Photoshop: A Game of Trial and Error… and Error, and Error…

 

This week, in PR publications, we tackled the task of beginning how to learn Adobe Photoshop.
Photoshop is one of the most powerful photo editing programs that exists, giving users the capability to essentially work photo magic. Photoshop offers tools that allow users to do numerous things, including merge photos, create shadows, and completely alter colors.

Photoshop is a valuable tool for the PR professional because it can be used to design business cards, letter heads, direct mailers, event ads, and other public relations tools.

Being that Photoshop is so powerful, it is no surprise that it hasn’t been the easiest to learn how to use. We began our learning journey with an exploration of merging images, in this case two pizza related images.

Pizza on Wooden Peel

Pepperoni pizza

It was a difficult task, and took about an hour and a half of replaying turtorial videos, and tweaking settings to get a realistic look. Eventually, I was able to put a pizza holder under the pepproni pizza. Hooray!

 

Unlike InDesign, the other design application we have used, Photoshop works on a pixel by pixel basis, so images have to be spliced.

Personally, I prefer to interface and tools available in InDesign. While the photo editing tools are lower quality, it offers a gridded guideline, and makes it easy to build images centered around fonts and business-type design.

Another of my challengers arose from trying to create works for a client with a really hard set brand. This week we are designing direct mailers for the University of Oklahoma admissions office.

OU has a very set in stone brand, with logo and color guidelines, as well as specific guidelines like what font is preferred for documents.

It has been hard to be creative while following these strict guidelines and creating something which will represent OU, not myself.

 

Montford Inn-Client Launch Portfolio

10 Client Tools for the Montford Inn

Sarah Smallwood

            The following tools were created for the Montford Inn with the goal of helping the inn showcase its luxury, comfort, and romantic southern touch. The tools are intended to show this through graphic design details and effective wording. The tools include building blocks for news releases and a feature pitch, as well as an outline for a speech which might be used to introduce the spa services which are still in the works at the inn. The speech is accompanied by eight potential slide ideas which would accompany its delivery.

            I have also included four photos with captions. These photos might be used on social media pages for various reasons, whether it be to have content to post and attract website visitors, or to showcase other details of the inn, adding to the photo gallery for guests to look at. The infographic is intended for social media use, as it gives potential guests the feeling of romantic comfort while highlighting the small details the Montford Inn strives to provide for each guest.

            I have designed two new possible logos to be used on business cards and in letterheads. The logos are simple enough to be converted into the black and white format as well. I attempted to portray the inn as a modern place to stay, while giving the feeling of prairie romance. The logos are also simple and eye catching.

            The last tools consist of a brochure and business card. I wanted to incorporate the use of color theory into these two objects. Therefore, I carried a splash of purple on both sides of the business card, which hopefully invokes feelings of delicate romance. I also intended for the information of the business card to be slightly compartmentalized on the back, making it easier to read for guests. For the brochure, my goal was to lure guests into the inn without flooding the pamphlet with too many photos, while also designing it to be clean and simple yet elegant. The use of a pale olive green gives the inn an inviting, homey feel, while the photos show the luxury and upscale amenities.

 

  1. Brand Story

Like a wildflower speckling the prairie, the Montford Inn has been spot of romance and comfort in Norman, Oklahoma since it was built in 1994. Ron and Phyllis Murray founded the inn to provide visitors with the comfort and welcome of the south, and so far, they have been successful. For over 20 years, the Montford Inn has been a sophisticated jewel of a bed in breakfast. Since it’s beginning, the inn has drawn the attention of acclaimed guests and dignitaries, from celebrities and movie producers, to professors and politicians.

With time, the inn has grown, adding rooms, cottages and services. It has continued to gain recognition for all the small details which create the atmosphere guests desire. Antique and one-of-a-kind decorations line the walls and rooms, cookies are always baking, wine glasses are filled, the gardens bloom, all coming together to create an experience that no hotel can offer. The inn offers various ways to serve guests, including hosting family reunions, weddings, and more.

