I went to the contra dance in Norman on December 1st. Contra dance is very similar to folk dance, and going to this dance was a little out of my comfort zone. The dances were a lot longer than anticipated and I was actually pretty tired by the end of it. I surprised by the technique and moves that were involved in it, and I think that was obvious because a couple of the regulars had to help me quite often. I am glad that I experienced a contra dance. I think it’s neat that they are becoming more popular in Oklahoma and it seems to make people happy. Participating a different tradition or norm from a different culture is always something you can learn a lot from. I don’t have any plans on going back to one of these dances, but I am glad I had the opportunity to partake in Contra dance.
I went to the fancy dance concert in Catlett and the Oklahoma fancy dancers performed during the first half and the Siberian Natives performed during the second. The performances were great and I learned many new things about their cultures. They had the opportunity to bring the Siberians here because of the program, Peer to Peer, which was funded by the embassy in Siberia. The goal of Peer to Peer is to bring people from two different sides of the world together and connect them by what they have in common, which is being indigenous people. This helps preserve their cultures. The whole concert lasted around two hours and there was singing, dancing, and playing instruments. They also got the audience involved and brought them on the stage to participate a dance.
The most interesting thing I saw was the Siberian throat singer. A week before actually I had learned about them in my Language Across Culture class and I was really surprised the sounds they can make with their throats. It is a super low sound that isn’t similar to anything I have heard before. Hopefully the clip I attached works and you can hear the sounds.
As I have said, I am volunteering at Jackson with 2 students to work on their English. I always enjoy helping in any way I can, but at times it can be difficult to really engage them and find the best way to teach them especially at that age. They do not know what type of learner they are or anything of the sort. I have recently begun having them read stories while picking out vocab for them to practice through either pictures or writing the words. Additionally, the two boys have different levels of English so it is difficult to make sure one is still challenged while the other one is still gaining confidence in his English ability. Although this is a constant challenge, I am excited to continue next semester.
I had the opportunity to attend an OU Cousins event at the Kappa House to meet international students. I got to meet a lot of students I wouldn’t usually have the chance to talk with. Even though there was football on the lawn projector, most of the attention was on the cheese bread and the wings that were provided. When I first arrived at the event, I got to talk with two girls from England. Since my friend just visited England, I had many things to talk with them about, but the most entertaining thing was the terminology they used. We frequently had to stop each other and clarify certain words. I always knew that even though we spoke the same language that there were certain words that were completely different. It was just crazy to experience it first hand.
I was able to go to the welcome ceremony held for the arrival of the Tibetan monks during this past semester as well. I was intrigued to see what would happen at this kind of event because the last place I could have ever imagined Tibetan monks to come visit would be Norman, Oklahoma. I wasn’t able to stay for the whole event, but the Tibetan monks started with a blessing, which was then followed by a cultural Native American dance. The speaker explained the garb of the dancers that were about to come up. Another interesting part was when the public could join in the dance as long as you stayed with the appropriate gender. The monks happily jumped in when they were allowed, as well as some of the other audience members. In this way, it was strange to watch how these cultures from opposite ends of the world collided with ours in one place. I always love to see the acceptance and support of different cultures especially by obviously different people.
During the chat with the global engagement fellows I was interested to hear about others’ experiences while abroad because each was so different than my own. The part that stood out to me most was all of the different marriage proposals to people in a variety of different places. In Italy, I didn’t experience anything like that probably because I look similar to the people, I was in a large group, and it is a much more touristy location. I assume the locals were accustom to us and understandably did not have the urge to propose. I also was excited to hear some of the freshman’s experiences abroad and the travels of others before college because they were in a different environment than actually studying abroad. While they are both great experiences, it was interesting to see how they varied.
This past week I went to the discussion by an OSU professor over the different eras of graphic designs in Iran. Iran has a particularly unusual culture because of where it is located and all of the different empires that were present in the area over time, so there are a lot of different influences in their designs. The Iranian history was separated into different sections, first was The Qajar era, second the Pahlavi era, and then after the revolution, the modern era began to form. It was interesting to see how graphic design developed in Iran over time. Especially because this is not the common topic associated with Iran. In the Qajar dynasty, the main emblem consisted of the sun and the lion with a lot of influence from the Frech, and developed into a crest with many icons, and then today there is no specific emblem to Iran. Through the different eras there were different influences of language, which are present through the graphic designs. It was interesting to hear about how the Iranians began to use different ways to communicate through graphic design. With the earlier eras information was displayed through pictures and little writing. This changed especially in the Iranian Revolution. The people began to use posters to communicate with others and also through graffiti. There was a graffiti artist in Iran that no one knew his identity but he was famous for the work he did. This story reminded me of Bansky, an unknown graffiti artist in New York. It is interesting to see how the style of artistry can spread around the world so easily. With the development of words and images in the past, it will be interesting to see how it changes in the years to come.
The political situation in Brazil is extremely shocking. The military police, their foot police, is made up of a majority of black citizens. This fact is extremely interesting when the speaker describes the paradox within their states between the local police and the reaction with regular black citizens. She reports that there are multiple acts of racism against the black population. The speaker enforces the paradox further when she describes a court case in which the higher civil court, which primarily made up of the white population, ruled in favor of a black citizen who was discriminated against by a black police officer. This dynamic of a government was extremely interesting because I had never heard of something that contradicts it self so much, and especially being in America right now with all of the white officer racist allegations. Another interesting factor the speaker brought up was the play put on that was trying to depict the situation of the racism against the black officers and the black citizens. The play from what she described shows officers with white masks being racist against black citizens and then in the end they take off their masks and show their dark skin. The speaker said that this display represents the acceptance of the by the black society of the racist they face. Which is very interesting because many of the lower society, who is in fact at the highest risk of facing racist confrontation actually supports a higher regulation by the police. This again is extremely strange and interesting to me because I thought that these circumstances were impossible. It is still hard for me to understand how this dynamic exists with my experience and knowledge with America’s history. I do wonder what exactly aids these circumstances. Does schooling encourage this dynamic of police work? Or is it strictly where they grew up? Or is it the government officials at the different levels that encourage how it is? This talk has raised many new questions for me to research.
This movie was the beginning of a three day convention about Spanish culture at the university. I was intrigued by the movie so I went and saw it with a couple of people from my Spanish class. The writer was there and it was very interesting to hear what he was trying to do with the film. This movie was different than any other movie I had seen. Each 20 minutes of the movie was dedicated to a different day. Every day portrayed what it was like in La Havana for different people; visitors, workers, teenagers, the less fortunate, middle class, and upper class. Each story connected in small ways and really showed all of the different stories and culture present in Cuba. I was extremely surprised when the movie had Josh Hutchinson in it because this movie was not widely shown in America even though the interesting qualities the movie has. It is definitely an adult movie but extremely interesting. I am glad I saw the movie because it helped me understand the wide variety of cultures present in Cuba.