SIDA

For my International Cooperation and Development class this semester, I had to do a presentation on an International Development Agency. It was a really interesting project, so I thought I would share it with the interwebs.

My project focused on SIDA or the Swedish International Cooperation and Development Agency. They’re a bilateral organization, headquartered in Stockholm, that funds development projects in over 35 countries around the world. One of their projects that I focused on is currently underway in a small town in Bolivia.

Sida partnered with a Bolivian organization called Agua Tuya to build a new water treatment facility. The goal was for the pilot community to become the first municipality in Bolivia to treat 100% of their wastewater by 2020. Currently, they are at 75%, so I’d say they are well on their way!

The water treatment facility is based on Swedish technology and half of the budget is directly funded by SIDA. My favorite part of this project, however, is how the plan was implemented. Before construction began, SIDA and Agua Tuya spent 6 months communicating with the community, educating them on what the waste management facility would do and how it would help them, as well as answering all of their questions and concerns. Even after all of that, construction didn’t begin until the community agreed to the project. I have seen so many examples of development projects harming communities because they don’t want the help or understand it. The dedication shown here to helping the Bolivians with their consent is honestly heartwarming. Even better, a local Bolivian woman from the community learned how to run and maintain the plant, allowing the community to remain self-sufficient, and they have already seen the benefits in larger harvests and higher economic output.

Agua Tuya is planning 14 more waste management facilities to be installed in different rural Bolivian communities, based on the success of this project.

Chile and the Mapuche People

I’m taking my International Area Studies capstone this semester! It’s crazy how fast everything has been passing me by. It seems like only a few weeks ago when I decided to bite the bullet and declare an IAS major, but I digress.

For my capstone paper, I will be writing about the Chilean Nationalism versus the nationalism of the Mapuche people, the third largest ethnic group in Chile, and a group on indigenous people who are not recognized by their country’s constitution. My paper is 20 pages on the history of the Mapuche people, from about 500AD to present day, and their relationship with their country, focusing on the social, political, and economic aspects of the topic. I won’t bore you with all the nitty-gritty details, but the relationship isn’t great.

Most of the contention between the Mapuche and non-indigenous Chileans revolves in some way around the Mapuche ancestral lands. These were taken from the Mapuche over generations and getting them back has proved difficult to say the least. That, combined with heavy anti-Mapuche sentiment and social policies, has led to a very tense atmosphere. Progress has been made in recent years, but it isn’t much and it isn’t fast.

My paper also focused on the growth of Chilean and Mapuche nationalism throughout these conflicts. It was fascinating to study how these separate nationalistic ideologies influenced each other over the generations they have coexisted.

Modern Societies in a Global World

This semester I’m taking a class called International Cooperation and Development, where we have been studying different modernization theories and how they apply to countries around the world. We just had our mid-term in the class two days ago and I’m surprised by how much I’m learning, and how much I’m enjoying the class. A lot of the material we cover can be kind of upsetting; we primarily been discussing underdeveloped and developing nations, how all the different theories of development don’t really work. But even with the less-than-fun subject material, the class is a blast! Dr. Morias is a really good professor, and she’s making the subject a lot more interesting than I thought it could be.

Our mid-term on Tuesday was over the development theories we have studied so far:

  1.  Economic Development Theories (Classical, Keynesian, Structuralist, and Neoliberal)
  2. Marxist Development
  3. Modernization
  4. Post-Structuralist/Post-Modernism Development
  5. Feminist Development Theories
  6. Critical Modernism Development

All of them have their flaws, but all of them also have good points. The best one, in my opinion, is Critical Modernism. This theory wants to let the citizens of a country determine the countries path to development, and doesn’t decree that development has to look like the western world. It is a non-elitist theory and it focuses on direct democracy and grassroots social movements. It isn’t a perfect theory either, but it gives me hope that International Development may be moving in the right direction.

 

International Bazaar

As I was walking to class one day this semester, I found myself wandering into the International Bazaar that the University hosts every semester. So, of course, I had to go check it out.

