GEORGETOWN ALUM AND FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENCE ROBERT GATES BEGAN HIS PRESENTATION WITH AN INTRODUCTION MADE BY OUR VERY OWN PRESIDENT BOREN, AMONG THE CROWDS OF PROFESSORS AND ASPIRING STUDENTS. I SAT AT A TABLE OF EIGHT, NEXT TO A PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY AND AN EX MATHEMATICS PROFESSOR. THEY HAD THEIR WIVES WITH THEM, AND WE ALL POLITELY CONVERSED AS ACADEMICS DO (I THINK I COULD BE CONSIDERED AN ACADEMIC?) TALKING ABOUT OUR STUDIES, PROJECTS, AND THE RANDOM THINGS WE ALL HAD IN COMMON, WHILST POKING AT THE SALADS AND CROISSANTS IN FRONT OF US. DR. GATES EVENTUALLY CAME OUT, AND HIS IMAGE AS PROJECTED ON AT LEAST SIX SCREENS ABOUT THE ROOM. HIS SPEECH CONSISTED OF HIS VERY AMERICAN-CENTRIC NOVEL, DUTY: MEMOIRS OF A SECRETARY AT WAR, WHERE HE OUTLINED WHAT LED UP TO THE WAR IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, AND THE DIFFERENCE IN BUSH’S AND OBAMA’S POLICIES. GATES ALSO OPENLY CRITICIZED CONGRESS AND THE CONFUSION OF PARTY POLITICS WASHINGTON, BLAMING SOME OF THE TROOP INJURIES ON THE FOCUS OF CONGRESSIONAL RE-ELECTION. HE WENT ON TO DESCRIBE AMERICA’S CURRENT STATUS IN SYRIA, IN THE MIDDLE EAST, WITH CHINA AND RUSSIA. HE DEPICTED RUSSIA AS A DECLINING POWER, IT’S LEADER VLADIMIR PUTIN ‘ACTING LIKE A PETULANT CHILD’ AND CHINA ALSO A FALLING WORLD LEADER, ITS DECLINING POPULATION AND ITS INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY INCLINING TOWARDS THAT OF THE CONSUMER-BASED (EDGING AWAY FROM THEIR INDUSTRIAL STRONGHOLD). LISTENING TO HIS COMMENTS ON RUSSIA MADE ME CRINGE, AS I KNOW THAT RUSSIA’S DWINDLING POPULATION CONTRIBUTES TO ITS SOFTENED POWERS BUT I DO NOT IT WILL BE EXTERMINATED AS EASILY AS DR.GATES PROPOSES. RUSSIANS ARE TOO TOUGH AND SMART FOR THAT. MOST CYBER-ESPIONAGE IS CARRIED OUT BY RUSSIANS, ISRAELIS, CHINESE AND AMERICANS. MOST OF THE PETROL OF EUROPE IS LOCATED IN RUSSIA.
DR. GATES’ PRESENTATION WAS AN INTERESTING ONE, HIS BOOK PROBABLY NOT WORTH THE $33 I SPENT ON IT TO GET THE VAGUE ANSWER ON DOD’S FUNDING OF THE BOREN AWARD… A BAD INVESTMENT I HAVE LEARNED FROM.
FINDING AN INTERNATIONAL CLUB ON CAMPUS IS NOT DIFFICULT, AND GETTING INVOLVED IN RUSSIAN CLUB WAS NOT THAT HARD, SEEING AS OUR RUSSIAN PROFESSOR (AKA RACHICK) BASICALLY SOVIET-FORCES HIS STUDENTS INTO GOING TO EVERY MEETING. THE PEOPLE OF THE OU RUSSIAN CLUB COME FROM VARIOUS WALKS OF LIFE, MAKING EVERY MEETING VERY INTERESTING AND WE HAVE HAD A NUMBER OF SUCCESSFUL EVENTS THIS PAST SEMESTER. IN RUSSIAN CLUB WE HAVE WATCHED FROZEN IN RUSSIAN, READ RUSSIAN FAIRY TALES, DRESSED UP AS THOSE CHARACTERS FOR HALLOWEEN AND HAD A RUSSIAN FOOD PICNIC. THE PICNIC WAS A BLAST AS STUDENTS AND RACHICK’S RUSSIAN-SPEAKING FRIENDS ALL CAME TOGETHER AT A NEARBY PARK AND ATE RUSSIAN FOOD PREPARED BY RACHICK HIMSELF. IT WAS A VERY EYE-OPENING EXPERIENCE, AS I LEARNED RUSSIAN FOOD WASN’T HALF AS BAD AS EVERYONE KEPT TELLING ME! AMONG THE CHIPS AND HOT DOGS WERE EGGPLANT SALAD AND MEAT KABOBS, TRADITIONALLY PREPARED WITH BELL PEPPER AND OLIVE OIL. THE STUDENTS AND RUSSIANS INTERMIXED, AND I MET A RUSSIAN-KAZAKH MAN, PETER, WHO HAD MOVED TO OKLAHOMA IN HIS LATE TEENS AND NOW HAS HIS OWN DANCE COMPANY. MANY HAD MOVED NEAR THE END OR AFTER THE SOVIET UNION’S COLLAPSE, A FEW БАБУШКИ (GRANDMOTHERS) IN ATTENDANCE WERE STILL NOT FLUENT IN ENGLISH. THE EVENING AT THE PARK WITH THE OU RUSSIAN CLUB WAS A WAKE UP CALL, AND MADE ME REALIZE HOW MUCH I NEED TO STUDY STUDY STUDY THE LANGUAGE TO BRIDGE THE LANGUAGE GAP BETWEEN MYSELF AND THE RUSSIANS. IT ALSO MADE ME REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT FLUENCY IS, AS THE FRIENDLY AND KIND DEMEANOUR OF THE RUSSIANS MADE ME WANT TO PARTAKE IN THEIR RUSSIAN WORDPLAY AND SLAVIC JOKES.