The ownership of the inn has changed over the decades, with the inn now being run by the founder’s son, William Murray. Montford Inn remains a family-run establishment, and it still strives to welcome each guest with the same hospitality and comfort as the beginning. With the addition of cottages, each containing fireplaces and couple’s jacuzzies, the inn has begun to attract more and more honeymooners and lovebirds. The Montford Inn plans to expand this aspect of service, hoping to provide touching amenities and a romantic experience for visitors.

 

 

 

  1. 4 Photos with Captions

 

Hidden Hollow, a quaint, private cottage, includes many romantic amenities, including a heart-shaped couple’s jacuzzi tub.

The details in Hidden Hollow, one of the Montford Inn’s many cottages, leave visitors feeling like they have spent a romantic week in a prairie get-away.

Homesteaders, one of the many rooms available at Montford Inn, features small details and photos from the past, creating a nostalgic atmosphere for visitors.

The Montford Inn stands like a jewel on the prairie during a peaceful Oklahoma spring evening.

Warm light bounces off the teal walls of Morningsong, a peaceful room which rests in the corner of the inn, offering guests many windows and an abundance of natural light.

The teal walls and abundance of windows combine to create a relaxing glow in Morningsong, a corner room available at Montford Inn.

 

 

 

  1. Logo

Logo 1

Logo 2

 

 

  1. Infographic

 

 

  1. News Release

To be sent to:

Visit OKC- Tabbi Burwell

tburwell@visitokc.com

Communications Manager

Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau

(405) 297-8973

 

NORMAN, Okla. — The Montford Inn in Norman has announced plans to implement a selection of spa services to their bed and breakfast. The owners intend to provide a multitude of services to their guests, including massages and skin therapies.

The spa would be a romantic addition to the ten bedrooms and six cottages currently available to guests. The innkeepers provide a variety of room services, including stocking rooms with amenities, delivering food orders and insuring the guests’ needs are met. Breakfast is homemade and served every morning, and complimentary wine and cookies are laid out during business hours. Some of the guest rooms feature couples’ bathtubs, including one room with a private hot tub. Cottages adjacent from the inn provide a more secluded option for guests wanting more privacy or a romantic escape.  However, the Montford Inn owners are eager to upgrade the guest experience.

“We want to renovate one of the older upstairs bedrooms to create the spa area,” says Phyllis Murray, a co-founder of the inn. “Our goal is to offer guests and couples yet another way to escape from the stresses of everyday life.”

The Montford Inn was founded in 1999 by Murray and her late husband, William, and was designed to combine a sophisticated atmosphere with the unmatched comforts of a bed and breakfast. Guests stay at the inn for romantic getaways, business meetings, family reunions, or an escape from busy city-life. A stay at the inn is filled with personal touches that no hotel chain can offer.

The inn owners can be reached in person at the inn every week day until 2pm or contacted by phone at 405-321-2200. Interviews are best scheduled a few days in advance. Photos of the inn and rooms are available on the inn’s website, though the owners are open to new photo and video opportunities.

 

 

  1. E-Mail Pitch

Mark Codner: Editor for The Edmond Sun

mcodner@edmondsun.com

http://www.edmondsun.com/opinion/codner-supporting-transportation-by-train/article_a658e546-4d62-11e7-be42-f7f937b20db0.html

Dear Mr. Codner,

The Oklahoma City area is sprawling with growth, and the nation’s eyes are regularly being drawn to our region by our exciting features, such the Oklahoma City Thunder and the successful University of Oklahoma Sooners football program. However, there is a bed and breakfast just south of OKC, in Norman, which continually attracts prominent guests, from celebrities, to dignitaries visiting with business with the university. I would love to help draw attention to that inn.

The Montford Inn has a rich history of guests and a deep connection to Norman. If you have the time, I would like to arrange a meeting between you and the owners of the inn, so they can give you more details about the guests they’ve had. This would make an interesting story which would showcase the entertainment appeal of the Oklahoma City area, showing Oklahoma residents and on-lookers another taste of what we have to offer.

If you have any questions about the inn or scheduling an interview, please let me know. I look forward to further discussing this story with you!

Regards,

–Sarah Smallwood

Public Relations Student

University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism

Smallwood.SarahM@gmail.com

 

 

 

  1. Special Event Speech

Good afternoon everyone, it’s wonderful to see you here today. My name is William Murray, I have the pleasure of managing the Montford Inn with my wife and mother. I first want to thank you all for visiting us today to attend the grand opening of the spa services here at the Montford Inn. Our Montford Inn family has been anxiously awaiting this day for months!

