The Lion King

I had the wonderful experience of seeing Disney’s The Lion King live today. And can I just say – wow! It was absolutely amazing and I honestly wish it had lasted forever. Now, I normally wouldn’t write about stuff like this on here. An American musical written by American writers, preformed in Oklahoma of all places! But I think The Lion King is a worthy exception.

Working under the assumption that everyone (and their brother) has seen The Lion King Disney animated film at some point in their lives, I’m not going to summarize it. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Right now. Turn off your computer, find a copy and watch it.

Instead I want to take about the stage performance, and how it was different from the Disney movie. First of all Rafiki – played by a woman!!! – spoke most of her lines in an African language. Sorry, I don’t know which one, and I don’t want to guess the wrong one! It was gorgeous, and unlike anything I’ve seen in a musical before. The performers really embraced the African culture they were trying to convey.

My favorite part of the musical, however, was the songs “One by One” and “He Lives in You Reprise.” Obviously the vocals and music were amazing but, in those two songs, some of the actors left off their animal costumes and just sang, danced, and dressed as they would if they lived in Africa. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it was breathtaking. I feel like I got a glimpse into African culture from seeing this musical and I know that I want to learn more. I’ve already started reading and researching, and even planning and saving for a trip to Africa. What better way to learn about a culture than to see it for myself? I haven’t decided where to go specifically, and it probably won’t actually happen for a couple years, but if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Travelings is supposed to broaden your understanding of the world and of different people. So far this has proven true in my experience, and I can’t wait to learn more about the many different peoples who call Africa home!

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a marvelous tool. It allows quick and easy access to knowledge spanning the breadth of the world and the murky depths of history. There are versions of Wikipedia in scores of languages, even dead languages such as Latin and Old English. While the results given by the “Random Article” button can give the impression that a large proportion of articles are on obscure athletes or villages, the far more important value of Wikipedia comes in its broader articles. Taken together, they can provide an introductory source for most topics of interest – just don’t forget to find deeper sources when you need them!

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Rokerthon

On the morning of Monday, March 27th, I participated in breaking the world record for the largest human cloud and lightning bolt. The event was hosted by Al Roker, as part of the Today Show’s “Rokerthon 3” series of world records. I arrived at the advertised time, 4:45am, wearing a crimson and cream t-shirt. This was a mistake, as it was quite cold. For several hours we sat in the stands while the crew prepared us for the live filming (for example, those involved in the human weather map practiced getting into position and holding their clouds and other symbols). Afterwards, the live broadcast started (we cheered on cue when Mr. Roker rode into the stadium) and we were ushered into lines to receive ponchos and enter our weather symbols. I was given a white poncho, which was warmer than a t-shirt, and sent to the cloud. This is a clear lesson: it may be appropriate to ignore the e-mail saying to “[w]ear your favorite crimson and cream attire” if the only such attire you have is a t-shirt, and it is cold out.

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Duolingo

I have taken three semesters of Portuguese at the University of Oklahoma, but due to my course schedule I was not able to take a fourth semester this Spring. Nonetheless, I did not want to forget what of the language I had learned, so I had to find some way to practice. For this purpose, I turned to the language learning website Duolingo. The website teaches languages through a collection of interactive lessons and, while I did not make as full use of it as possible, it was a valuable resource for maintaining familiarity with Portuguese. Portuguese is far from the only language offered: Duolingo also offers courses in Spanish, German, Dutch, and many other languages. I understand that they are even implementing a course in Klingon!

duolingosnip

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Midnight in Paris & Vienna

On the last day of 2016, my family and I attended a performance by the Houston Symphony to commemorate New Year’s Eve. Christopher James Lees conducted the event, subtitled Midnight in Paris & Vienna!, which was precisely as advertised: an exhilarating tour through classic pieces from and about France and Austria. One highlight of the evening occurred when Mr. Lees, turning to face the audience, conducted us in clapping at various speeds and intensities to transform the audience into part of the orchestra, which was a splendidly executed and greatly entertaining feat. This was certainly a memorable musical experience.

