SIGNS OF LIGHT

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall make straight your paths

I am not a very patient person. I never have been, and I probably never will be. Somehow, this is the verse that speaks the most to me. There are so many things that I wanted to happen this last year, and so many things that I am waiting on. As someone who would rather get everything done herself right away, life can get really frustrating that way.

I think this verse speaks to me so much because it represents the kind of life that I want to lead. I think it tells of a trust that is lacking in my life sometimes. Sure, there are times when I feel at ease with God and all that he has given me, but there are lots of other times when I worry. I worry about getting to do everything it is that I want to be able to do, and love everything that I want to be able to love.

This semester, I’ve learned that so many things are out of my hands. That trust is so hard on one’s heart. Everything is in place for a reason though, and I cannot wait to see what those reasons are.

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ENDINGS

Moving out has been very bittersweet. This semester came to a close so quickly, and I cannot imagine anything different about it. It has been so hard to move away and start over, and I have so many insecurities that have only become more exposed this year, but I have learned so much about life and who I am and how I am still figuring so many things out, but that’s okay.

I’m gonna miss our tiny little home here in 1019E and 1021E. I have been so blessed to meet so many people on campus and joined so many different organization. Being a part of the Sooner family has already changed my life so much, and I cannot wait to see what OU has to offer me for the next three years. I cannot believe that freshman year is over already. I still feel so inexperienced and green.

 

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RISE IN POPULISM

Populism and populist leaders have been rising in popularity across the nation to the surprise of many people around the world. Those who have studied right-wing movements, such as guest lecturer Dr. Reinhard Heinisch, have come to understand that no country is immune to populism; no matter its development or its history, its susceptibility does not change. Populism calls into question the principles of liberal democracy and works to break rules in the mainstream. Associated with ideas of nationalism, and nativism, it champions “forgotten/ignored people” of a certain state. Different parties have different contexts that bring in different ideas that may include nativism, ethnocentrism, racism, antisemitism, religiocentrism, heterocentrism, islamophobia, anti-EU, and other forms of discrimination that inspire ideas focusing on a certain “right people” and blaming a scapegoat.

The lecture was eye opening to the news I have been hearing about elections in Europe. While I feel that I would have gotten more out of the lecture if I had more prior knowledge on current events, it was easy to relate the subject to our own domestic issues in the United States surrounded the controversial President Donald Trump. The rise of populism really capitalizes on the great divide that we see in world perspectives today. It is so easy to surround yourself with like-minded people and not understand those with different opinions. So many issues such as climate change, have become so bipartisan because of this. I believe that compromise is what we should strive for in the future. How this can be achieved and how quickly, I have no idea. I do not believe that populism is a movement that will quickly diminish. By what we have seen in the world, and the strength of these parties, I believe that this is something that needs to be checked, understood, and we desperately need to find a true compromise.

THE BREADWINNER

This semester, I was part of a reading group that read two children’s novellas. The Breadwinner and Habibi are two novels that address issues in the Middle East through the lens of children, something new and different than the majority of what we hear in the United States today. My main focus has mostly been on Latin America and Spain simply because I was studying Spanish. However, I was deeply intrigued by this reading group and the subject of these novels. Wanting to broaden my horizons, I learned so much from coming to our little book club and discussing a novel.

Literature is something very dear to me, and I truly missed being able to read something and discuss it. This book club was a lovely outlet for me to do something I love and learn more about a subject I am not very familiar with. The Breadwinner followed the journey of a young girl named Parvana and how her life was affected by Taliban rule in the Afghanistan. It’s an amazing story that I would recommend to anyone, especially those that may not have large exposure to issues in the Middle East. I was thankful for the group to be able to give me a lot of the background on area, culture, and important issues that made the book an easier read.

DEMOCRACY

We should be vigilant with what is important to us, including our democracy, and the voice of an individual

In light of what is happening in our government, the College of International Area Studies hosted a “Forum on Democracy.” The forum began with a graduate student speaking out about what he thought about the event. He believed it to be a “liberal” backlash against the Trump administration, and believed that the conversation being starting on democracy was inflammatory and reactionary. He cited titles, referring to them as divisive. His comments, while were completely welcome, confused me. I did not see the forum as reactionary and defensive.

We never want to believe that threats to democracy could never happen here. The United States was founded on the idea of democracy. We have never had a King, and we live in a republic. Professor Mitchell Smith talked about how one of our democratic rights have already begun to be violated. Elected officials are rending citizens voiceless, and many officials are becoming more interesting in wielding power than upholding democracy. He called us to question why Donald Trump really says “fake news.” He wants us to question his agenda, and fight to understand what is truly happening. Dr. Alan McPherson, director for the center of the Americas, he compared the “strong man” persona and personality to that of Donald Trump’s. He outlined the difference between autocracy—non-constitutional change in policy—and populism—acts outside the bonds of democracy resulting in inequality.  He asked us to analyze Trump’s personality. He is charismatic and narcissistic, much like the strong autocrats in Latin America. He seeks the attention of crowds and monopolizes the media. He is a chauvinist and inspires hatred and divides people. Many of his actions including executive orders, questioning the popular vote, and shaming the media reflect a disdain on any checks on his power. Tarren Hircshfield gave us a background on kleptocracy, asking us to be cautious about what might happen in the future. Peter Gries provided a case study on China, asking us to question what role propaganda has and understand the repercussions.

