Russia and the Winter Olympic Games

When I was looking through the news, I saw that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Russia is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Not only are Russian officials and athletes banned from the winter games, but the Russian Flag and anthem will not be part of any of the ceremonies. But what I thought was interesting is that there is a loophole: if an Russian athlete is given permission to compete they will do so under a neutral flag and any of the medals won will not be credited to Russia.

The Doping scandal has gone all the way back to the London 2012 Olympic Games, and now the Russian athletes who qualify for future games will have to be under strict conditions (drug testing). This shares a powerful message to all athletes around the world, as well as countries participating in the Olympic Games.

In my opinion, I think that this is creating a path for clean athletes to be able to compete in the Olympics. It is important to implement anti-doping rules in order to protect all athletes. The penalties for doping were harsh, but it will be interesting to watch the Olympic games without the Russians. It will also be interested to see also see any news about next years $11 billion soccer World Cup which will be in Russia.


South Korea + United States

A couple of days ago I wrote about how I was interested in studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea for a summer program. But on the 4th of December, there was world news about how the United States and South Korea launched large-scale joint aerial drills. The drills came a week “after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.” President Trump even placed North Korea “back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism” (Reuters). I believe that the continuous threats that North Korea is making to the United States and other countries is quickly getting out of hand, and soon will cause a nuclear war.

A couple days after I had told my parents that I was interested in studying in South Korea, my Mom called me and told me about what was happening overseas. That was when I started to look into this situation, and although I hope to still have the opportunity to go to Seoul, I hope that it gets safer.

It is interesting to see what the United States does in relation to the ongoing threat of North Korea. I want to look more into what is going on, and keep on learning more about the possibilities. I will continue to see the news in hopes that there will be more news. Below I attached a video I saw in my History class about what North Korea thinks that the United States is like.

Video of North Korea propaganda: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6qF5NU-ehU

Information taken from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/us-south-korea-drills_us_5a24e93de4b0a02abe9212c9?section=us_world-news


Uncategorized

Return to Cuba – Film Screening

On the 30th of November, I attended a film screening of Return to Cuba. The film consisted of the main character, Barbara Ramos returning to live in Cuba with her new husband after she lived in Italy for 18 years. Throughout the film screening we were able to see a period of three years. The three years we saw were Ramos building her dream home, as well as what she experienced in Cuba.

Although in my opinion, I did not like the film. I am very opinionated when it comes to Cuba and how Cuba is portrayed to others. My Grandmother is from Cuba, and she was able to leave the country the year that Castro took power in 1959. She was lucky, and if that wouldn’t have been possible then I would not be here today. Castro is not a leader to me, he was power-hungry and I truly believe that he only worsened the conditions of Cuba. Cuba is a country frozen in time: the walls are deteriorating because they cannot renovate them, the cars are from the 1950’s, the technology is old, it is simply a country that has been untouched.

My Grandmother tells us stories of how she has not been able to see her family in over 60-years since the rise of Castro, and has also told us stories of the horrible conditions that people are living in Cuba.

Not only my Grandmother, but my Freshman year Spanish Professor is also from Cuba and she tells us the horrible conditions that Cubans face. She tells us that ever since the embargo was lifted and people are able to travel there – tourists are only able to speak to Cuban residents that the government allows the contact with (residents who are loyal to the Castro family). She says that the Cuban government has transformed the tourist areas into a “fake world” so that we think that the conditions that are lived in Cuba are not as bad as we would have thought. I am planning on sending her the film in hopes that she watches it and tells me her opinions of it.

In the film, Ramos says that Cubans are able to travel at free will. But what was not said in the film is that there are certain restrictions that must be met in order for them to be able to leave.  There is more to the story than what was portrayed throughout the film. I did not agree with Ramos when she said that “Castro is a genius” and goes on to praise his work.

When I spoke to my Grandmother about what I saw in the film, she first asked me her age and I told her that she looked younger. That was when my Grandmother understood why Ramos thought that way. My Grandmother believes that Ramos grew up in that system, and she grew up not working and having the government hand her everything. It is the system that she knows, and when she was able to see capitalism that is when she was able to criticize the other system.

Although I have never been to Cuba, I have only heard stories of the conditions that are there. I hope to go there one day to be able to see it one-on-one. I did not like this film.


Manos Juntas – International Group

This year, I decided to take a different route when it came to the international group I would be a part of. In my Medical Spanish class, a couple of OU students came in to talk to us about Manos Juntas and how their group volunteers there.

The “Manos Juntas” Foundation, located in Oklahoma City, is an organization that helps low-income people get free medical care. On October 7th I went for the third time to collaborate with “Manos Juntas,” where I helped in the pharmacy. Although, I really wanted to volunteer in the triage room, all volunteer spaces were full and the only place that there was space was in the pharmacy. Since there was an Oklahoma Football game  at 11 o’clock in the morning, volunteer spaces were less crowded. That’s why I found open spaces in the pharmacy, and there seemed to be fewer patients in the triage room as well.