Every time I’ve been to the international Bazaar it is always really interesting, and this year did not disappoint. I tried to wander past all of the booths, but they were still in the process of setting up when I was exploring. Of the tables I did get to see, the Iranian student table was my favorite because they decorated it really well. It was absolutely beautiful! I also stopped in at the Turkish table for some trivia and treats (I wasn’t very good at the trivia) and at the ex-Yugoslavia table to say hi to some friends of mine.

Overall I definitely enjoyed the Bazaar, but it isn’t the same as it was when I was a freshman. My freshman year it was more of a Bazaar in the traditional sense: a market place where the international student groups were raising money for their activities. I think I still have some bangles I got that year from the Indian student group. This year it was more of an exchange of information. Either way, it was still good!

Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go…

Come on, you know you’ve heard the song.

I just got back from my first cruise ever (I’ve always wanted to go on one) and one of the ports we visited was Montego Bay, meaning that Kokomo by the Beach Boys has been stuck in my head for the past several weeks. Besides that, the cruise was absolutely amazing!  It was so relaxing that I never wanted to leave, and it helped that I felt pretty dang pampered on that boat too. The food was amazing, the events were fun, and the bartenders knew their craft! Off the boat was a different story.

Don’t get me wrong; I love traveling, and I had a ton of fun in every port I visited. However this was the first experience I had with being a tourist instead of a traveler, and I didn’t love it. Normally when I travel I try to fly under the radar and blend in, to see where ever I am in the same way a local would. But on my cruise, I became the tourist that I normally go out of my way to avoid being. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with tourism, and it plays a big part in the local economies of every place that I visited. But I can honestly say that I didn’t learn a single thing about Jamacia, the Cayman Islands, or Cozumel, Mexico that I didn’t know before this trip. I only saw tourist sites and did tourist activities. Other than that, the trip was amazing, but I think I’ll have to return to all of those cities before I can feel comfortable saying I’ve been there.

On the bright side, I think I can definitely say that I’d take traveling over being a tourist any day!


When Fulbright Comes a-Calling

I know I already wrote a post about Fulbright this semester, but I’m sure you can understand why it’s been on my mind.

My applicaion is open, and I have officially started on it. Let me start by saying, it’s a lot more intimidating that I thought it would be. I think that working on this application and applying for the program is something I’ve been planning for and thinking about for so long that, now that it’s here, I’m very nervous. So I’m trying to take it one step at a time, and I’ve made some progress.

The first step was, obviously, to pick my program. I’m applying for a study grant, meaning that I need to pick an affiliate university, and I’ve had one particular school in mind for a few years. But, before I opened my application I took one last look at all of my options and noticed a new program that had been added to the Fulbright website this year. Radboud University in the Netherlands is offereing and award for one student to work on a graduate degree in one of several fields, incuding a Masters in Medical Epigenetics. I don’t really have the words to describe how much it would mean to me to be able to study that particular science, and it’s not exactly a common program. Sufficite to say, if I get accepted to Radboud I’ll be going to the Netherlands, Fulbright recipient or no.

Since I made that decision I feel a lot better about the whole process. I still have essays to write and reccomendations to get, but I have faith that it will all work out the way it needs to. I’ve been working on learning a bit of Dutch with Duolingo to get ready, and I think I’m doing everything I can.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but I think I can do this!

For the Future

So it’s finally that time. Fulbright is approaching.

Dun dun dun…

I’m actually really excited! I’m applying for the Fulbright a year later than I meant to because I ended up jumping on the Super Senior/ Fifth-year bandwagon, but I think that I’m more prepared for the application that I would have been last year. I went to a Fulbright information session earlier this year just for kicks and giggles, assuming that I would already know a lot of what was covered from my compulsive researching. And, while there was a lot of stuff that I did already know, there was also some interesting background information that I had never paid attention too.

