OU cousin story (cont.)

Hello world!

Remember when I told you a story about my OU cousin that ended up not being a story about her– and told you about Nikki, my Nigerian friend? This is my story about Nikki.

Nikki is one of the kindest souls I have met on this campus. She is always full of life and has a great outlook on life. She was born and raised in Nigeria and went to a private Indian school where only Indian students were admitted run by the high commission. When Nikki first mentioned that, I was completely confused. So I went to my friend Google for answers! Turns out the Nigeria high commission is actually headquartered in Delhi and oversees all immigration, trade and investment activities between the two countries. They build private schools for Indians living in Nigeria, but only allow those children to go to school there, which is. something Nikki hated about her school. However, she does claim she had good memories and met some good people there, so I’m guessing she doesn’t resent it completely.

When it came time to apply for college, she, like many of her classmates, looked abroad for options. She got into many good colleges and professional certification programs, but because her sister was already at OU, she chose to come to OU to study interior design. She is very active on campus and loves participating in international programs. I enjoy hearing her stories about her childhood with her sister and family in Nigeria and how much they miss it. I’m so glad I got to meet her and wish the best for her future!

Reflection #10

Hello World!

Prompt: Have you gone on an international volunteer trip before? If so, how did it compare with the criticisms of international volunteerism you have encountered? What is your reaction to that? If not, are you interested in doing international service in the future? Why or why not? If so, how will you approach it? What will you look for?

I have always found international volunteer trips very life-changing and is definitely on my college bucket list. I did not know of such an opportunity till I came to OU and the study abroad office. Although many students do study abroad in language emerssion programs or earn college credit through it, I have only heard of few that go out of nation solely to volunteer. While volunteering in general is a selfless act, it takes an especially incredible person to volunteer abroad. Volunteering abroad not only demands physical, but also mental and emotional readiness. Also, an ability to adapt quickly and give your best to improve a community you have possibly never met is a tough task, yet a very fulfilling one. These are just some of the reasons I find international volunteer trips attractive.

As mentioned before, I have been looking at World Unite, which I only found out about recently. They have plenty of volunteering and language immersion programs from both undergraduate and graduate students in numerous countries. Personally, I have been looking into clinical volunteering programs in Morocco, India and Israel. I hope to participate in one of those programs in the coming summer, and if I get that opportunity, I will be sure to keep you all updated!

Reflection #9

Hello world!

Prompt: Look up either a few of the staple foods or dishes or the traditional music of a country you want to visit, and describe why they are or aren’t appealing.

I know, I know I already did this prompt. But I loved researching and writing about Morocco so much that I wanted to discuss Moroccan music through this post. I will be honest, I think international music (other than Indian– can’t really call what I grew up with “international”) is really cool but I do not listen to it as much as I want. My dad, on the other hand, loves music. He is a strong believer in the fact that music has no language; and once that barrier is taken off, the tones, rhythm and all the neat sounds that create the naked music is blissfully enjoyable.

With that in mind, I looked up moroccan music. I was led to many videos of men in bright clothing with a round instrument in their hands. Those men reminded me of the Sufi dancers that I saw when I went on vacation to the middle east. Then one thing led to another and I soon found myself listening to very soothing Sufi music. I learned that Sufis are very common in Morocco. Sufi dancing refers to a series of motions, many that involve spinning facing up towards the sky, that are said to take you into a trance and bring you closer to Allah. In morocco, Sufi music is often mixed with traditional African rhythms. Both men and women sing and play instruments to create Sufi music, but I have not seen any women actually dancing to sufi rhythms. It is mainly just men that participate in dancing. Following is a link to the Sufi meditation music I found really appealing after clicking through various Moroccan music videos: Moroccan Sufi Meditation Music

OU Cousin Story

Hello world!

So funny story– this post is actually not about my OU cousin. I wish it was, but unfortunately, I never got to meet her. I was introduced to her via email, which allowed me to learn her name: Noemie Ntahonkiriye. We talked a few times over email. I learned that she was a transfer student (she did not say from where) and that she was a junior. We also realized that we both love biology, which is something I would have loved to talk more about. A few days later, we had arranged to meet for dinner on campus. Unfortunately, her phone broke during work and she could not get a ride home if she stayed back to have dinner with me. So she went home and emailed me afterwards. I understood the situation and wanted to reschedule a meeting but never heard back from her.

