Global Engagement Day (GEF International Event)

Learn. Unlearn. Repeat.

Session 2 (Women, LGBTQ + Persons and Minorities Abroad)

  • don’t start a culture war
  • be prepared to be treated like a representative of the US
  • whether a visible or non-visible minority, know resources available to help
  • a group of people or a country is not one glob of preconceived notions
  • be aware that people will have learned history differently from yourself
  • translate essential documents (e.g. prescriptions) into the language of the country you’ll be studying abroad in

Session 3 (After Undergrad Opportunities: Fulbright and Peace Corps)

The Fulbright program provides for students research, teaching, and higher education grants to increase mutual understanding.

  •  follow through with the application process
  • be as specific as possible
  • familiarize yourself with current politics in that host country
  • make connections in that country to make your project feasible
  • think of how you will engage with the community while there and note your plans in your application

Asian New Year (GEF International Event)

Cue the dragons. 

The New Year had arrived, and only a night of delicious food, good people, and fun entertainment would suffice. So, I went with my friend Sarah to the Asian New Year to hang out and enjoy a live show with vibrant music, spoken poetry, and stunning dances.

One of the best things at OU is the cultural groups on campus and the events they put on. The most memorable part of the night was when they performed Michael Jackson’s Thriller as zombies. Expect the unexpected.

Model UN High School Conference (GEF International Group)

If you are thinking about joining Model UN. Do it. You won’t know if you like it until you try it. On that note, after going to the St. Louis conference and helping out at the high school conference, I came to realize the encouraging nature of Model UN. Whether at a club meeting, participating in a conference or even helping to chair a conference, it all goes back to diplomacy and the innate desire to help others as much as we can.

In St. Louis, I represented Iraq on the topic of energy. Every day was about maintaining diplomatic relations in the way we spoke and worked on finding consensus. The most valuable part of the entire experience was interacting with the other delegations.

More recently, the Model UN Club put on a high school conference. Being on the flip slide by being a co-chair was certainly a different experience. To co-chair, I helped with keeping track of votes, giving feedback on resolutions, and at times I helped moderate the delegates discussion. At the end of it all, I learned how to engage in diplomacy, work with others, be solution oriented, and hang out with some pretty cool people.

ASEAN Night (GEF International Event)

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”


From comedic bits to a fashion show to informative trivia and cultural dance/song performances, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations aka ASEAN put on a wonderful performance on February 8th, 2018. 

I got to sit back and watch fellow OU students share their culture with the audience. I also got to see some of my friends perform! Sarah participated in Thailand’s water festival dance and Don danced to represent Burmese culture!

The different dance performances were unique in their own way and filled the auditorium with energy. There were different costumes, dance styles, and music that set each dance group a part. The international events on campus, especially those showcasing students cultures are the most fun to go to!

Indonesia’s Global Engagement (GEF International Event)

Every day is a learning experience, but when I attend the IAS lunches, I feel 60% more informed and see myself becoming more globally-minded. That being said, I found it insightful to hear the Consul General Nana Yuliana talk about Indonesia’s foreign policy.

Though Indonesia became independent from the Dutch (and before them–the Japanese) in 1945, they are a rising economic power and a key member of ASEAN (the equivalent of the EU, but focused in Asian countries). Indonesia credits this rise to their principle of being “independent and active” through which they believe diplomacy and individual-individual communication between Indonesian students and American students will resolve the people-people misunderstanding.

Dr. Yuliana also mentioned Indonesia’s current priorities: 1)Economic diplomacy 2)Maritime diplomacy 3)Protection of Indonesian citizens and their legal entities overseas 4)Take an active role in the international forum. Current challenges to these include the South China Sea issue, conflict in the Korean Peninsula, terrorism, etc.

It never ceases to amaze me how much my studies have given me so much background to lectures such as these. For instance, my 19th-century intellectual history class led me to think about the democracy model and the different perspectives regarding it versus other models, and my Understanding the Global Community class forced me (haha:) to think about how different states interact with each other and what causes them to act in such ways. I look forward to doing personal research– particularly regarding Indonesian culture.

Nana Yuliana. “Lecture on Indonesia’s Global Engagement with the US Lunch”. The University of Oklahoma. October 30, 2017.

