Global Engagement Fellowship Blog 2016-05-29 14:15:07

Buongiorno from Arezzo! This is our last full day in Arezzo; we are leaving tomorrow for Rome. On Tuesday, most of us will fly back to the United States, though some are continuing their travels in Europe. The first three days after my last post here were the most exciting, because we commuted to Florence on each of those days. On the first day, we visited the Galileo Museum of Science and Il Duomo, the cathedral of Florence. We walked in the rain to get to the museum. This was unfortunate because I, when I had looked at the weather that morning, had seen that the rain wasn’t supposed to start until we were at the museum. With this in mind, I left my rain jacket at the hotel so that I wouldn’t have to carry it. Alas, it began raining early, and I got wet. On the bright side, I dried off quite nicely. The museum tour was very nice. The highlights were a gigantic armillary sphere and a collection of historical maps. Afterwards, we broke into smaller groups to find lunch, then met outside Il Duomo to tour the cathedral and accompanying baptistery. Obviously, the most impressive feature here was Brunelleschi’s dome. Many members of the group went to the lantern at the top of the dome. I made it part way up, but fear got the better of me when I made it to the first balcony overlooking the interior of the cathedral. On the next day, we visited the GE Oil and Gas Nuovo Pignone facility. The facility was very impressive and clearly represented the sum of a great deal of ingenuity and effort. On the third day, we visited the Opificio delle pietre dure (or, workshop of semi-precious stones), a leading center for art restoration; the Academia which holds, among other works, Michelangelo’s David; and the Uffizi, which has one of the world’s leading collections of Renaissance art. At the Opificio, we learned about some of the methods used in art restoration. For example, when restoring a painting the restorer might use a cross hatched pattern of fine brush strokes to allow later restorers to determine the original work from the restoration, while still maintaining the appearance of the original work when viewed from a distance. The Academia was, as sites containing notable works of art tend to be, packed with people. The Uffizi, however, was much more tightly packed with people, probably because it had many more notable works of art. It was also vast, and filled with stairs. Another notable feature of our third visit to Florence, is that there was a train strike during the majority of the day. This meant that we had to take a bus to Florence, and return on a later train than we had in the past. On Thursday and Friday, I primarily worked on classwork (we have three projects to complete for this study abroad class, the first two are done and the third is due about two weeks after returning to the US) and on Saturday, I attended class in the morning, and didn’t do much for the remainder of the day.

The armillary sphere in the Galileo History of Science Museum.
The armillary sphere in the Galileo History of Science Museum.
The exterior of Brunelleschi's dome, as seen from a nearby area.
The exterior of Brunelleschi’s dome, as seen from a nearby area.
The exterior of Brunelleschi's dome, as seen from the Uffizi.
The exterior of Brunelleschi’s dome, as seen from the Uffizi.


I didn’t think there was a hand in existence with such a soft touch

or a mouth that spoke only words of compassionate comprehension.

I didn’t know that someone could have eyes that read my soul like a book

or a smile that says ‘I’ll always be with you.’

I didn’t understand that there is a brain filled with hopes and dreams of flying around the world and building a house in the country.

But now I know that there is a heart that beats with passion for saving lives and for weak sweet tea and has the capability of truly loving.



Feminism: Why I will not be quiet

“Come stand by me. I don’t normally get to see people this pretty in the morning.”

It was six in the morning and all I wanted was gas, coffee and to hit the road.

Little did I know that the 50 year old man standing at the counter had something different in mind.

Many thoughts ran through my head:

“Who does this guy think he is?”

“Why is he talking to me?”

“I could be his daughter’s age.”


Before he even said a word to me, I knew the situation was trouble. I walked into the quick stop by myself to four men standing around the counter. It gave me an uneasy feeling. I made my way to the back of the line only to have a 50-year-old man in overalls stare at me for an awkward amount of time. When I made eye contact with him, I gave a smile to keep myself from being uncomfortable. But, even when I looked away, he kept staring.

That’s when he said IT:

“Come stand by me. I don’t normally get to see people this pretty in the morning.”

And I broke down. Not on the outside. But on the inside something caved. I wanted so desperately for the situation, which I knew would happen from the start, to be a dream. I wanted to believe that I was judging the men too harshly that morning when I walked in and thought, “one of them is going to say something inappropriate to me.”

I wanted to be wrong.

But, at that moment, I was too right.

So, inside of me was this battle. What was I supposed to say? What did he want from me? What was I supposed to do? I most certainly wasn’t going to stand by this man I barely knew. Why did he have to put me in this position of having to retort to his unnerving comment (command)?

I tried to come up with something that would get him to question why he felt the urge to talk to me that way. I might have asked him why or told him that I can’t deal with men this early in the morning. I just wanted to say something that would get him to see how sexist he was being and how his comment was unfair for me to endure.

But what, in that moment, came out of my mouth?

“You’re so sweet.”

But see, I’m the type of girl who notices when there are more men in a room than women or when a guy puts his hands on me without asking or when a female backs down from a conversation because the males have taken over.

I notice these things and speak against these things daily.

And yet all I could say was: you’re so sweet.

As soon as I said the words I regretted it. I hadn’t stood up for myself. I didn’t stand up for women everywhere who have to deal with random creepy comments from men every day.

you’re. so. sweet.

I had encouraged him.