This would not be possible without my mother, Phyllis Murray, who has worked tirelessly to run the inn and plan these new services. Phyllis custom-built the inn with my late father, Ron, in 1994, and has over-seen this jewel on the prairie ever since. Without her guidance, perseverance and leadership, the inn would not have been able to serve Norman these last two decades. She continues to work hard every day at the inn, making sure guests are feeling welcome and everyone’s needs are met.

Our family built the inn in order to provide a premier bed and breakfast experience to guests, and we are over-whelmed with joy to be adding to these experiences. The Montford Inn strives to offer a luxurious yet comfortable stay for the business traveler, or a romantic, prairie get-away for the honey-mooning couple. The inclusion of spa services at Montford Inn will continue these efforts, offering the chance for a small weekend trip to turn into two days of relaxation and pampering.

We are excited to offer guests an assortment of relaxing new options. The spa will include massages, pampering body scrubs, luxury baths, and soothing facials. These services will accompany the lovely touches already offered at the inn, which include couple’s hot tubs, complimentary wine, and daily homemade breakfast, among other things.

We are thankful for the many visitors who have chosen the Montford Inn as their bed and breakfast over the last 24 years of business. The years have been filled with joy and fulfillment, and we look forward to offering these new services to guests who visit our home.

Thank you again for coming today. Please enjoy the spa services and come stay with us again soon.

 

 

 

  1. Slide Deck

Slide 1

Slide 2 OR

 

Slide 3

Slide 4

Slide 5

Slide 6

Slide 7

Slide 8

 

  1. Brochure

 

  1. Business Card

A Reflection on PR Writing

At the beginning of this semester, looking at the long assignment list ahead of me on the Public Relations Writing Canvas page, I was filled with fear. I hadn’t had any idea how I was going to complete all of these assignments or how I was going to contact and find a client who would be willing to let me work for them for a semester. However, I quickly found that, while this class was certainly difficult and tasking, it was one of the most learning-filled college classes that I have taken.

This semester, I learned many things from PR Writing. The first of which is how to properly conduct research for your client. Students were asked to use an array of different research methods, including the Lexis-Nexis database which scans the internet and other databases for any mention of your client. This will be a very helpful tool in the future to gauge the market my client lies in and the competition they face. I can use this tool to perform SWOT analysis for future clients.

Another helpful skill that I learned in this class was how to prepare and write feature pitches and news releases for an actual client. In past classes, we learned the basics of these concepts, however in PR Writing we were forced to put these concepts to use in a real-life situation. This will help me in my career as I will not only know how to format and word a news release or feature pitch, but I will know how to find the correct reporters and media outlets to which I want to send my work.

My skills as a graphic designer have also grown this semester, and the design projects were the assignments which I enjoyed most in this class. I have had the opportunity to create an info-graphic, a logo/letterhead, a brochure, and a business card. Having to design all of these things with a coherent goal and theme in mind forced me to put more thought and time into my work. In the end, I feel more prepared to develop effective media tools such as these.

The only assignment that I did not favor in this class was that of writing a speech. The assignment itself was geared toward the assumption that my client will ever be giving an actual speech, especially with the use of a projector and PowerPoint. While I see the need to be able to effectively write a speech, I felt as though other classes have prepared us for this, and another tool might be more useful to introduce.

There are countless other things that I learned from this class, from time management, to grammar skills, to truly thinking like a PR representative. After getting a taste of the real PR world in this class, I am excited to move forward to continue learning.

Why President-Elect Trump’s Foreign Policy Scares Me

So far, it appears as though Donald Trump’s foreign policy will break the habits that the modern United. This post will detail one of my biggest concerns about the direction of Trump’s foreign policy, or what little of it he has actually specified.

In the days since his election, Donald Trump has shocked the world with his movements on the international scale. He accepted a phone call of congratulations from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, insulting the Chinese who view Taiwan as a renegade province. Since 1979, the United States has agreed with China and has viewed Taiwan as a part of China, not a sovereign nation.