 
In addition, in recent weeks I have volunteered in “Manos Juntas” three times and have learned many valuable lessons along the way. By volunteering at this clinic, I was able to obtain a large number of individual interactions with patients, take their medical history and review their basic vital signs. All the volunteers were trained and helped the foundation as much as possible. As I am already fluent in Spanish, I was able to practice my translation skills and new medical terms that I had to learn through my “Medical Spanish” course. Through this experience I was able to meet new people and interact with many different cultures. During the time I was helping in “Manos Juntas,” I was able to develop new skills and gain a new vision in the medical field. Although I will not work directly in the field of medicine when I graduate, the experience I had will be beneficial in my life and in my career. I am planning to enter the medical field of law that contains medical malpractice. “Manos Juntas” is a great tool for me, especially because although I am not certified, I was able to see patients one-on-one, as well as help at the pharmacy.

 
Community service is an essential part of every student’s life, and should be practiced. Providing help to those in need is a great opportunity to interact with different communities, as well as learn about yourself. Specifically, if we are talking about “Manos Juntas” it is a great opportunity for college students who are in need of medical volunteer hours or just want to help.

 
I am very thankful I was able to be a part of something like this throughout my time at the University of Oklahoma. “Manos Juntas” has made me change my way of thinking, as well as knowing that I should always be lending a helping hand.

Manos Juntas: http://www.manosjuntas.com/Volunteer.html


International Summer Internships – Information Session

On the 30th of November, I attended a come-and-go information session over the internships offered abroad. Specifically, when I first arrived I learned a lot about the CEA  Internships Abroad. I was told many things:

  • Depending on where I want to go, I need to look at what type of internship I would want to do. I spoke with him over legal internships and he pointed me in the direction of Prague.
  • I am able to tell CEA what type of internship I would want when abroad, and they go out and find the internship for me.
  • and, CEA provides a $500 waiver to all abroad internship opportunities.

After speaking with him, I decided to look at some options to be able to fulfill my traveling abroad requirements. In the room that the information session was in, my advisor for international business was also there. When I saw her, I was delighted and began speaking to her about what I should be doing and the course of action I need to be taking. I learned about a study abroad opportunity that would fit my schedule in South Korea as well as how she would love to send me to the University of Madrid for a semester to study. There are so many amazing opportunities that the University of Oklahoma offers, and I am excited to pick where I should go. I will be in contact with my advisor, as well as look at the options I have regarding my travel abroad opportunities.

University of Madrid Opportunity: https://oklahoma.studioabroad.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10018

  • You have to be a fluent Spanish speaker to be able to be in this program.
  • It is a University Exchange program (pay OU tuition and fees).
  • Courses are in Spanish.

South Korea Opportunity: https://oklahoma.studioabroad.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10108

  • Housing and tuition waivers are allowed for up to 5 students.
  • All of the classes are in English.
  • There are courses in Business and International Studies.
  • You will live in on-campus dormitories.

Shiza Shahid Visits Oklahoma

On the 28th of September, the Delta Gamma Alpha Iota Chapter at the University of Oklahoma hosted Shiza Shahid for lectureship. Lectureship is a program which only 19 of the Delta Gamma national chapters are able to host every other year, and Alpha Iota’s goal is to educate students about the importance of leadership and involvement.

Shiza Shahid is an entrepreneur and social activist who is the founder and CEO of the Malala fund. Shiza Shahid now has dedicated her life into building an organization that will advocate women’s rights and education.

Shiza Shahid began by thanking the women of Delta Gamma for having her at lectureship and told the audience that living “a life that is meaningful, and impactful is cool.” She continued her statement by saying that in order to do that “you must interact with people, and reimagine the life that you are living.” I was intrigued by this statement, because not only was she trying to relate to the youth that she was speaking to, but she was also giving profound life advice that she took and taught her all that she knows.

Shiza Shahid continued by giving the audience a brief background of her life. Shiza Shahid was born in a small rural city in Pakistan, where she was raised by her father and mother. She told the audience that her parents were very supportive and empowering to her life. Shahid also spoke about how she received a relatively good education but there were many social challenges that she had to face. Shahid spent her teenage years volunteering for nonprofits, and from a young age her mission was to “create a world less divided and more united.” After graduating high school, she received a full scholarship to Stanford University where she studied for four years. When she found out that Malala had been shot, she said that “there are points in your life where you have to choose who you are.” This really stuck within her, and she flew back to Pakistan to be with Malala and her family. She gave the audience a brief story about how she started the Malala fund, but wanted to get deeper into it through the question and answer part of lectureship.

Someone asked Shiza, “what is your mission for the Malala Fund in the next ten years?” Shiza responded by stating that she hopes that the fund becomes a catalyst for education and grows exponentially. Another question that was asked to her was about the education in Oklahoma. Shiza’s answer was intriguing, she said that public education is driven by politicians and that we have to participate in politics in order to receive change. Although it is scary, we cannot sit around and wait for change to happen but we must act and get involved.

