GEF Posts Fall 2016

1. I’m still in awe that something so awful took place in and around Paris yesterday. Almost a year and a half ago, I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend a concert at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, the stadium outside of which multiple explosions took place. For one part of the multi-faceted attack to have taken place there yesterday is hard to believe, you know? While having a certain level of precaution will always be important, I believe that it’s also important that we continue to choose not to live in fear. May we pray for peace, not only in Paris, but for peace in the hearts of all global citizens that empathize with the victims of tragic events such as these.


2. After reading “If It Happened There … America’s Annual Festival Pilgrimage Begins”, it got me thinking about how different American society differs so greatly from that of other countries. For example, Americans in general are stupidly idealistic regarding the power that the United States holds over the rest of the world. Instead of understanding that the U.S. is lacking in many valuable areas, like quality of education, and that it is one of the highest in other areas, like incarceration rates, plenty of Americans are still quick to say, “America is the best country in the world!”

Similarly, it is clear through this article that even American media can regard countries besides the U.S. as inferior. This is a major problem, especially as other economies continue to surpass America’s. Ultimately, it highlights that all Americans have a responsibility to be aware of international events.


3. “The World Is As Big Or As Small As You Make It”, a short film published by the Sundance Film Institute, highlights the fact that technology can bring the world together. By using electronic devices, students from all over the world can connect with kids close to their age that live in another country. Despite the boundaries that one might think would keep hese kids from relating to each other, they are able to relate culturally, socially, and through mutual curiosity. By sharing each other’s cultures and surroundings, programs such as these help make the world seem quite small after all.


4. The European migrant crisis is dire. Surely that has been drilled into our brains following the barrage of graphic images in the media and the broad coverage of the crisis overall, but it is so interesting that, after such sympathy was shown for those who died trying to make a better life for themselves, Americans are drawn to look away. After the rise in Islamic State-related attacks internationally, it has become nearly impossible for any refugee to enter the United States without scrutiny or controversy. I believe that, although the possibility of a terrorist emerging from a group of refugees is high, the likelihood of a terrorist emerging from the roots of America is higher. If not before, the denial of refugees plays into the hands of the enemy, and against the odds of triumph over terrorism.


5. At the “Night the Buzz Stole Christmas” show in Kansas City, Missouri, I saw multiple acts, all of which originated in the United Kingdom. The first of the bands to perform was a four-piece that goes by the name of Swim Deep, the second, Grammy-nominated indie-rock outfit Wolf Alice, and lastly, an ‘80s-inspired band called The 1975. After their performances, I was able to talk to a few of the band members a bit about the differences between touring in America and in the UK. Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice commented that the hotel swimming pools here look kind of like car parks while Theo Ellis (of the same band) remarked that the seafood is a bit subpar in the Midwest compared to back home. Additionally, many of the members agreed that American crowds are more verbal and interactive than European audiences in general.

Hello There: Jean Chow

I was sitting in a booth at the northernmost end of the Student Union. Jam-packed at high noon, my head was on swivel. I didn’t know whom to look for but, once I saw her approaching, I had a hunch that we’d get along.

Contrary to my narrow expectations, the girl that approached me was a brown-haired, audacious adolescent with a personality that refused to hide. I waved, she sat down across from me, and we exchanged typical greetings. As we made small talk, I progressively learned little things about her. My “cousin” from Guangdong province enjoyed spicy food, as did I. I told her that I was a fan of music; She enjoyed listening to the likes of Girls’ Generation and Hyuna. She said that she enjoyed the yoga class she was enrolled in at the Huff; I unsuccessfully attempted to describe to her my favorite pose, the eagle. We were both fans of the Laughing Tomato’s red pepper soup, which we each unknowingly ordered. We slurped as our conversation drifted.

Genuinely curious, I asked her one of the most obvious questions you can torment a foreign exchange student with: What is most different here compared to where you are from? This is what I learned, compacted with what I gathered from our next few lunches in booths and over bread bowls.

Chinese Culture – From a Millenial’s Perspective

  1. Family is priority. As happy as she was to have a bit of a break from her siblings and extended relations, she admitted that she missed the sense of community. I noticed that her friends appeared to feel the same. They tended to gather in large groups and were extremely close-knit, despite having met each other a month prior. I envy this fundamental Chinese value, considering how valuable blood relatives are.
  2. Individuality and identity are of emerging importance. While responsibility to her family held firm, she said that Chinese youth was noticeably more welcoming of independence and eccentricity. While this is an ideal engrained in American culture, this generation of Chinese will be one to watch with the likely occurrence of transitional mentality.
  3. Western media has reflected relatable views onto Chinese youth culture. This applies especially to the protests in Hong Kong, which are widely publicized by American news outlets. While she agreed that elections could be fairer, she believed that most young Chinese remain content, not rebellious.


I am very grateful to have had Jean as my OU Cousin this semester, for I have gained insight into a life that I will never know. As today’s takeaway, I would like to challenge myself and my fellow millenials to remain open-minded and accepting of all cultures; Let us not fear, suppress, or censor what we do not understand.