New Orleans

Over Christmas break, I and seven other members of the OU Chess Club represented the University of Oklahoma at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship in New Orleans. From the title of the event, I had expected teams from a variety of countries. Therefore, I was surprised by the lack of international teams; the only one I know of represented Toronto, Canada. My team did not play against any teams from outside the United States. There were, however, several international students of whom I knew, including the team captain of our better team and now recently graduated president of the OU Chess club, Florian Helff. As this was my first time in New Orleans, I found time to sample some of the local cuisine. Specifically, I tried beignets at a branch location of the renowned Café du Monde. As you might expect from the spelling, the delicious pastries, buried under a layer of powdered sugar, have a French ancestry. Whatever your adventures this winter vacation, have a Happy New Year, and remember that the OU chess club is always willing to accept new members.

Put-in it Out There

Ever since the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, there has been plenty of speculation of Russia getting involved in elections. Yes, multiple elections. Recently in France, there was a vote for leader of the country and Russia happened to be found poking its head into yet another country’s election. Allegedly, at the very least.

What does this ultimately mean? Does this verify further that Russia did indeed affect the U.S. Election, since there is the potential for more than one country having found Russian interference? Who knows, honestly. I do know, however, that this will most definitely reflect poorly on Vladimir Putin the leader of Russia. With increased controversy, one could only assume that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, is possibly up to something in this as well, seeing as Russia and North Korea appear to be on, somewhat, fine terms at the moment. I worry for the safety of the United States, and the rest of the world for that matter, especially if all this turns out to be true.

While I wrote this article in order to bring light to this issue that has been a hot topic recently, I would like to note that I am by no means an expert in this topic, I can only regurgitate what I have heard in the news, from both sides.

I pray for our world. I pray for the future of humanity. Learning about this topic has me humbled for all of humanity. I hope that with the events that have been happening in the world can bring us together, not as different groups of people, but as humans who are trying to make the world a better place.

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Persian Calligraphy

I had the amazing opportunity to attended a Demonstration of Persian Calligraphy this semester. The man who led the class was from a family of Calligraphers who had been creating Calligraphy since he was 3. I had never thought about the fine details that there are in Calligraphy or how inspired this niche art truly is.

Calligraphy, according to the speaker, has been linked to spiritual awakening, noting that before he begins a new creation, he will pray and listen to classical hymns, to become more attuned to the mindset of those who originated Calligraphy as an art form. I was so amazed with how interested and inspiring this art form is. I had always though Calligraphy was more or less fancy writing. But it has so much more than that in its history and I am now more interested than ever in learning about Calligraphy myself.

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Eve of Nations 2017

In the Spring 2017 semester, I attended Eve of Nations, which was essentially an international fashion and talent show. The popular clothing of many corners of the Earth, such as Japan, India, and Mexico were present in this event. One strange thing that happened was at the beginning of the show, there was a fault in the power, which caused the video to stop but kept the music playing. Apparently, the entire show and music had to be synced perfectly for it to follow through properly. This lapse in electricity caused the entire event to be reset. It was a very fun event and I honestly really enjoyed getting to attend with friends. I have always been aware of fashion but was surprised by many outfits I saw. It was eye-opening and I was so thankful that I was able to be there.

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Armenian Genocide Concerts

Early this semester, with my husband, I attended a guitar concert which featured the University of Oklahoma’s Larry Hammet. The concert consisted of he and one other individual playing classic style guitar music.

His associate, who preferred to not have his name mentioned, created a beautiful piece which he played for our amusement. As he went on his next song, he noted that, “in this, I present the cries of lost loved ones during the Armenian Genocide, with the screams of these people being reflected in the strings.”

After leaving, my husband and I spoke for a long time about his words and how genocide still occurs to this day. It is a sore topic and one no one likes to think about, but that does not mean it doesn’t happen. To this day, there are still individuals in Syria and other middle eastern countries fleeing for their lives. Knowing that there are still others in pain and dying, it is horrible to believe it still occurs.

I am glad that I attended this event because of the discussion that it sparked and helped me to draw my attention to problems that are going on across the world, not just in America.

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