Furthermore, he relationship between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nothing less than sketchy throughout the campaign. With wishy-washy descriptions of their relationship, meetings, and an open support of Trump from Putin, the world has witnessed an unexpected friendship form between the two super powers who have been at odds for over half a century.

Recently, the CIA released a statement claiming that Russian hackers had infiltrated various parts of the election in favor of Donald Trump, calling into question the integrity and stability of US democracy and the presidential election. Alt-right republicans seem to be supporting Trump no matter what, even if that means brushing off the possible involvement of Russia in his victory. This is ironic considering that for years Republicans had been the biggest critiques of Vladimir Putin.

On top of that, Putin has been an adamant backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a tyrant who has committed numerous human rights abuses against his own people in the name of maintaining his power. This is what scares me so much about the foreign policy of Trump, who says the way to defeat the Islamic State is to back Assad and help him regain power in Syria. In Trump’s words, “My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS.”

One only has to look at Assad’s opinion of a Trump Presidency, which he is looking forward to. In a interview on Portuguese television, Assad says that he and Trump can be natural allies.

“We always say we wish for the United States to be nonpartisan and to respect international law and not interfere in other countries in the world and, of course, to stop supporting terrorists in Syria.” These are the words of Assad, who calls the people rebelling against his tyranny terrorists, and in condensed words, basically says he always wishes the United States to stay out of and ignore human rights abuses. This is not a claim that the United States is innocent in the department of human rights abuses and war crimes, but how is the leader of the free world to support someone like Assad?

This will create even more hatred for the United States and the western world. Furthermore, focusing on helping Assad has recently shown to help ISIS, which was able to capture a Russian base in Palmyra while Russia and Assad were focusing on taking control of Aleppo. Because of this, the failing ISIS can possibly make a significant comeback.

 

The sheer ignorance, volatility, and pride of Donald Trump has so far proven him to be an embarrassing figure of foreign policy, and we can only suspect as much during his presidency.

 

International Event: Spain and Latin America Discussion Night

On October 21, 2016, the Global Engagement Fellows hosted a discussion group at Second Wind coffee, focusing on Latin America and Spain.

The discussion group consisted of students interested in studying abroad in Latin American countries, students simply interested in the Latin American culture, and a few students who had studied abroad in a Latin American country who were able to offer some wisdom to the prospective travelers.

I mostly spoke to Sindhu Garimella and Katherine Voss, two Global Engagement Fellows. Sindhu had studied abroad in Spain for a semester, living with a host family who was adamant about avoiding English in the household.

Sindhu explained how when she first arrived, being in a 100 percent Spanish-speaking environment was very tough, and she would have to think a moment before being able to respond to questions and have conversations.

However, at the end of her journey, she was able to have fluent and mostly unburdened dialogue in Spanish. In fact, she said a big part of the culture shock upon returning to the United States was being in an environment where she didn’t have to take a moment to translate and speak Spanish.

 

Hearing the stories from those studying abroad was both enciteful and intriguing. Before, I hadn’t considered studying abroad in a Latin American country but the stories of culture and their experiences made me consider it. It was very interesting to consider being placed in an environment where people actually avoid speaking English for the sake of speaking their native language.

In the United States, foreigners are often expected to speak in English no matter what. It is interesting to see this attitude reflected elsewhere, mostly amongst Sindhu’s host family.

Currently taking German myself, I’m excited to be placed in a situation where I can only speak German to communicate. I look forward to the challenge and the experience of having my world flipped upside down!

International Group: The Informed Citizens Discussion Group Fall 2016

For my sophomore year of college, I decided to shift from an international book club to a discussion group which focuses on diving into the deep issues of current events, both domestic and foreign.

The Informed Citizens Discussion Group(ICDG) is an organization on campus which organizes small discussion sections to spread awareness and understanding of pressing issues from all around the world.

I was initially attracted to the group because I have a deep-rooted interest in current events and global affairs. Since I was old enough to understand the dynamics of politics and related issues I have been drawn to talking to anyone and everyone about what is occurring in the world. Since starting college and with the introduction to larger classes, there have been less opportunities to sit down and have a discussion with a group of equally invested individuals.