The stuff I already knew was the “important stuff”; deadlines, eligibility requirements, and application components. The things I learned were more relevant to the background and ideas behind the Fulbright program. I learned about Senator J. William Fulbright and how he introduced a bill to Congress in 1945 that set this whole program in motion. I had no idea that the program had any kind of history. I actually assumed that it was rather new. I also didn’t really understand the government’s motivation in funding this program. I thought it was a nifty idea and didn’t put much more thought into it but, in their own words, Fulbright aims to “promote international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.” Part of that was obvious, but I never knew that part of the intent was to foster goodwill and create relationships. It’s an amazing program.

I’m very excited to begin my application, and potentially become a participant in this amazing program!

Wish me luck!

Staying Globally Engaged

I’ve finished my study-abroad experiences for the Global Engagement Fellowships and, let me tell you, that’s a weird feeling. I’ve been done for a while but, for the last year or so, something has been bothering me about it. I finally figured out what it is, and I’m not entirely sure what to do about it. I feel like I’ve somewhat lost out on global engagement since I came back state-side. It’s been getting better now that I’ve been traveling more again, but maintaining a sense of international community is really hard here in Oklahoma, in the middle of the continental United States.

I think the problem is two-fold. Part of it is obviously me – I need to work a little more on keeping myself apprised of the goings on of the world, plain and simple. But I also think that the United States as a country is pretty insulated from the world. It’s really easy to forget about the rest of the world when you’re not in it. The States are just so darn big, it’s easy to get lost in them and forget to pay attention to the rest of the world. But there are always ways to improve if you’re willing to put in the work!

So here’s my commitment: I’m going to rededicate myself to my international group. I’m going to reapply myself to learning that second language. I’m going to go on the lookout for international news, beyond what the American media decides to share with me. And there’s no day like today to get started!

Model UN

For the spring 2018 semester I did my best to stay involved with Model UN as my international group. I claimed them as my international group in the fall as well, and I liked it enough to try and keep up with it. The meetings weren’t at a super convient time for me to attend, but I did my best.

One of the things that kept me interested in the Model United Nations group was the amount of time we spent on international events. I’ve been a part of a handful of different internationally oriented groups in my day at OU, but with this we actually took time to discuss world events and keep ourselves appraised of the state of the world, which was amazing. Even better, the OU Model UN went to a conference with other universities to simulate an acutal United Nations session. I didn’t get to go, but watching the care that everyone put into it was amazing. The coolest part, however, was putting on a mock conference for Norman’s middle and high school Model UN programs. Watching younger kids get passionate about international cooperation is probably one of the most inspiring and hopeful things I will ever see.

The United Nations is all about communications and I think that’s a large part of the reason I enjoyed the organization so much. I think that a lot of the worlds problems could be fixed, or at least improved, with better communication on a global level. The United Nations is working toward making that a reality, and it was really cool to feel like I was involved in a tiny part of that.

India Appreciation

I want to go to India soooo bad!

I have for years! Originally I thought I would study abroad in India (but that obviously didn’t happen). I just find their culture and traditions fascinating. The meaning behind everything their jewelry and dances and clothing is absolutely beautiful and I want to go loose myself in it! I’m hoping if I get the Fulbright that I’m applying for (application opens in 4 months! EEK!) I’ll get to take a vacation in India, since I’ll be so much closer than I am now.

So naturally, when India Week rolled around on campus I got very excited. I only had time to go to one event for the week (curse my jobs!) but luckily it was the one I wanted to go to the most! The Indian Student Association had their philanthropy last Wednesday night and it was a Henna night! All proceeds from the Henna went to their charity – providing housing for homeless children in India – so I didn’t feel bad at all about going all out!

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The girl that did this beautiful design on my hand is part of the Indian Student Association and we spent the whole time talking about India! She gave me tips on when to visit and where to go, she even suggested some new Bollywood movies for me to watch (after we talked about how awesome Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is). She’s pretty awesome and I’m happy to say that we are now friends! I’m super excited to watch some new movies over Christmas Break!