Kyle Harper began the forum with opening statements on what democracy really meant. He started off with the etymology of the word; it means rule by the people. The word is 1000’s of years old with Greek origins and a broad definition. The Greeks believed that democracy was not just a political system. They saw it as a regime, or a way of life that encompassed religion, education, and the military. Kyle Harper’s definition of democracy has three parts: genuine opportunity, respect for the truth, and a sense of community. He emphasized education, especially this university, should stand as an example, a pillar of democracy. Education is important to teaching young minds how to reach their fullest potential and to teach people to think for themselves, and I came to this forum to become more informed because you cannot think for yourself if you do not understand what is happening in the world. Democracy is fragile and crucial; we should always be concerned about our democracy.

OUR EARTH

On 2/23/2016, I attended a “Latin Americanist Lunch” hosted by the College of International Studies. After an entire semester of having class at 12:00pm, I was finally fortunate to find myself with the time to go to one of these miniature lectures. I sat down the with my roommate in the two seats next to the guest speaker and the sponsoring OU professor.

Besides getting Panera lunch, I had a number of noble and not so noble reasons for attending this guest lecture. In my Understanding the Global Community Class, attending these international area studies events can result in extra credit. I also am required to attend these events for the scholarship that I keep this blog for. For my sorority, you can also receive points for attending these “multicultural events.” Besides these reasons for obvious personal gain in other aspects of my life, I am extremely interesting in Latin America. I am currently in Grammar in Conversational Spanish, the fifth semester of Spanish Language offered at the University of Oklahoma, and I love the language and the multitudes of cultures that share the language. Thus, this opportunity seemed to fit all of my motivations rather closely.

I had the rare opportunity of being forced to talk to the speaker and one of my future professors for Understanding the Global Community. This opportunity came from walking in much later than the majority of attendance of other students and the only seats available at the table were those two. I was definitely not ready to talk about myself in a professional college standpoint, and actually stumbled after being asked my major. To say the least, I was rather embarrassed and I hope that I made up for it when telling him about myself. (I always feel nervous about not seeming intelligent and then coming off “too smart”) I told him about my plans to study abroad in Latin America and goals to attend medical school, and we had interesting small talk during the lunch before the talk. It was definitely nice to be able to have that kind of interaction with professors, and be able to talk about myself in a professional manner.

The speaker, Dr. David Lopez-Carr, is the head of the department of geography at the University of California–Santa Barbara. He was an extremely stimulating speaker. He was able to connect geography to bigger issues such as the urbanization and how that changes a nation and different communities. He mentioned the changes that capitalism can cause in the world. My Understanding the Global Community Class combined with these kinds of lectures that I have been attending have really opened my mind to the concepts of globalization and how my individual choices can make a statement. He was a professor I only to to get to know one day. He’s a champion for women’s education and sees education as the key to change. This idea is incredibly important and I really enjoyed this lecture. Dr. Lopez-Carr was able to connect so many different issues to geography. He spoke about women’s pregnancy and how many children a family has changes from rural locations to urban locations. And the fewer children mean that more resources are given to each child. He also spoke about how education also causes women to have fewer children. He also spoke about deforestation in the food industry. The food industry spends so much money on deforestation for crops. The energy used to farm these crops will be lost greatly in the food chain, and the championing for the meat industry is potentially dangerous.

This was an amazing choice for a lecture to begin the Latin Americanist Lunches, and I count myself grateful to the university to have provided me with this opportunity to hear from a visiting professor.

Boom Soon

College was nothing like I had expected it to be.

I came to the University of Oklahoma excited from my time at Camp Crimson and looking forward to stretching my limits, expanding my horizons, and meeting new people. I joined a sorority (something that surprised most of my friends and my boyfriend) and I loved it. I changed my major three times (technically two, but I plan on changing it once again after holiday break. The semester went by extremely quickly. It only feels as if it was yesterday that it was the summer after my senior year of high school. There were lots of things I wish I could go back and tell little anxious, fresh out of high school Sabrina. I would tell her to take it easy with the hard classes, and that it’s okay to not know what you’re doing. I spent a lot of this last semester with a lot of personal problems with leaving the life I had at home. I left myself with a lot of regret and disappointment. With these feelings, I set myself up for disaster, anxious about every single little thing.

After sorority recruitment, I really felt socially exhausted. It was hard for me to want to go out and meet new people, and then I got nervous about people already having friends from home, and people already making friends when I was just sitting in my room. I got anxious about all of that, and I think that it really affected the way I came off to people. It has been hard to adjust. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had always thought that I would go to an Ivy League school. I knew it was a slightly unrealistic dream, but the regret and disappointment only increased as I sat in my room wondering if I really fit in at this school. I was scared that this wasn’t the right place for me. I still am sometimes, but I think a lot of us are unsure of why we are where we are whether that be a location or a class or a college or a place in our lives. I have found the opportunities at OU to be vast and limitless. There is so much to be involved in and there is so much to look forward to with each coming semester. I look forward to wearing the Crimson and Cream for the next 4 years, and call the University of Oklahoma my home. There are so many people that are willing to help you, and so many ways to become the person you want to be. In the last month of school, I have slowly fallen into the place that I think I want to be. I’m still working on myself, but I will continue to do that for the rest of my life.