I decided to join the Informed Citizens Discussion Group because I knew of a few other Global Engagement Fellows who were involved in the program and really enjoyed themselves. I signed up for the Wednesday time slot which held a meeting every Wednesday from 4:30-5:20.

The experience was exactly as I have imagined and hoped it would be. Every week I was able to engage in conversations about a wide array of current events. The group gave me another reason to stay up to date with articles and be actively involved in seeking out information about news.

Being the presidential election season, the discussions were definitely interesting, to say the least. I am glad to have been able to be a part of a gathering of students who were each so passionate about what they were discussing. Most of the students held generally liberal views, yet there was a pleasant sprinkling of differing opinions which kept the meetings from becoming an echo-box of reinforcement.

Discussions ranged from talking of Kim Jong-un’s recent theatrics to an in-depth analysis of the Oklahoma state questions which were on the ballot in November. We discussed the human right’s abuses being carried about by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, the cabinet appointments that president-elect Donald Trump has been making, the formation and rising prominence of the ‘Alt-Right’, the death and history of Fidel Castro, immigration reform and polarizing issues.

The discussion group taught me to sit and listen rather than thinking of only of what I am going to say next. It was interesting and exciting to sit and listen to 10 different voices and opinions engaging with each other. Some were very conflicting while others were reinforcing and supportive. Being exposed to differing thought processes encouraged me to be introspective, analyzing my own opinions and the reasoning behind them. Surprisingly I found myself taking a different stance on a topic by the end of a discussion session, more than once.

The Informed Citizens Discussion Group gave me a safe spot to engage in serious conversation once a week with no ties to grades or repercussions for having a lack of understanding on a topic.

I look forward to continuing participation in the group for the Spring 2017 semester, especially as the Trump presidency begins to take hold and effect the United States and global community.

A Response to the 2016 Oklahoma State Questions

The 2016 general election is just around the corner, in five days to be exact. Who would have thought the presidential election would come down to Hilary Clinton vs Donald Trump? It’s something out of an SNL skit, for sure.

But what is often overlooked in these elections are the smaller ballot decisions which have effects on one’s local life. The presidential election outcome is actually less likely to have an effect on the average person than local elections, obviously. In this upcoming election, there are state questions on the ballot which have the ability to drastically change Oklahoman life.

Allow me to elaborate on my views of them. The quick descriptions of these ballots were brought to you by ballotpedia.org and okpolicy.org.

State Question 776 was designed to assert that all methods of execution would be constitutionally allowed unless prohibited by the United States Constitution and designated statutorily by the legislature.  It gives the Legislature the power to designate any method of execution, prohibits the reduction of death sentence due to an invalid method of execution, and prohibits the death penalty from being ruled “cruel and unusual punishment” or unconstitutional according to the Oklahoma Constitution

My vote? No

The question would essentially make it so that Oklahoma cannot deem the death penalty unconstitutional. It would place the death penalty above the law, bypassing the system of checks and balances that keeps justice.

Furthermore, 776  is likely to be opposed by higher courts as soon as it is passed. Why waste the time and resources?

State Question 777 was designed to establish a constitutional right for farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices. The amendment bans any new law regulating or prohibiting an agricultural practice unless it can be shown to have a “compelling state interest.” That means any new agricultural regulations would have to pass strict scrutiny, the legal standard used for laws that deprive people of fundamental rights like free speech, gun ownership, or religious freedom.

NO. NO NO NO. 

A huge, loud, resounding, echoing NO.

This bill would make it so that “farming” is a constitutional right; any new laws and farming can easily be dismissed as an infringement on “constitutional rights.” If technology currently used by farmers is later found to be environmentally harmful, or inhumane, new regulations would be extremely likely to be turned down on this defense.

State Question 777 would allow an unchecked farming industry to develop in Oklahoma under the guise of giving citizens the “right to farm.” Big farming industries would be drawn to Oklahoma because they could claim protection under this amendment.

Think about this: ANY NEW LAW proposed to regulate farming practices would be held under the same level of scrutiny as new gun laws! I’m sorry, but the freedom to farm is not equal to the rights to freedom of speech, religion, and the right to bare arms. It shouldn’t receive the same protections as these fundamental rights. Farming ought to be regulated by ever changing environmental regulations, and Oklahoma shouldn’t become a safe haven for big corporations to farm without fear of checks on their farming practices.