However, I did meet some other awesome international students on campus! I honestly wish I had spend more time with them (something I hope to do more the coming semester) but between all my classes and extracurricular activities, I prioritized my time too heavily upon other things. I did meet an awesome Colombian named Karen, who took me and a few other friends to a Hispanic party where I learned (using that term very loosely) how to salsa. I also met Nikki, who is a freshman from Nigeria, through my SAIV dance group (stay tuned for a post about her– she’s amazing!). I met a few other international students, especially on the international floor in the Couch residence halls, who I unfortunately did not get to connect with better. Hopefully, I get to do so and make more fun memories with them during the coming semester.

 

 

 

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Reflection #8

Hello world!

Prompt: Look up either a few of the staple foods or dishes or the traditional music of a country you want to visit, and describe why they are or aren’t appealing.

I believe in love. My love on earth is when food and travel come together, which is what this post will discuss. Since I have not exactly decided which country I want to study abroad in, I decided to just choose one from my general area of interest: Morocco. My interest in morocco was sparked by a dear friend of mine that got a scholarship through the federal government to study abroad for two months in Morocco. He spent his days with a host family, traveling, studying and writing about his time in Morocco (if I ever find the link to his blog, I will be sure to update you all! Although it was a while ago, I remember it as well worth the read). Within those short two months, he learned so much about Islamic culture and brought that passion back with him to college. He became an outspoken activist in the issues between Israel and Palestine and even went to Jordan for study abroad during college. His travel and work became such an inspiration to me, that I’m currently looking for an affordable study abroad program in Morocco.

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17-Moroccan-Mint-Tea

Enough of all that, let’s talk about food! From every popular recipe website popped out these two main staples of Moroccan cuisine (pictured above): Moroccan chicken tajine with almonds and chestnuts, and Moroccan mint tea. I looked over some recipes while trying to keep myself from drooling and it sounds really delicious! I have never tried the chicken tajine before, but I read it is made in a traditional clay crockpot called tajine, which is where the famous dish gets its name. The mint tea is something I have tried before, but I have a strong feeling the authentic Moroccan version will taste much better. Next goal: find a Moroccan friend and have him/her make me some chicken tajine!

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ISA India Night

 

 

 

 

hello world!

India Night was held on April 25, 2015 and hosted by the Indian Student Association. I had the privilege to choreograph and perform for/with these amazing SAIV members pictured below. Even though getting through two months of rehearsals and even longer hours of choreography was hard (to say the least) they all made it worth it! So thank you, SAIV!
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Reflection #7

Hello world!

Prompt: Talk about a book or movie that’s had a significant impact on how you view the global community or your place in it. 

I was never the one to get overly excited about political movies. The mysterious jargon, the stern white men in crisp suits, the corruption– none of it appealed to me because it never felt like reality. But on one family movie night, my dad brought “Argo” home. “Based on the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979,” it read in bold on the back cover. Just based on that line I could tell my family (except my dad and I) would all be asleep 5 minutes into the movie.

When the movie started, it immediately sucked me in. Maybe it was the cinematography, or good script writing, or the actors’ skills, or all the above– whatever it may be, that movie became my favorite political movie of all time. I will be honest, I did not know much about Iran. And I am not necessarily saying that movie taught me a lot, since it was taken from the US’ point of view. But it did fulfill what I suspect was the goal of everyone that supported its production– to remind people of what happened. Yes, the point of view is super bias and yes, from the reviews I read after the movie, it is evident that not everything is historically accurate. However, that movie really inspired me to look more into Iran vs. US relations, specifically into the Islamic Republic of Iran and the revolution led by Khamenei.

Overall, as aforementioned, I believe the movie served its purpose– to reignite the importance of Iran and US relations and get people talking about it.

 

ISA Holi

Hello world!

Today I want to talk about my favorite Indian holiday, Holi. Last year, the India Student Association at OU hosted Holi and this being the first time for me getting to celebrate it again after immigrating to the USA, it was a truly memorable experience. Here are some pictures!

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Reflection #6

Hello world!