Pico Ayer asks the question: Where is home? I have asked myself this question many a time, wondering what constitutes a home and where is my home. I have felt at home in the kitchen of my uncle’s house, among my family, and in the streets of London, but never have had a definite location I could call home. My multiple origins like that of Iyer, a constantly evolving and “unprecedented mix” of the many cultures I was brought up in (American, Colombian, Texan, Southern, half-hispanic half-American cultures), make my home nothing but a personal conception. The idea of home is an abstract concept, a point Ayer concludes, and is wholly subjective to the person and can be made by said person at their own volition. But I found Iyer’s main point very important, the crux of his presentation all upon the deduction that nowadays: where you’re from is now less important than what you are to do. The concept of a home and a definite place or nationality that makes up a person is quickly dissolving, thanks to modern technology and transportation, and has led to a new international generation of the “homeless”. Us “homeless” do not let our heredity or place of birth define us, but rather allow it to colour the background of our life stories.
THIS PAST SUMMER I GOT MY FIRST TATTOOS. and NO, THEY WERE NOT a lame ANCHOR OR a COLOURFUL CUPCAKE. WHEN DECIDING TO PERMANTENTLY INK MY BODY, I KNEW WHATEVER I CHOSE HAD TO BE SOMETHING OF SUBSTANCE, AN EVERLASTING MOTIVATOR AND/OR A REMINDER OF SORTS. I UNDERSTAND THE IDEA OF TATTOOS are TABOO IN themselves, BUT EVER SINCE THE NEOLITHIC TIMES TATTOOS were SYMBOLS OF STRENGTH OR WISDOM, OR A WAY OF DOCUMENTING A HISTORY OR ONE’S CULTURAL TIES. I KNEW THAT I WANTED SOMETHING RELATED TO THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE OR CULTURE, BUT REGARDLESS, THE PROCESS OF CHOOSING A TATTOO–SPECIFICALLY ONE WITH RUSSIAN LANGUAGE/CULTURE TIED TO IT–LED ME DOWN AN INTERESTING PATH. SO IN THE BEGINNING OF MY SEARCH, I GOOGLE SEARCHED “CULTURAL RUSSIAN TATTOOS”. WHAT CAME UP WAS THIS:
like many tattoos, the russian gulag tattoos represent a history of its wearers. not only do the pictures mean something but their placement does as well. there are a few ways of making these tattoos (albiet all of them very painful aka hardcore russian-style) such as bandaging magnesium powder to the skin (which basically burns away skin) or using needles sharpened on cell floors (a nice and sanitary way of doing it). apparently, the men and women of the russian gulags use these tattoos as means of communicating who they are to their cellmates, the tattoos themselves representing high pain tolerance and sometimes can be used against them, as punishment for a specific debt or action. the tattoos are also a particular blue-ish hue due to the pen ink, urine and shoe sole mixture used to make the tattoo ink. apparently my tattoo ARTIST was INTRIGUED as well and showed me a few of books on these types of tattoos. he said if i asked him to give me one from the book, he would have refused because if somebody found out, they would punish both the wearer and the maker…
I think our meeting went quite well! I brought in my transcript and reviewed it with Jaci, and it was definitely good to get another person’s opinion on it. I know that it will take a lot more planning and editing before I can have a workable script for the video but once all the snippets of video are edited and compiled, I think it will be easier to write something that can overlap the video appropriately. In regards to my semester, it is an eighteen credithour semester. So it’s difficult but really worth it. My diplomacy lab has really broadened my perspective on the UN and the international diplomatic community, and has given me a clearer sense of what I want to do careerwise. My other classes have given me a basis on which to understand the basics of my two majors and I have really enjoyed learning about the international programmes here on campus and what I can do to achieve my goals my sophomore year in regards to my Accounting major. My second semester will be improved with better time management and getting up earlier! I cannot continue my weekend ritual of awakening at three in the afternoon and then doing all of my work on Sunday. It isn’t sustainable! So not partying like there’s no tomorrow can be done, but now less so, so that I can be the best student I can be and make use of my time here. I will continue to apply to scholarships so that my sophomore/junior year can be spent entirely abroad and finally use my fellowship money that’s been burning a hole in my pocket since last May!
response to video:
I think Singer’s argument to give to those in need is one of merit, as he sees the opulence that we live in and our ability to help those in need through monetary aid and through the substitution of opulence with “effective altruism”. Yet, I do not believe that he is right in his assumption that giving money to help the blind in India, where thousands could be saved, and not any to a handful in England is right so that you can “feel better about yourself whenever you go to sleep at night”. The definition of altruism is “the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the wellbeing of others”, and Singer’s argument of “effective altruism” is not even altruistic at its core if the main reason is to feel better about oneself as that is inherently selfish. That in addition to the idea of quantitative giving over qualitative giving, which is what Singer is proposing in addition to the idea that the lives of the blind in India are more valuable than the lives of the blind in England. Singer definitely put me off the idea of giving because it made me think whether or not I would give to simply give or give to feel better about myself. Honestly, not knowing myself entirely doesn’t help with the decision of to give or not to give but I feel that if I was offered the opportunity to give five dollars to any charity of my choice after seeing his presentation, I would definitely ponder whether I should give anything or not. Now, my own existential crisis should not be the defining factor in giving money to a hungry child in Somalia or Bangladesh but I think it is important to know the real reason as to why one is giving before handing away money.