This past semester, I had the great fortune to be on the ICDG Exec team and be a co-moderator with another GEF fellow. While our group size was smaller than past semesters, we had some very interesting discussions. We had a couple international students in the group this semester, so it was very interesting to hear from their perspectives about global events occurring in their own countries and how the media can put a different spin on events. One girl in my group, her parents are from Pakistan and I learned a lot from hearing her talk about the recent events of the tension between India and Pakistan. In the past, I’ve always been aware of the long conflict between the two countries, but I never fully understood how the conflict originally began. Especially with the current political climate, a lot of the discussions were mainly focused on national news. Near the end of the semester, we had a lot of fun debating and predicting about the presidential candidates. I am looking forward to my last year of ICDG starting next semester!
For the second semester in a row, I moderated the Arabic Film Club. This semester we watched Caramel, Terrorism, and Kebab, Omar, Tickling Giants, and Emara. Each was good in their own unique way, which makes it difficult to pick a favorite. I must say, however, that I really appreciate Emara for its uniqueness and themes. It is an animated series available on Youtube about an Emirati girl who works in her family’s coffeeshop during the day and fights crime at night. It has important messages about bravery and feminism, and I hope that the creator adds the second season soon. I also really enjoyed Terrorism and Kebab, an Egyptian comedy from the 90s. This was the second time that I watched it, and I found that I enjoyed it much more this time around. I understood the language and the humor better, so I found the movie to be more enjoyable.
My favorite meeting was our screening of the documentary Tickling Giants, which we hosted along with the Egyptian club. Tickling Giants is the story of Bassem Youssef, Egypt’s first political satirist who had the most viewed show in the country’s history until censorship and intimidation forced the show to end. We catered food from Sisters restaurant — which was great — but I think the real draw was that we partnered with Egyptian Club and were able to grow our membership as a result.
Because I will study abroad in Spain next semester, I will have to take a break from the Arabic Film Club. I know the club has been left in good hands, and I am excited to see how it grows next semester.
This semester, I tried for the third time to participate in OU Cousins. I made sure to sign up on time this year, but was unable to participate in the official matching ceremony because of class conflicts. Because there were a disproportionate number of international students to OU students, this left me unmatched and without a cousin once again. However, this did not deter me from getting involved in the group. Even though I didn’t have an OU Cousin of my own, I was still able to attend the OU Cousins Thanksgiving dinner. My sister and I went together and we sat with a couple other OU students that hadn’t gotten matched as well as an exchange student Sarah, who was from Malaysia and wasn’t able to attend with her own cousin. Before we ate, we watched a quick video that gave a more accurate depiction of the history of Thanksgiving, which I think is extremely important. Of course I have nothing against the idea of Thanksgiving being a time where family and friends come together and spend time reflecting on what they are thankful for, but I think it’s important to also recognize how glossed over some aspects of US history can be. The food was delicious, we had a traditional meal of Turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie, etc. It was so nice to share such a heartwarming occasion with new friends and talk about what traditions each of us have this time of year and how important it is to take the time to remember what we are thankful for.
My international group this semester was also the Multicultural/Diversity & Inclusion Engineering Program. It has been bittersweet being involved with the group, as it has been an amazing resource, support group, and way to meet people of diverse backgrounds. The organization has been very helpful, as engineering can not only be overwhelming, but can also make it difficult to have time to meet people besides others in my specific engineering program. Looking back on the importance of the D&I Program, it is evident how important this resource is for people from diverse backgrounds. In comparison to the typically ultra competitive engineering programs, the D&I Program provided guidance from the mentors along with support from other students. Many people from less privileged backgrounds often have to work through college or deal with issues that others may not have to worry about, which made the D&I Program extremely valuable for everyone involved. Since this was my last semester, it was a weird experience leaving an organization that I have been involved with for so long and moving to alumni status. We had a banquet that honored the graduating seniors, and it was very nice having my parents and sister there while I walked on stage. It was amazing to feel such a strong sense of belonging and support because of the D&I Program, and I cannot wait to give back to the organization in the future, as it has given so much to me.
