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),


Refugee Crisis – An Unimaginable Life

Day after day thousands of refugees cross the Aegan Sea in search for a better life, and just from 2015 to 2016 there were a total of 600,000 people/refugees who crossed the Syrian borders. Children hospitals are filled with refugee children with no parents, and families are separated.

On the 13th of April I attended an international event called “Journey to Europe: Perspectives on the Refugee Crisis,” which was a Film Screening of 4.1 Miles followed by lectures with Dr. Mitchell Smith, Dr. Mark Raymond and MAIS Graduate Student, Stefanie Neumeier. The short film portrays a Greek coast guard captain who was given the task to save thousands of refugees who are crossing the Aegan Sea. This award winning film was shocking to me, mostly because what I was able to see something that I never imagined could be happening on the other side of the world.

Dr. Smith was the first expert to speak after the film was presented, and he noticed how the entire room was speechless. It was hard to formulate words, but Dr. Smith specifically caught my attention when he said that the film “powerfully humanizes the refugee image in a world where we are threatened by our own security.” He spoke about the security of Europe, and how the EU is trying to reduce the flow of refugees. Security is one of the most important factors a nation faces, and Smith asked the question, “why are we so obsessed with our own security?” Although he gave us a few seconds to think about it, he quickly responded by saying that “our perceptions are based upon populous politics” and that “politicians take advantage of the people’s fears.” But Dr. Smith did provide an answer, which is that there needs to be a call for leadership and courage from every individual. Germany is experiencing a lot of criticism in regards to refugees and opening up their borders.

Dr. Raymond was the second expert to speak, and he wanted to echo what Dr. Smith said but he also wanted to focus on more of a historical perspective. Human history is a history of migration, and we have been migrating ever since the dawn of human rights. He focuses on the fact that what is new now is that we tightly control migration and borders, and it mostly has to do with nationalism and the technology we have present. Dr. Raymond specifically caught my attention when he stated that fleeing is one of the worst situations in the world, and 145 of 195 countries are parties to the 1951 International Refugee Treaty. Dr. Raymond said that a refugee is someone outside of their own country and cannot return to it due to a well founded fear of persecution due to gender, religion, race, etc. It is primarily due to this that there are 21.3 million refugees in the world. He ended his lecture by speaking about the help that the United States is giving and that “we are allowing the burden to rest on some of the poorest countries in the world,” and because of this we are being short sighted, selfish, and foolish. It is a humanitarian failure.

Furthermore, it was an amazing lecture and it has made me want to research the refugee crisis more. I hope that one day there will be peace in the world.


Hamdullah Mohib Visits Oklahoma

Hamdullah Mohib is an Afghan diplomat who is currently serving as Afghan ambassador to the United States. The University of Oklahoma was lucky enough to host a reception for him, and invited students to come and meet him . At the reception, he first spoke about the foundation of Afghanistan and gave the audience more detail as to who he is and why he came to visit. Then he was able to answer questions from the audience.

Mohib starts by giving us details about the Afghan parliament and how they have grown from 3 diplomats to 45 diplomats. He tells us that the problems that Afghan is facing are real rather than abstract, and also explains how the United States have been one of the biggest influences for them. Today Afghanistan is a democracy, and although the parliament is not exactly where he wants it to be, he stated that they have a foundation which will allow them to achieve it. Mohib wants to give the Afghan people a chance to redefine the future, and that is why he wants to help implement a strong plan. One of the things that stuck out to me the most is that his family fled Afghanistan when the Soviets took over. Eventually, they returned and he was asked the question, why? He explained to the audience that there is no place like home, and his generation is determined to rebuild and end the war.

Mohib then says, “I encourage you to take full advantage of your time here at the University to learn as much about the world as you can. It is a very global world now…and it is easy to learn about other countries.”

Mohib showed strong leadership, and I was impressed with every word he spoke. I was mostly able to learn about international relations during the question and answer part of the reception. A professor who teaches Persian at the University of Oklahoma asked the question of how students who are studying Persian should practice the language, and Mohib responded by saying that yes he encourages it but to wait until the security plan is finalized. He also told the professor that in the meantime her students should use the resources online to practice the language.

Another question Mohib was asked related to the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He stated that the situation is unfortunate and that terrorism has hurt the Pakistani people. But in the end, Afghanistan wants peace for themselves as well as their neighbors. Similarly, he was asked about the relationship between Israel and Afghanistan. He explained that as soon as the issues between Israel and Palestine are done then there will be no issue.

