted to talk about mental health and society’s negligence to address issues regarding it. These issues strike very close to home. Ben Kannenberg’s post regarding his friend who fell through the cracks of OU’s counseling and administrative systems is encouraging to all those who feel like they aren’t getting the help that they need.

Goddard is nearly booked right now (when I tried scheduling an intake appointment just a week ago, they told me that the soonest opening was mid-November), so a good alternative is the Counseling Psychology Clinic [(405) 325-2914]; they are training clinic for OU’s Psychology Doctoral Program, but it beneficial and cheap nonetheless. The wait is two weeks at most, and they conduct a short questionnaire over the phone to gauge the circumstances of your struggle and find the right counselor for you. So far, they have been incredibly understanding. I’ll keep you posted.


Lo siento por la demora de esta publicación. El leer de La cajita feliz que asistí fue más que un mes pasado, pero este semestre ha sido lo más estresante de todos, y, debido a esto, he estado descuidando mis responsabilidades.

En jueves, el 15 de septiembre, asistí el leer bilingüe de la historia ‘La cajita feliz’ por Nadia Villafuerte. En el leer, la autora contó de la perspectiva ficticia de una guatemalteca esperanzada quien se va para los Estados Unidos así que pueda conseguir mucho éxito en una manera que no sabe ella.

Durante los viajes de ella, encuentra a un mexicano quien le ayuda para viajar al norte en cambio por el sexo. Debido a la historia de ella, a él le trata con disgusto. Lo que no se da cuenta de es que a ella se volverá embarazada por él que les fuerza casarse mientras las expectaciones de ella se caen poquito por poquito.

El elemento temático del conformar en la vida se aparece otra vez cuando llegan a los EE.UU. Su vida no es como la imaginó porque su vida familiar, en el mejor de casos, es deprimente y empieza extrañar su pueblo en Guatemala. La insatisfacción de ella se aparece en su resentimiento contra su hija quien, consecuentemente, es media mexicana.

El cuento de Villafuerte depende de la perspectiva del monologo interior de ella como permanece en su mundo desolado. Por eso, creo que refleja hasta que punto ella vive en su propia mente en lugar de interactuar y confrontar la realidad en que existe. Siento para la narradora porque he luchado mis expectaciones como ella para conformarme y estar contento con la situación en que estoy.

Después de leer este cuento, me sentí mejor porque mi vida no es tan inmóvil y tengo más oportunidades, pero sentía por los inmigrantes de guatemaltecos que trataron los mejores que pudieron y todavía tuvieron que conformarse con una vida peor que imaginaron.


In case you haven’t already noticed, a reoccurring theme of this blog is indecision and the ambiguity of the future.

I have probably changed my mind 3 or 5 times in the past week, but I think the future is starting to look like I will study abroad this summer in Puebla, Mexico. There I will be able to take cultural cooking classes and advanced Spanish classes to complete my minor. That sounds fantastic, but I don’t know when I’ll study abroad for a semester if not next semester. Rigid majors and studying abroad do not mix very well.

Anyway, if I do that, then I won’t need to study in a Latin American country for the semester term. So many more possibilities. The options are endless.

I wish I could end this post on an upbeat note with hope for the future, but that’s just not where I am right now.

Ay, dios mio.

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