College is definitely a learning experience both inside the classroom and out, and I am looking forward to getting the most that I can out of that experience. This semester has been a time of many firsts. My first honey butter chicken biscuit, my first braum’s, my first college classes, my first D on a test, my first Raising Cane’s, and my first time I wasn’t sure where I was going or what I was doing. The future was so unclear, but I am looking forward to finding where I am meant to be with the help of this university. After all, there is only one.

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HENNA NIGHT

11/16/16

Delta Gamma co-programmed with the OUIS (OU India Society) to present Henna Night in order to benefit Baal Dan Charities. OUIS was able to sell $3 tickets to get food and drink, and then also do henna for a charge as well.

Baal Dan is an organization that benefits impoverished children (mostly orphans and street children) in Asia, Africa, North America and South America by supporting their basic needs and social welfare. This philanthropy was something that I am very passionate about and I was glad that while I was enjoying samosas and mango lassi, I was donating my money for a good cause and supporting a strong cultural organization on campus.

I really enjoyed learning about this philanthropy, enjoying Indian food, and watching others get Henna and learn the significance of the art. It made me happy to be a part of an organization that supported other groups on campus, especially multicultural groups in this time of tense race relations in politics. Just this afternoon, I witnessed a man on the South Oval aggravate Black Lives Matter activists and spew words of hate while wearing a Donald Trump button. While not much came of it, it was hard to see someone so publicly promote hatred and violence.

I am grateful to be a Global Engagement Fellow in a program that encourages learning about other cultures, and loving others though they may be different.

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TRADITIONS

11/16/16

Tradition in Asian cultures seem to be more important than in American culture–I have come to learn over the years. There are things that are just done without any real meaning sometimes, or if there is a meaning, we haven’t learned it, or it’s been lost along the years.

This morning I went to the Chinese Tea Ceremony demonstration put on by Confucius Institute. I could tell when I sat down at 10:20ish that I was the first person to come by. The three girls there were very excited to see me and they were extremely warm and kindhearted. They had come to the United States/Oklahoma not too long ago, and it was interesting to see how excited they were about serving me tea. They were dressed in traditional clothing(dresses) with modern pants and shoes, and purses sitting behind them. Coming to the United States, they did not try to assimilate themselves, and rid themselves of their culture. As I sat there watching them pour tea and whisper to each other in Chinese nervously and excitedly, I admired their fluency and it made me miss home.

As more people sat down next to me, they became more excited to share their culture with us, and everyone was happy to listen. When they served chrysanthemum tea, I smiled and thought of my grandmother, who made would dry and make homemade chrysanthemum tea. She is named after chrysanthemums too. It was also interesting to watch people be so interesting in something so simple as tea, from the observers and from the three girls.

I asked if the ceremony was something done daily or just on special occasions. They told me that older people might do this if they had more time. There were certain gestures/actions that were done in specific that the other spectators asked about significance of those acts. The girls didn’t really have a definite answer, but I knew it was just part of tradition. They told us a lot of things were done out of respect for the guests, such as serving the cup with both hands. A lot of the steps were very tedious and specific, and objectively, unnecessary in the whole grand scheme of things. Nowadays, people use tea bag instead of loose leaf, and just dump water it in a mug–even a travel mug sometimes–for their tea. The ceremony took much longer than that, but I enjoyed it. And I could tell the girls did too, if to just share a part of themselves with us. Sometimes something that takes longer is worth it. The extra time is compensated with worth.

Though I don’t think I’ll be using a terracotta or porcelain teapot anytime soon to make my tea.

“TAKE OFF WITH SUMMER”

11/15/16

This morning before classes, I attended the Take Off With Summer Information event at the Molly Shi Ballroom. The event was geared towards study abroad this summer, as Thanksgiving break is upon us, and that is a good time to discuss study abroad opportunities with families. This past Saturday I applied for the Organic Chemistry Program in Arezzo after a lot of stressing over the application. While the event did not do much for me in discovery of programs, I was able to learn a lot about scholarships that can potential alleviate the costs of study abroad programs on my family. I learned a little bit more about the President’s International Travel Fellowship (PITF) and how that might be a good option for me to find money for airfare. I also learned that certain CASH scholarships can be applied to study abroad programs. The highlight, though, was the crepe I made with an excess of Nutella and the free t-shirt I got. If you’re trying to get colleges to come to an event, free food and free t-shirts never fail to draw them out.

It hasn’t quite set in that in 7 months I could be in Italy. I have never been out of the country, but I have lots of dreams of travelling around the world. I am looking forward to using my passport for the first time, and seeing what it is like in a country where I won’t understand every word that is spoken. Going to this event excited me for the summer program that lies ahead, and hopefully, the many more study abroad opportunities that will follow.