Mohib ended the Q&A by emphasizing that Afghanistan “will not give in to terrorism,” and that “the country will not be ruled by terrorists.” Afghans are proud that they are fighting for a better country.

Undoubtably, I was able to learn about international relations and some of the affects they have on other nations. I really enjoyed hearing Hamdullah Mohib speak at the University of Oklahoma, and I hope that next time he is here there will be a positive change in Afghanistan.

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Cabo Wabo my dude.

After high school graduation, my future roommate (current one) and I decided to take an international trip together before we both moved to college. After extensively looking at locations, we decided on taking a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

This was going to be her first time traveling outside of the country, and although I have many times before, this was my first time traveling without one of my family members. Many firsts. One of the things that helped me out a lot was the fact that I know fluent Spanish so I could get around the city well. We stayed in an all-inclusive hotel in Mexico and spent five days at the beach at a Riu hotel. Everything was paid for, and my roommate and I spent five days eating and tanning.

But what was so great about this experience? My roommate and I wanted to travel outside of the hotel and actually experience the city life of Cabo.

  • The Marina – the marina was beautiful and we had lunch there. Fresh sea food? Yum.
  • The City – we took a taxi into the city which was about a ten minute drive. In the city, we walked around and went to many shops where we bartered for many items. The city was a crazy experience because it was a culture shock to my roommate, but it was similar to El Salvador for me.
  • El Arco de Cabo San Lucas – we got a water taxi (which I bartered the price) and took it to the famous Arch. It was stunning, and surreal.

Cabo was an experience of a lifetime,  and I am so happy that I got to experience it with my roommate before we moved to college together. It was from this moment that we decided that we wanted to travel together and are now looking at possibilities through the University.

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Back to my home roots.

El Salvador is a small country located in Central America. I am from here. I am from the rainforests, I am from the beautiful black sand beaches, I am from the indigenous culture, I am from the exotic food.

After graduating high school, my family asked me what I wanted as a gift and it was to go back to my home roots. I ask this because I have not seen my family in many years and I thought that it would be a great way to spend the summer before I go off to college. I was born in Ahuachapán, El Salvador which is about a two hour car ride from the capital of the country. I spent most of my time in three cities: San Salvador, Ahuahchapán, and Ataco.

Concepción de Ataco

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThis is my absolute favorite place, and I spend mostly the weekends there because my family owned a beautiful artistic shop there. The city is tiny, with a stunning picturesque view. All of the walls are painted by my Aunt Christina and they hold a variety of colors. The whole town feels as if it was off of a movie. The streets are filled with shops and people bartering, there is a scent of fire-wood in the air, and there children, families, and tourists everywhere. Kids are riding their horses around, and people are painting beautiful artwork on the streets. This town is absolutely beautiful, and it continually amazes me how it gets better each time I visit. I am happy to say that I will always have a home here, and that it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Going back to my home roots was very humbling for me, and I am very happy I got to do this before I went off to college. Being from El Salvador has opened up a perspective for me that many people are never to gain in a lifetime.

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A Mock Trial On My Life

Ever since I was in primary school, my dream has been to become a lawyer of some sort. In high school, I began to take many law classes that my school offered and began preparing myself for what my life would be like in a couple of years. Now I am at the University of Oklahoma and I walk past the Law School everyday hoping that one day I will be accepted into it and become a lawyer through it. I use it as motivation.

So several weeks ago I came across an email that talked about an International and Area Studies Career Prep and Networking Fair. At first, I thought it sounded interesting but was not sure if I could get any use out of it. After contemplating to myself, I decided that I should attend it and give it a chance. I am not an IAS major, but I knew that it could be beneficial to me in the long-run. After walking around for a few minutes, I finally came across something that sparked up my interest and it was the OU Pre-Law Society booth. The field of law is what I am most interested in as my future college career, and I loved being able to talk to fellow students about it and tell them what my interests are.

I am most interested in International Law and Immigration Law. I have had many international experiences which has made me want to continue traveling and exploring the world which is why I think International Law would be a great fit for me. After talking to some students at the IAS Career Prep and Networking fair I suddenly got more hopeful and more motivated to do what I love and study to become a lawyer. I am now more motivated then ever, and I hope that one day I am able to achieve my goals. I am a part of the OU Pre-Law Society now, and I plan to attend all the meeting that I am able to attend.

I love knowing what I want to do with my life, and the University of Oklahoma offers so many opportunities that continually help me mature into a better student/person. I am so thankful that I can partake in such amazing things, and I cannot wait until I get accepted into Law School.


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