State Question 779 was designed to increase the state sales tax by 1 percent to generate revenue for education funding. Of the total revenue generated by the new tax, 60 percent would go to providing a salary increase of at least $5,000 for every public school teacher. The remaining funds would be divided between public schools (9.5 percent), higher education (19.25 percent), career and technology education (3.25 percent), and early childhood education (8 percent). The State Board of Equalization would be required to certify that revenues from the new tax are not being used to supplant existing funds.

Yes. While it feels odd to be to vote to increase taxes, I’m confident this measure would be successful in improving education in the state of Oklahoma. It’s estimated that, if passed,  State Question 779 would add $615 million per year in education funding.

According to Oklahoma Watch. Org , in the 2012-2013 school year, the amount spent on individual students, at $7,912 ranked 49th in the nation along side teacher pay, which shared the same ranking. Oklahoma is struggling to keep and recruit teachers, even the ones who are educated at the University of Oklahoma.

While some claim that a penny tax would harm the poor, one also has to understand that teachers in Oklahoma ARE the poor. The students who are receiving one of the worst educations in the United States, they BECOME the poor. Oklahoma desperately needs this tax if it wishes to reverse the state of it’s education.

State Question 780 and 781: 780 was designed to reclassify certain property offenses and simple drug possession as misdemeanor crimes, and 781 was designed to use money saved by reclassifying certain property and drug crimes as misdemeanors, as outlined in State Question 780, to fund rehabilitative programs.

This is a simple yes for me, to both measures.

I don’t believe the state should be spending ludicrous amounts of money to imprison people for small offenses. The money saved by altering the charge severity would be used for rehabilitation programs, in turn reducing the amount of crime and drug abuse in Oklahoma, and in turn saving even more money.

Take these facts from the Vera Institute of Justice:

IN FISCAL YEAR 2010, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) had $441.8 million in prison expenditures. However, the state also had $11.6 million in prison-related costs outside the department’s budget. The total cost of Oklahoma’s prisons—to incarcerate an average daily population of 24,549—was therefore $453.4 million, of which 2.6 percent were costs outside the corrections budget.

Though some would like to say this measure would “legalize marijuana” and “make criminals commit more crimes,” it is simply not true. The measure would aim to rehabilitate and help those caught with small amounts of drugs, rather than sending them to prison, an expensive process which also has been proven to lead to harder drug exposure and abuse. It’s time for Oklahoma to fix it’s overgrown prison problem.

State Question 790 was designed to repeal Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes.

Coming from a Christian, I have to say, no. This is for a couple of reasons.

Being that religious institutions are already tax exempt, it doesn’t make sense for them to receive tax-generated money.

The state should not endorse or fund any one religion, nor should it endorse and fund any processes related to all of them.

Scholarships given to students who then decide to attend a private religious school have already been held constitutional.

Even if the bill is passed, the ten commandments will still most likely be removed from the state capitol grounds.

State Question 792 was designed to allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine. Currently these stores are prohibited from selling beer containing above 3.2 percent alcohol by volume, as well as all wine and all liquor. SQ 792 would also allow Oklahoma liquor stores to sell refrigerated beer and alcohol accessories (i.e., sodas, corkscrews). The measure would allow multiple beer and wine stores to be owned by one corporation (ownership would be limited to two stores per person if spirits are sold). Currently individual liquor store owners are not allowed to have more than one store. If SQ 792 passes, these changes would take effect on October 1, 2018

There is ALSO a companion bill which will go into effect if this bill passes, SB 383. It allows direct shipment of wine into Oklahoma, increases the clerk age for selling beer from 16 to 18, and establishes other regulations on the sale of alcohol.

Yes. 

Oklahoma currently has the strictest laws regulating alcohol. It is time for Oklahoma to drop the outdated laws.

Being that this practice is legal in almost every other state, the proposed negative effects on liquor stores are unlikely to be realized. Passage of this bill would make the purchase of alcohol more convenient for consumers and it would open the industry in Oklahoma. Liquor stores would be allowed to sell corkscrews and mixers, increasing the likelihood that customers will use these stores as a “one-stop” place for their alcohol needs.