Although there were many more questions, those two were the ones that stuck with me the most throughout lectureship. Undoubtably, Shiza Shahid opened up my perspective on an issue that I thought had no affect on my life. I want to continue the kindness and empowerment she brought to the University of Oklahoma, and I want to help in any way that I can.

At the University of Oklahoma I am a Delta Gamma, and this by far the coolest and proudest thing I could ever be a part of. I am thankful to be surrounded by a group of women who empower each other in being the best person they could be.

 


Foreign Film Club – The Kite Runner

At the next Foreign Film Club meeting that I attended, we were able to watch “The Kite Runner” which emphasized the country of Afghanistan. This movie is based off of a novel by Khaled Hosseini, published in 2003 and the movie was first screened in 2007.

I think that the movie is such a pure story that involves the lives of two young boys. Throughout the movie we see themes of friendship, loyalty, the effects of bullying, family, corruption, betrayal, as well as past vs. present. It was honestly a heartbreaking movie, which I believe that every person can relate to in some way. I highly recommend this movie to any person and would give it an 8/10 rating.

Foreign Film Club allows me to hang out with other Global Engagement Fellows as well as learn about the world in a cool and fun way. I am eager to return to Foreign Film Club next semester, and I am excited to see which other movies we see throughout the semester.

Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLtavGjAOJY

P.S. I also thought it is interesting that many of my posts this semester are related to Afghanistan.


Into The Mainstream

On the 2nd of May, Dr. Reinhard Heinisch of the University of Salzburg spoke to us about his research over populism. He was first introduced to us by one of his former students, who calls Heinisch a “commentator of world events.” Heinisch first began studying populism in the early 2000’s, and called it an episodic phenomenon in which Radical parties are advancing. I had no prior knowledge about populism, and rather, had no idea about anything he spoke about so this was a very informative talk that opened up another view of the world. Heinisch discussed that we live in an age of populism, and of course I had to go ahead and google the exact definition of it.

Populism: political program or movement that champions the common person, usually by favourable contrast with an elite.

Heinisch explained many of the aspects of the populist party, and the differences and similarities of them all across Europe – leading to the discovery that they are all very similar in many ways. He, himself, defined populism as that it can be a political style, a strategy, and/or even and ideology. As a political style, he said that politicians want to be seen as the common man. As a strategy, he said that it is the idea to mobilize and to draw the people’s attention. And as an ideology, he said that it is without a difference of classes or interest. It was a very interesting talk, especially when he began to speak about countries like Hungary where I have recently traveled to, or about countries where I am planning on traveling to like Austria.

Overall, this was a very interesting event that OU was able to give its students. I am very interested to learn more about populism and the political parties in Europe.


Mother of All Bombs – Afghanistan

On Friday, the 14th of April I awoke to news that the US military dropped its most powerful non-nuclear 11-ton bomb on eastern Afghanistan. The bomb targeted an ISIS cave and tunnel complex in Afghanistan and had a one-mile radius. The bombing caused great criticism and controversy from civilians in the United States. The bombing was to rid Afghanistan of militants who have sworn loyalty to ISIS which ultimately marked a dramatic change for the Trump Administration.

ISIS is a worldwide threat that needs to be stopped by any means necessary. ISIS has recruited thousands of motivated fighters who now cover thousands of square miles in Syria and all over the world. In my opinion, ISIS is barbaric and horrible. After reading many articles as well as watching videos over ISIS, I have honestly become terrified of what could happen within our world. It has become a war zone, and I am hoping that one day things will be different.

The most crazy part (well to me) about this is the fact that I had met the Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States a few days before the bombing. You can read about my experience with the Ambassador in my older blog. But because of this, I have become more interested and involved with the relations between the United States/Afghanistan and how we plan to stop ISIS.


Semana Santa

Semana Santa is a holy week celebrated in every Christian country throughout the world even though each country that celebrates it has its own traditions to celebrate this religious week. Specifically, in the post I will be talking about the traditions of Semana Santa in my home country of El Salvador which was celebrated April 9th through the 15th.

This by far is my favorite holiday to celebrate, mostly because of the traditions my family has as well as the traditions that are done in El Salvador. My country is well known for its street carpets or “alfombras” made of colorful flowers and colored sawdust that are created on the street. In the town of Concepción de Ataco, my family gets together and makes delicate street carpets which portray creativity and spirituality. Families work in teams, and by the time they are finished the entire town is filled with beautiful street carpets. The making of these street carpets represent one of the greatest traditions for the Roman Catholic Church, especially because entire streets all over the country are closed for this religious holiday. After the street rugs are made, it is used as a path for a holy funeral procession, which further symbolizes the dead body of Christ. There is an unbelievable amount of work and effort put into these rugs, and families spend there time together in order to finish them and do their part.

Even if some people do not participate in the making of the street carpets, civilians from all over El Salvador come outside on Good Friday to see the beautiful rugs and take pictures of them. They truly are a work of art.

Although I was not able to be there this year for Semana Santa because of school , I celebrated Easter with my family in Texas – but I did receive pictures of the street carpets that were created by my family members (pictured below),