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 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.
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.
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
This 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.
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.
Traveling is all I want to do with my life, and after learning that there was going to be a study abroad fair I wrote the date and time down immediately in my agenda. I was so excited to see what opportunities the University of Oklahoma gave to their students (especially me). Although this blog post is slightly delayed, I wanted to talk about my experience at the study abroad fair.
Study Abroad Fair
First of all, I want to say that the University of Oklahoma offers ENDLESS amounts of opportunities. I was blown away by the amount of tables and people at the fair in the south oval. I ended up with about 20 brochures, and a lot of information regarding what opportunities I am interested in. Throughout the fair, I became very interest in these specific countries:
I talked to individuals about the journey programs that the University offered, and I also talked to individuals about Arrezo, Italy and Spain (specifically Alcalá). I spoke to individuals about what I want to do with my life, and how I want to minor in Spanish. They gave me a lot of information, and my next step was setting up an advising appointment. But what I am most interested in is spending a Semester at Sea.
Semester at Sea
I first became aware of this program when one of my good friends signed up for it and got accepted into it early last year. Spending a Semester at Sea is a dream of mine, and I hope that sometime throughout my college career I will be a part of this. When I saw the booth of Semester at Sea at the Study Abroad Fair I ran to it and asked the girl so many questions regarding how I could be a part of it. Ever since then, I have continually looked into it and have been planning on how I will get to be a part of it.
Overall, I am amazed by the opportunities that the University of Oklahoma gives and I cannot wait to study abroad. The study abroad fair is
safe travels, ale
After attending the organization and club fair at the beginning of the school year, I decided to sign up for many international clubs thinking that it was going to be easy for me to keep track of them all. First, let’s see which organizations I joined that day:
- Sooners without Borders
- OU Pre Law Society
- OU Cousins
- Hispanic American Student Association
- The Big Event
Now, let’s see which organizations I was able to keep track of my first semester of college and what happened to the ones I joined but failed to be in.
- Sooners without Borders – never looked into it.
- OU Pre Law Society – went to one meeting.
- OU Cousins – my cousin never wanted to hang out.
- Hispanic American Student Association – went to one meeting.
- Soonerthon – in it.
- The Big Event – in it.
- Foreign Film Club – new organization which I happily joined and is the organization that I am using for my International Club for Global Engagement Fellowship.
Foreign Film Club
I first got an email about this club a couple of weeks ago and saw that many of my fellow GEF’s were a part of it. After happily joining it, we decided on a meeting date and a movie. We watched the Brazilian movie “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation” in Portuguese. I thought this was a really cool and fun club to be a part of and to learn more about the world in. It was really cool to see a foreign movie, and I am excited to attend the next meeting. I am very happy that I joined the Foreign Film Club.
P.S. (The next meeting is on Thursday, January 19th, 2017)
On the 10th of August, I moved to Norman to continue my education at the University of Oklahoma (Boomer). I was happy to say that I was also accepted into the Global Engagement Fellowship program here which gave me a scholarship to be able to travel abroad twice throughout my four years here. Because of this program, I am dedicating many of my blogposts to it and to my life in Norman.