The bill would also allow liquor stores to sell refrigerated beer, allowing crafted and specialty beer to be sold in these stores. It would open the door for Oklahoma beer makers, at a time when beer crafting is an up and rising hobby. Some crafted beers cannot be stored without refrigeration.

The only negative part of this bill is that it could possibly allow larger corporations to open chains of beer and wine stores in Oklahoma.

The measure would allow multiple beer and wine stores to be owned by one corporation (ownership would be limited to two stores per person if spirits are sold). Currently individual liquor store owners are not allowed to have more than one store.

While these stores wouldn’t be able to sell liquor, it is still something to consider. However, the benefits outweigh the negatives.

 

This coming Tuesday is going to change a lot for both America as well as the state of Oklahoma. If you’re over 18 years old, please vote. Don’t brag about not being registered to vote. Don’t let the mudslinging convince you that political action is arbitrary. Don’t allow yourself to concede to political apathy. If you’re not voting, you DO NOT lose responsibility for things that may go wrong, because you have the opportunity to make a difference.

Not acting on your right to vote is a vote for whatever side you oppose.

 

 

 

 

International Events: Khayyam Day by ICA

On Friday, April 22 I attended what is called ‘Khayyam Day’, a little celebration hosted by the Iranian Cultural Association at the University of Oklahoma to welcome the marble statue of 11th century Iranian philosopher, mathematician, poet and astronomer.

The two hour event included modern Iranian music, a renowned Persian calligrapher, a speech giving the history of the statue, and delicious Persian food.

There was a lot to say about Khayyam, a man who until that day I hadn’t any knowledge of. He was a great poet and philosopher, one who hated violence and sought self-enlightenment. The statue itself was created by a sculptor in the Lorestan Province of Iran, with marble from Iran itself. The statue took over 3 years to complete and find the marble for, because the master sculptor wanted it to be perfect and to represent the Iranian culture as much as possible.

The historian speaking emphasized how the statue like a symbol of a hand being extended to the American people, a hand seeking partners to be friends with Americans. The makers and senders of the statue wants the United States people and the world to understand that they too are like Khayyam, and hate violence. The speaker ended with a hope that that hand be extended back.

Now for the food:

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The food was both scary and exciting! On the top left are stuffed grape leaves, a dish familiar to me as they are one of my Armenian grandmothers favorites. Another familiar dish is baklava, a sweet pastry filled with simple syrup and walnuts. The pita bread was familiar as well.

Something that I had never tried before were tried dates. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I had no idea how to eat them! So I resorted to eating around the seed… it was delicious and very gooey. The wafer cookie was familiar to me as well!

My favorite thing on the plate was the potato salad. It was a mashed potato mixture with peas, relish, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and olives. I wish I had gotten more it was so good!!!

Overall, it was exciting and intimidating to be exposed to a new culture like that. It makes me excited for my study abroad adventures in the future.

The speech and the statue made me think of what is happening on the international stage, how the globe is looking at Iran right now after the Iran nuclear deal a couple of months ago. It made me reflect how the government one lives under doesn’t represent the citizens, and of how around the world there are people who live under governments that do corrupt things, and in turn are given sanctions and restrictions that harm the people more than the rich government officials.

 

International Events: International Movie Night

In the first semester of the 2015-2016 school year, the Freshman Global Engagement Fellows all had a discussion about sharing their favorite international movies that had either inspired them, or they had simply enjoyed. We thought it would be a great idea to socialize and explore foreign cultures, and who doesn’t like a good movie?

After much planning, the international movie night was planned for January 29th, 2016 at a small local coffee shop in Norman called Gray Owl Coffee. It is a locally owned coffee shop that features made from scratch baked goods and almost gourmet coffee. They also sometimes play films on a projector on Friday nights.

The film we chose was called “Wadjda”, a film about a girl in Saudi Arabia who wishes desperately to ride a bike in a society where it is deemed improper for women to ride bikes or do other physical activities. The film was proposed by Global Engagement Fellow, Britt Leake, a student with a deep interest in Arabic studies. After the film he explained to me how it was actually a very special film, being very controversial and only approved for production by a progressive royalty member.

