Latinist Lunch with Dr. Paulo Moreira

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to attend one of the Latinist lunches that are held often in Farzaneh Hall.  This one ran from 12:00pm – 1:15pm and it was entitled “Compulsive Memory: Contemporary Brazilian Cinema and the Military Dictatorship” and the talk was given by OU’s first full-time Portuguese instructor, Dr. Paulo Moreira.

This was taken during the lunch. Dr. Moreira can be seen in blue, leaning over to have a conversation with the lady to his left.

The talk centered around the genre of the Brazilian Dictatorship films (of which there are over 40 such movies) but it especially highlighted “4 Days in September” which is loosely based  off of a novel that describes the kidnapping of the American ambassador to Brazil. The ambassador is kidnapped by student revolutionaries who are protesting the recent government takeover by the military. Their plan was to exchange the ambassador with leftist political prisoners.

The movie has encountered some criticism as it is not as historically accurate as one would hope. There were some cases with the characters being the combination of several real people and another where a real women was split into two separate characters. One can imagine why this would cause outcry. The film also tried to humanize both sides of the conflict including the state torturers which really made some people who lost family under the regime quite upset.

However, it has been accepted that this is an important film genre for Brazil to have as it forces them to talk about horrible events that some had hoped would be forgotten. This phase in entertainment has been a catharsis for the people of Brazil who were around during that time and it has gotten young people more involved in Brazilian history.

Overall, I enjoyed the talk and the sandwiches were delightful as well!

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Latinist Lunch with Dr. Paulo Moreira

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to attend one of the Latinist lunches that are held often in Farzaneh Hall.  This one ran from 12:00pm – 1:15pm and it was entitled “Compulsive Memory: Contemporary Brazilian Cinema and the Military Dictatorship” and the talk was given by OU’s first full-time Portuguese instructor, Dr. Paulo Moreira.

This was taken during the lunch. Dr. Moreira can be seen in blue, leaning over to have a conversation with the lady to his left.

The talk centered around the genre of the Brazilian Dictatorship films (of which there are over 40 such movies) but it especially highlighted “4 Days in September” which is loosely based  off of a novel that describes the kidnapping of the American ambassador to Brazil. The ambassador is kidnapped by student revolutionaries who are protesting the recent government takeover by the military. Their plan was to exchange the ambassador with leftist political prisoners.

The movie has encountered some criticism as it is not as historically accurate as one would hope. There were some cases with the characters being the combination of several real people and another where a real women was split into two separate characters. One can imagine why this would cause outcry. The film also tried to humanize both sides of the conflict including the state torturers which really made some people who lost family under the regime quite upset.

However, it has been accepted that this is an important film genre for Brazil to have as it forces them to talk about horrible events that some had hoped would be forgotten. This phase in entertainment has been a catharsis for the people of Brazil who were around during that time and it has gotten young people more involved in Brazilian history.

Overall, I enjoyed the talk and the sandwiches were delightful as well!

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Finished Reading “Revolution For Dummies”

This is a somber day as I have officially finished reading the book “Revolution for Dummies” by Bassem Youssef for my international reading group. The story is the true tale of how Bassem Youssef went from a heart surgeon to Egypt’s first satirist at the start of the Arab Spring and his eventual exile from the country. The show he created simply known as “The Show”, was heavily inspired by “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart as it also told the truth about current events through jokes. Jon Stewart would later be a guest on what came to be the most highly watched show in the history of Arabic television.

I learned a lot about Egyptian culture during my time reading and I was most surprised to learn about the absolute reverence the citizens of Egypt have for the military as a result from decades of military dictatorship. When the Muslim Brotherhood lost power and General Sisi  took control, Youssef started to tel jokes about him. This was incredibly unpopular by the populace as he was seen as an extension of the military and the military is always right. This drop in popularity gave the government a chance to threaten him more openly, prompting his departure to the United States.

My final group reading discussion is tomorrow. I am sure I’ll have more to say then.

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OU Study Abroad Fair

I am sorry to say that I am uploading information about this international event quite late. It took place on the 7th of September in the South Oval from 10am – 2pm and I am happy to say that I was available to go around that time. When I first arrived, I saw the booths I knew would be there which included the more traditional OU ones for Arezzo, Rio de Janeiro, and Puebla. I will be going to Arezzo so I made sure to check out the booth and make sure it met my approval. After all, I can objectively say that Arezzo is the best out of the three destinations and you can take that unbiased statement as fact. 

The handout on the left in the image below is something I got from the lovely people of Arcadia. I saw that it was discussing STEM opportunities and I got all excited about all the exotic places I could go. I have to admit, I was somewhat disappointed when I saw that the main places to visit were in the British Isles. I mean, they are lovely, but what fun is a study abroad experience if you don’t get hopelessly lost and don’t know the language?

The one on the right is a country I would very much like to visit someday. I am honestly not sure why I would rather visit this country over that of Japan. Perhaps it is because I am drawn to a country with a chance of being involved in a devastating land invasion from a hostile foreign power, as that generally spices things up.  Is that just me or … ?

Overall, I enjoyed this event and I did learn about other possible study abroad possibilities.

 

This is what I took from the event.

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An Introduction

This is a test image I lifted from creative commons.

Hello! This is a test post to see if I have truly got my blog up and running. I expect I will be posting more content in the future as my experience here with the University of Oklahoma continues.

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The South Korean Impeachment and Election

By a stroke of fate I happened to be in South Korea to witness the entire impeachment and election process firsthand. There were some very prominent differences that noticed between America’s presidential election and theirs. Especially considering how our recent went. This made the whole process all the more fascinating and nerve-wracking to watch.