Angolan Cultural Night (GEF International Event)

A fellow GEF, my friend Sarah, invited me to go to the Angolan Cultural Night. After aimlessly walking for at least 20 minutes, we somehow found the Angolan Cultural Night. There was incredibly good food, not to mention an outstanding show!

People poured the hearts on the stage and I was awestruck at the talent and the unspoken communication of Angolan culture through song, dance, and poetry.

One guy even did a martial arts performance! My favorite part of the show was the fashion show and the last act where they danced and got the audience to join them. It was one of the best ways to spend a Friday night.

FSO in residence: Importance of Language and Culture (GEF International Event)

Advice from OU’s Diplomat in Residence

  1. “Do the hard stuff”
    • Peace Corps, ROTC, Study Abroad: Immersion Programs
  2. Scoring an internship
    • Paid→ Pathways recruits minorities
    • Unpaid→ Over the summer
  3. Steps to become an FSO (Foreign Service Officer): 1)Written Test 2)Personal Narratives 3)Oral Assessment
    • Prepare early
    • Be a well informed citizen
    • Accumulate experience and skills
    • Strive to improve your character
    • Bottom line: Read. Write.
  4. FSO as a career
    • It’s a lifestyle
    • Everyone does consular work
    • You’re constantly learning
      1. Foreign Service Institute: will pay you to learn languages
    • You represent Americans
  5. Attain high fluency in a language
    • Order of current language recruitment by State Department: 1) Spanish 2)Chinese and Portuguese 3)Arabic and Russian (subject to change)
  6. https://careers.state.gov WILL BE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ALLY
    • This is the information hub regarding internships, career paths, and advice in the State Department

Kristin Stewart. “The Importance of Language and Culture in the Foreign Service”. The University of Oklahoma. September 6, 2017.

Model UN (GEF International Group)

Today, I learned from tiny humans. Even though I’ve been a part of Model United Nations for the bulk of this first semester, I didn’t have the first clue about pretty much anything. Now, I (at least) think I do. The Executive Committee put together a Model UN conference for Middle Schoolers where I saw these kids debate, use parliamentary procedure, and caucus with each other. My understanding of Model UN has finally come full circle.

My role as Secretariat Staff allowed me to circulate around during caucusing to help facilitate discussion. But, I think I learned more from the middle schoolers than they did from me. I was surprised at how much the kids didn’t need our guidance. I’ll be sticking with Model UN because of how we get to learn about how countries interact at the international level and how you are put into situations where you must debate, collaborate, and practice public speaking. I’m excited to see how this year goes.

Teaching Overseas (GEF International Event)

Why should you consider teaching English abroad? To gain experience, soul search, have a productive gap year, pay off student loans, save money, learn a language, and try your hand at teaching. The great news is that any major can do this and little-none knowledge of a language is needed. Due to the presence of English as a lingua franca, English teaching programs can be found in most countries.

The highest demands for English teachers are in 1)Taiwan, China, Korea 2)Japan, Việt Nam, Thailand 3)Portugal, Spain 4)Russia. Majors in demand include 1)linguistics/foreign language majors 2)STEM and special education 3)sociology.

  1. Types of programs
    • CRAM schools or after school (teach in the afternoon)
    • International school
    • Professional (Business– private tutoring)
    • Bonus: can take university classes for cheap (eg Taiwan)
  2. Certification/License needed? Depends.
    • Most require only a bachelor’s degree, passport, and resume
  3. Getting a leg up
    • Experience: CASP, tutor, volunteer
    • Certification: CETL, etc.
    • Necessity: excited attitude and desire to teach in your audition demo
  4.  Books
    • TEFL
    • Teaching English Abroad
    • The New Tales from International School Teachers
  5. Websites

Expose yourself to different events/talks/activities on campus. Even ones that you’re only mildly interested in. I’d never considered teaching English abroad or even thought about being a teacher. But listening to Diamond talk about her experiences and the meaning she found in her work, made me question why I’d never thought about doing it before. Teaching English abroad isn’t a commitment to becoming a teacher. Instead, it is an opportunity to teach, meet new people, explore new places, and figure out (or confirm) what you love to do. It can be the jumping off point for your career or a productive (or fun) gap year. That part is up to you.

Diamond Andress. “Fill the Gap: Teach English in a Foreign Country After You Graduate”. The University of Oklahoma. September 2017.