My friend is visiting me right now from Florida, and that got me thinking about her high school. She went to IMG academy, which is a school that revolved around training for sports. At the school, it had students from over 50 countries, more than any other school I had ever heard. The influences from all of these different places in one place reminded me of the school in Italy that had different representations of countries in one place. While the two schools main goals had different purposes overall, I can’t help but see the similarities. Both of these schools appreciated their diversity and encouraged meeting new people from other places. Whether the students were hand selected like in Rondine or just attending school like in IMG, they both encouraged acceptance of different cultures.
This was actually the first time that this really happened to me. When I was volunteering at Kennedy working with the students from El Salvador, their mom was there to talk with one of the teachers. Like her kids, she didn’t speak any English. I told her in Spanish that I would not be their translator for the meeting because I was still learning the language. Their mom then guessed that they would be calling a translator, I then turned to tell the teacher that was with the mom to inform her that she understood that they were going to call someone else. I realized half way through my sentence when I saw the questioning look from the teacher that I was still speaking Spanish. I was completely surprised with myself. There have been times before when I could only think of a Spanish word for a particular item, but I had never accidentally spoken Spanish without realizing it at that level.
I have been working with two students in the Norman Public School system who arrived in the middle of the year from El Salvador. When I first began working with these students, they had no knowledge of the English language. This really forced me to stretch my language abilities because the two students could only understand me when I spoke Spanish. On top of that, I had to come up with activities that would help them learn English. At first it was really hard to think of engaging activities, but I then remembered how I was first taught Spanish during high school, and that gave me some great ideas! One of the students’ favorite activities was drawing out the new vocabulary words they had just learned from a story. This gave them a personalized visual representation of the new words. While volunteering with these kids was extremely challenging at times, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Every time I would show up, there would be an amazing improvement from the kids as well as an obvious want to learn more.
In my Spanish class this semester, I learned a lot about Spanish literature. It was extremely interesting because it is so different than English. For the most part the poetry was the most different. We started off with just counting syllables, and I thought it was going to be just like English. I was definitely wrong though because the vowels stay together in one sound. The rules continue if a word ends in a vowel and the preceding word begins in vowel the sounds combine into one syllable. This aspect of the syllables threw me off a little especially after finally understanding the rules, there are of course exceptions to the rule. All in all though I found it extremely fascinating all of there different rules and types of poverty throughout that section.
I recently read an article about how you would go about explaining a sorority to an exchange student from another country. I realize that the concept of a sorority is kind of weird. A group of 85 women learning the secrets behind their houses and then living in the same house with all of them. Not exactly that normal of a thing. I have been raised being around the greek life with my mom and all of my older cousins being in a sorority that I honestly have never given it a second thought. Reading this article though brought back a conversation I had with my OU Cousin last year. I was talking about my sorority and she had never heard of anything like it, but I did’t realize how weird sororities were until I read this article. It made me think of some of her comments that I didn’t even think about then. I love being in a sorority, and my involvement in one has definitely helped me grow as a person, but honestly… they are weird.
Through my internship, I edited and prepared the power points for the Pre-Departure Orientation for the students going to study abroad for a semester in Arezzo. This process let me learn about the new possibilities offered in Arezzo for the upcoming semesters and summer sessions such as The Santa Chiara monastery for the students who will be there for an entire semester and all of the different programs offered during the summers. I actually attended the second PDO and got to experience what it will be like when I go abroad for an entire semester and the things I need to be aware of. Even though I don’t think I will be going abroad to Arezzo, I know many of the topics brought up in the PDO will be relevant no matter where I choose to study abroad.
I got the chance to visit my friend that goes to UCLA this past week and it was great! When I was there I couldn’t help but notice that their school is so different than OU. I obviously knew that it was going to be slightly different but I wasn’t expecting the differences to be so noticeable. The first thing I noted was that the students dressed different than my usual oversized t-shirt and leggings. When I was getting ready in the mornings I always tried to choose something that I thought would fit in the best with their campus. I ended up borrowing a lot of my friend’s clothes because my Oklahoma garb was definitely not California enough and attracted some looks. This experience with clothes made me think of my time in Italy because I would go through the same processes there, except even when I tried I was still obviously a tourist. At least with the help of my friend, I fit in in California… At least I think I did.
During the chat with the global engagement fellows I was interested to hear about others’ experiences while abroad because each was so different than my own. The part that stood out to me most was all of the different marriage proposals to people in a variety of different places. In Italy, I didn’t experience anything like that probably because I look similar to the people, I was in a large group, and it is a much more touristy location. I assume the locals were accustom to us and understandably did not have the urge to propose. I also was excited to hear some of the freshman’s experiences abroad and the travels of others before college because they were in a different environment than actually studying abroad. While they are both great experiences, it was interesting to see how they varied.
Helping put on Italy Week gave me insight in all of the different ways the university promotes studying abroad. As I helped plan for the events of the week, I got the chance to learn about the numerous opportunities OU in Arezzo offers for all different majors. My favorite time this week was when I actually got to help with tabling. I had fun sharing the knowledge I had from when I went abroad as well as what I had learned during my short time as an intern. I was also working with other students that had spent semesters in Italy, the study abroad adviser for Arezzo, and actual faculty from Italy. Hearing all of their adventures in Italy allowed me to learn a lot about the process of studying abroad and more about the Italian culture that I hadn’t got to experience in my short time there. All in all it was great see everyone’s interest in studying abroad and to have the opportunity to spread the word on Arezzo.