As the night rolled around and we finally got the sound on the projector working, we began watching the film.

A few things surprised me as I watched the film which, as an American, I hadn’t considered ever to be acceptable conduct. The reality of life in Saudi Arabia was something that I had never fully looked into.

The first of which is the way religion is tied in with school there. In Oklahoma, it is sometimes debated and criticized how at beginning of the day in public schools, there is a moment of silence after the pledge of allegiance to give students the opportunity to “meditate, pray or engage in other silent activities”, with heavy debates centered around the word, ‘pray’. Constitutionally, the public school system has no legal justification for using that word or enforcing a moment of silence, however Oklahoma is located in a demographically Christian area of the United States and is consequently more focused on religious ideologies.

However, in the film, there were instances in which the whole girl’s section was brought to meeting so that they could be told that no flowers or notes were allowed at school anymore so that the holiness could be maintained, as a boy and girl had been caught during recess. Frequently the little girls are told to go inside and be “proper women”, as there are male construction workers on a roof near by.

Wadjda herself enters a school Qur’an recitation contest in order to try and win money for the bike she wishes to purchase.  It seems as though the entire female population of the school attends the event, and when she wins and mentions she wants to buy a bike with her reward, the female mentor refuses to give her the prize money and instead decides to donate it to “their brothers in Palestine”.

The forcing of the females to cover up or else be deemed unclean, the school wide Qur’an recitation, the separation of the genders to maintain holiness and cleanliness, are all extremely foreign concepts to me. I am a woman who walks around in shorts and a t-shirt on casual days. I love sports, I love working out. The gyms I attend are frequently filled with men who see me working out in a tank top and shorts. It shocked me to see a culture so utterly different than my own in regards to how my gender is treated, and it made me consider the feminist movements in the United States and the reception they would receive in Saudi Arabia.

Another aspect that shocked me about the film is the conflict between Wadjda’s mother and father. The father is looking for his second wife, a perfectly normal and legal thing in Saudi Arabia. His wife is heartbroken by this, and yet her father cannot see any wrong-doing in his search for a second wife. In the United States, polygamy is illegal. In the film, the husband is searching for another wife as if it is the most natural thing in the world.

 

The strong contrast between United States and Saudi Arabian culture opened by eyes to how entirely different the world can be. Until now, of course I had imagined that there were cultures different than my own, but never had I truly considered on in which almost every aspect of my life would be considered either illegal or extremely looked down upon.

International Group: The WLT Bookclub, January Meeting

The World Literature Book Club is a book club on campus dedicated to exploring foreign literature to give us all a glance at what other cultures and countries have to offer. So far I have definitely enjoyed the break from my STEM major to sit down and analyze a book, something I enjoyed doing frequently in high school.

For winter break we were given a long novel to read called The Three-Body Problem, written by Chinese author Liu Cixin. It is the first book in a science fiction trilogy, and was awarded the Hugo Award in August of 2015. The story line is basically that of an alien invasion.

 

My general impression of the book is pure surprise. As an American, I hadn’t really considered that something such as a detailed science fiction novel that critiques government actions such as the Cultural Revolution could come out of China. I was under the false assumption that the Chinese government regulated the output of creative materials so heavily that nothing like this could ever be published. So when I read the first chapter and saw drastic criticism of the government’s actions as they killed scientists and spread communism, I was utterly surprised.

The book surprised me further as it went on to showcase a powerful female figure as one of the smartest and most successful scientists in the novel. Being a mostly patriarchal society like the United States, I wasn’t expecting this out of China either. I hadn’t realized that progressive tendencies exist there as well.

The discussion of the book led the dozen or so of us to dwell on the tedious scientific detail that the author placed into the book, and yet he managed to do so in way that kept the reader engaged. We came to the tentative conclusion that, *spoiler*, as the aliens come to Earth and essentially are just as bad as humans, the moral of the story is that another reality isn’t necessarily better than ours. Specifically from the Chinese author’s point of view, so criticizing the government and the humans in the beginning and leading to the main character to invite the aliens, we found that maybe his message to the Chinese people is, “despite how we may struggle in China, the ways of the West aren’t necessarily better”.

 

The Three-Body Problem definitely opened my eyes up to what the international literary community can offer.