The dismissal and impeachment of Park Geun-hye was obviously a prominent topic in Daegu. My Korean friends were exited and relieved to see her out of office and explained her corruption to me during the impeachment. In order to avoid a power vacuum, the election was held very soon after she was removed from office. There are six parties represented in the National Assembly and a record number of fifteen candidates initially registered to run. The Democratic Party candidate, Moon Jae-in won with over 40% of the vote, and on March 10th took office. This was a big relief to many, especially us there on a visa.

During the campaign, it was common to see rallies around to city along with the giant banners and trucks that doubled as musical billboards with bright colors and bold print along with each candidates original and unique theme song. South Korea has very strict regulations on how and what candidates can advertise. So each truck, poster, and sign looked like part of a set with all of the other member’s running. All of the messages seemed to be very upbeat and positive. There was little to no mudslinging or discrediting from any side that I could see, and a distinct absence of lavish or grandiose rallies and setups. I doubt billions of dollars were spent in there election, unlike what recently happened back home.

 

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Film and History

My favorite class while at KNU was hands down my Korean Cinema class. The professor, a Canadian-raised Korean, gave detailed historical context for each fil we studied and for the film industry as a whole.

The film my group presented on was centered around the extremely rigorous and strict Korean education system and its effects on modern students. The film, Pluto, dealt with a great del of extremely dark material to drive home the main themes. There were quite a few of the selected films that centered around either the Korean war or military in some way. Which makes perfect sense considering the history of the country and surrounding area. The topic of censorship was very prevalent in our discussion due to Korea’s former and current strict content censorship laws.

He showed us how intertwined the government and the entertainment industry can be and how people tell their stories trough film. My favorite part of the class was our group discussions. We had an incredibly diverse group of students so the conversations could confront a topic from nearly every angle. We all learned a lot not about South Korea, but about everyone else’s home country. So at the end of the semester, when our professor showed us his own documentary that took us into his family life as a Canadian-raised Korean and the transition that everyone in his family went through, it felt much more personal and much more real than most of my classes in the past have ever been.

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Friends in Many Places

Aside from being immersed in Korean culture, I also has the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the other exchange students. There were people from all over the world at KNU along with me. I got to learn some Irish drinking songs and improve my salsa and bachata skills. We were able to fill an air b&b in Seoul with people from seven different countries. Thanks to countless nights of laughs and getting to know each other, I now have a place to crash through most of Europe. There’s a network of friends around the world who I can keep in touch thanks to social media and who are already planning a reunion trip.

Most of my classes are of course mainly Korean students so I’ve made some Korean friends within the classroom who I still chat with as well. It was an interesting experience to be so clearly the odd one out so often. I think that may have helped us bond as a group. (Although some made the association a bit embarrassing at times). There were so many unforgettable moments that’s I’m so glad to have gotten on camera.

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My Internship at the Daegu Arts Center

I applied for this internship for a number of reasons, the foremost being professional development. I knew that I possessed relevant skills for the position and a background in the arts. Also, the chance to learn about Korean culture in such a direct and hand-on way was very appealing to me.

On an average day working at the DAC I would help generate promotional content on various media platforms for the DAC or specific events they hosted. I would also often aid in translation from Korean to English. My other duties included basic classroom management for some of the classes held on the campus. I also got to participate in these classes and learn how to play some traditional Korean instruments. One of my larger projects was helping to write an outreach and partnership letter to UNESCO and researching other music centers within their organization.

I was fortunate enough to be able to see and participate in a wide variety of performances. This gave me a very clear window into the Korean culture that people without this internship would not find as easily. Music has always been one of my deepest passions, and has deep meaning for me personally. So being able to hear and play the traditional music of Korea opened me up to them as a people more than many other things probably could. So, the jangu class was highly entertaining for me.

I absolutely loved being able to go to the concerts and plays. the work environment was very welcoming and my manager was eager to help the interns any way she could.

 

 

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Beauty in Korea

I’ve seen many beautiful things while I’ve been in Korea. I got the opportunity to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom and cover the city in pale pink petals and bring green back to the previously barren trees. I’ve seen conversations between friends break down into five separate languages and eventually devolve into laughter. I’ve seen Seoul lit up at night and people who perfect strangers not a few weeks ago forge deep friendships and let go of most of our inhibitions. Thanks to my internship at the Daegu Art Center, I’ve been able to watch a number of classical and contemporary performances from violin and piano sonatas to modern dance, along with several traditional Korean pieces.

But I have experienced all of this form a unique position of privilege that I didn’t really think about before coming here. South Korea is a culture in transition. their country has gone through incredibly rapid urbanization in the past few decades. This relative leap into modern industry has also pushed them to the forefront of fashion, cosmetics, and the beauty industry. However, their beauty standards are extremely westernized. A large percentage of the population gets “double eyelid” surgery, which basically makes their eyes fit into general white beauty standards. plastic surgery of all kinds is actually quite common and relatively inexpensive in South Korea.

In a bizarre and somewhat compelling turn of events, I found myself now held in a higher esteem of beauty. I had a lot of mixed feelings about this and didn’t quite know how to handle some situations. From complete strangers stopping me on the street to my boss saying she envied me, I was confronted with these awkward scenarios. This feels self-aggrandizing and narcissistic, which is why it was so uncomfortable to deal with. But it got me thinking about the beauty industry on a global scale and how it differs from country to country. I already had a some awareness of this topic, but being exposed to a completely new culture really deepened my understanding of how profoundly the ideas of beauty and success can affect a culture.

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