This past semester, I had the honor to be a co-moderator for the Informed Citizens Discussion Group (ICDG) with my fellow Global Engagement Fellow, Noah Coen. It was wonderful to see returning members from our previous group in the fall semester as well as many new faces. We had many interesting and unique discussions from gun laws to hypothetical situations such as: would you rather be a strawberry with a human brain or a human with a strawberry brain. At first, it was obvious that Noah and I were the co-moderator and we had to start every conversation and the other members would occasionally give an opinion. By the end of the semester, everyone was so comfortable with each to the point where I felt like Noah and I were no longer leading the group and everyone became an equally contributing member of the discussion. This semester we had members from various majors and it was great hearing about their different opinions as well as the wide variety of news topics they found important during the past week. Unfortunately, both Noah and I are studying abroad next year so we are no longer moderating next year, but we fully plan on doing it the year after we come back. Since I met some of the most amazing seniors through ICDG and tomorrow is graduation, I felt the need to say that being a member of ICDG was one of the best decision I made as a freshmen. I got to meet some very thoughtful and intelligent people, participated in interesting late night discussions, and made some amazing friends. I wish all the best of luck to everyone graduating this year and I can’t wait to see where life takes them in the future.
This semester I co-founded the Arabic Film Club with another Arabic Flagship student. We both wanted to revive this club, which had disbanded when the faculty advisor had left the school. We revamped what previously was the Arabic Drama Club into the current Arabic Film Club. We met every two weeks throughout the semester to watch and discuss a movie in Arabic. Our discussions focused on aspects of language, culture, point of view, etc. We selected movies that were produced from across the Arab world in order to present a diverse understanding of the film scene.
The movies we watched included Where Do We Go Now?, a Lebanese film; Barakah Meets Barakah, Saudi Arabia’s first rom-com; Mother of the Bride, an old-school Egyptian classic; Traitors, a Moroccan film, and From A to B, an Emirati dramedy. I recommend all of the movies listed — most of which are available through the Language Lab in Kaufman Hall — although the first three are among my favorites. I enjoyed each film we watched for different reasons since each brought something different to the discussion than the movie from the week before.
Throughout the semester, we did some collaborative events with other groups on campus. For example, we hosted a joint screening with the Moroccan Darija Club the week that we watched a Moroccan film. We also supported our faculty advisor, Dr. Mahdi, when he brought Egyptian director Hexham Issawi to campus for a special event.
I look forward to growing the Arabic Film Club even more in the future. We already had a great turnout of students from all levels of Arabic, and we became a registered student organization which means that we are recognized by the Student Government Association and can apply for funding to host bigger and greater events in the future.
This semester, I decided to continue with the international group of Manos Juntas where I am able to volunteer at a medical clinic in Oklahoma City on Saturday’s.
The “Manos Juntas” Foundation is an organization that helps low-income people get free medical care. Throughout the semester, I have volunteered at Manos Juntas many times and have learned many valuable lessons. By volunteering at this clinic, I was able to obtain a large number of individual interactions with patients, take their medical history and review their basic vital signs. All the volunteers were trained and helped the foundation as much as possible. As I am already fluent in Spanish, I was able to practice my translation skills and new medical terms that I had to learn through my “Medical Spanish” and “Spanish for Social Work” course. Through this experience I was able to meet new people and interact with many different cultures. During the time I was helping in “Manos Juntas,” I was able to develop new skills and gain a new vision in the medical field. Although I will not work directly in the field of medicine when I graduate, the experience I had will be beneficial in my life and in my career. I am planning to enter the medical field of law that contains Medical Malpractice and Health Care. “Manos Juntas” is a great tool for me, especially because although I am not certified, I was able to see patients one-on-one, as well as help at the pharmacy.
Community service is an essential part of every student’s life, and should be practiced. Providing help to those in need is a great opportunity to interact with different communities, as well as learn about yourself. Specifically, if we are talking about “Manos Juntas” it is a great opportunity for college students who are in need of medical volunteer hours or just want to help.
Manos Juntas: http://www.manosjuntas.com/Volunteer.html