Prompt: International students have many unique challenges and experiences on the OU campus. As you go through your day, think about and describe what would be different about each part of it if you were experiencing it as a non-American. 

To hopefully structure my answers to the above question better, I will walk through my typical college fresh(wo)man day and then express how any aspect of that would be different had I not been a native from the US.

I would first do the regular, nonchalant brushing teeth/cleaning face/showering ritual. Much of that should be the same for a non-american. One sort of weird thing I remember from my first days here was my fascination with the bathtub. To me, a tub was something you only saw in soap commercials: an insanely fair girl (India’s obsession with fair skin can be a whole another blog post) in a royal bathtub with gold claws and brimmed with bubbles. But in real life, there were taps, a shower head, a bucket and lots of open room to karaoke and dance.

Next would be breakfast and getting to class. An american/southern breakfast, I feel, would appear strange to a non-American at first sight. The crispy bacon and buttery biscuits with gravy and hash browns that have now became my favorite would definitely have been ditched on the plate 7 years ago. However, most of us can still agree on a nice bowl of cereal, or “corn flakes” as they are called in India. Furthermore, a non-American may be surprised by how much we use our cars in Oklahoma. I remember when I first came here, the amount of open road was scary. The Delhi I knew was polluted with motorbikes and scooters more than cars and it was very easy to stick your hand out the window in a traffic block and touch the passenger nearby (something I did–and got in trouble for– more than I should’ve).

After classes, a student might go to hang out somewhere with their friends. Non-american students, I think, could adapt to the coffee shops, parks, malls or another popular place to hang out depending on to which they relate better. Overall, I think life as a non-american student in Oklahoma would be very interesting and might be difficult to adapt to at first, depending on the age of the student. However, with a group of supportive friends and mentors, it is amazing how fast and relatively easy the transition could be.

Reflection #5

For this reflection, I don’t really have a prompt. I wanted to discuss a book I’ve read (twice) over the summer, which is significant because, if you knew me, you would know I never read a book again if it isn’t THAT good. I will try my best to not put out too many spoilers but forgive me if I do!

The book is called A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferriss, and it is one of the best books I have ever read. Most of my reading for fun involves mystery, a strong female lead or stories of immigrants like me. This book encompasses all three. It introduces the reader to Afia, a devout, modest Pashtun girl with big dreams, living at Smith College. Her brother, a brilliant squash player attending a university nearby Smith, who brought her to amreeka, has taken on the responsibility to “watch” her and protect her namus. The book focuses on culture clashes, honor and its different roles within two families from the opposite ends of the globe.

As suggested by the title, honor is arguably the most important theme in this novel. Through this post, I wanted to compare and contrast what honor means in a typical american family versus that of Afia’s, which is not uncommon in South Asia. **Warning: Spoilers ahead** When Afia “messed up,” her stepbrother felt that she had stained the family’s namus and pressured her brother into killing her. He believed only her blood could restore her family’s honor. To him, the unmarried girl was the kiln that held the family’s respect. Her mistake would first be blamed on her mother, who did not raise her properly. Next, the father would be blamed for giving her the freedom that put her in the position to make her mistake. Then her brothers would be blamed for not protecting her and would be frowned upon at their workplaces. Her younger sisters would not receive any marriage proposals. If the mistake is severe enough, only disowning her or her “accidental” death would earn the family’s honor back. I can say from firsthand experience, that this is still true in many families from that part of the world. Call it tradition, but I personally like to call it sexism.

This is unlike the honor seen in the American family in the story. Afia’s brother’s coach has eyes that burn through you and words that leave you with chills. She is the athletic director at Enright University, and only a dream in the eyes of the people of Afia’s village. A woman with so much power is near impossible to make in Afia and her brother’s world, which is the reason they keep her hidden from their family, even though she is, indirectly, the reason both of them are in the US. When she decides to shelter Afia from fear of what her brother might do to her after her “mistake,” she sneaks behind her husband’s back to do so. She gets so involved in their lives and even defends Afia in court against her husband’s wishes. This shakes up the trust and honor in their marriage. This is a completely different definition of honor seen in the novel, one that makes more sense to me than the one aforementioned.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to everyone seeking a better understanding of culture clashes and, not to generalize, but perhaps the lives that international students juggle.