He looked at me and smiled, “I just thought that if a beautiful girl like you stood by me, it might make me look a little better.”

I laughed.

It wasn’t funny.

As he turned around and paid for his things at the checkout counter, I couldn’t help but think about how he had ruined my morning. In fact, I began to think about all the times that sexist behavior had really affected me and how I had not fought back:

The one time at IHOP when men chased down my car and opened my door without my permission. That time a little boy ran through the streets groping me and my friends in NYC. That time a boy gave me a massage without asking if it was alright. The time boys made fun of me behind my back because my boobs are too small. And let’s not forget the constant catcalling.

Why? Why that morning did I back down? What made me so fearful to speak up that I gave that man a smile he so desperately wanted?

Because of the times I have spoken up only to receive criticism from the people closest to me, from women who should be on my side.

One time a man groped my butt on Bourbon Street, and, instead of brushing it off, I turned around and told (yelled at) him to keep his hands to himself. My friends told me to “calm down”.

One time a drunk man with his son (who couldn’t be more than ten years old) stopped us on the street to give his son a hug. I originally protested, but none of my other friends did. So we all gave the little boy a hug. Afterward I talked about how hyper-masculinity teaches young boys that it’s okay to touch random girls they barely know. My friends shrugged it off and laughed about how upset I was.

One time a person who shall not be named (he’s married) randomly sexted me (a minor at the time) about the disgusting things he wanted to do to me. I told family. I told friends. I found out that he had done it to other people. I was told that it would cause too much drama if I talked to his wife. So I kept it quiet.

That morning in the convenience store was just one of many and more moments yet to come. And I was a bystander, allowing the man to think it is okay to DEMAND random women stand next to him.

“The bystander effect, or bystander apathy, is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.”

There are plenty of times I have been a bystander. Sometimes I let someone get away with a sexist joke. Sometimes I don’t say anything to someone who makes a racist comment. And sometimes I am the one who perpetuates the negative behavior.

That morning at the convenience store, I was a bystander. And there will be other times when I choose to keep quiet instead of standing up for what is right.

But the thing about keeping quiet is that every time I stay silent, there is a woman who needs someone to speak up.

One in four college women will be sexually assaulted and one in five women will be raped.

I personally know at least ten women in my life who have been raped and more who have been sexually assaulted. Behind them are women who have almost been. And even larger are the number who experience some kind of verbal assault or sexual misconduct on almost a daily basis.

If I don’t stand up for these women, who will? If I allow men (and women) to think it’s okay to shame women or make unsolicited comments or touch them without permission (god forbid), then I am just as bad as they are.

The point of this story is not to shame those who may not always stand up for what they believe in or to bash on all men. The moral of this story is to encourage those of you like me, who may not always feel supported, to speak up. Don’t sit down and shut up. Stand up for what is right. Continue to give a voice to those people who may not have one. A simple word may make a small change in someone’s behavior.

But small changes can turn into big ones.





Report Back: PR Writing

What are the key pieces of advice you found for improving one’s press releases?

  • A piece of advice that was a recurring theme in these articles was to get to the point immediately. Additionally, it was mentioned multiple times that a press release should address who, what, when, where, why and how.

Did you learn anything that surprised you from these articles?

  • It was surprising to me that some of the articles advised that press releases include photographs when possible.

How will you apply what you learned to your own writing?

  • I will apply many of these tips in my writing; I will make sure that I am always direct, that my release follows proper format and that it targets a specific group in the media.
  1. “7 Tips for Writing a Killer Press Release” by Russell Working

2.  “A complete guide to writing an effective press release” by Debbie Leven

3. “PR Advice from Journalists: Dos and Don’t on Press Releases.” by Robert Wynne

PR Advice from Journalists: Dos and Don’t on Press Releases.

Chapter 6: PR Writing

Chapter 6: News Releases

Chapter 6 addressed another type of PR writing that I had not learned the specifics of. It was helpful for the text to address news releases. According to the text, news releases are written for routine news events, one-time news events and “bad news” events. Furthermore, I found it interesting to learn about the concept of localizing. I would have never thought about making multiple versions of a release in order to better appeal to specific regions. I was also glad that the text was recently updated to include information on social media releases. I was surprised that a PR firm had the foreknowledge to introduce this type of release in 2006.

What did you read that made you think about public relations or public relations writing in a new way?

  • Reading about video news releases made me think in a new way about how broad the public relations industry is.

What did you read that you think is most useful/applicable to your current writing?

  • I believe that the social media release template included in the text will be useful in the current climate.

What did you read that you think is most useful/applicable to your professional goals?

  • The section about types of news releases will be most useful in reaching my professional goals.

Chapter 8: PR Writing

Chapter 8: The Public Relations Process

I have never learned about the different types of background materials, so that portion of Chapter 8 was interesting to me. From fact sheets to backgrounders to biographical sketches, there is clearly a lot for me to learn about writing as a PR professional. This continued with the section on features; Although I am familiar with writing features in a journalistic format, I found it interesting to see how I will be tweaking my writing to accommodate a more persuasive purpose. As my third takeaway, it was appealing for me to learn about the types of PR features, which include company profiles, human interest stories, advice articles and stories about interesting trends.


What did you read that made you think about public relations or public relations writing in a new way?

  • Reading this chapter as a whole made me think about the technicality of PR writing in a new way.

What did you read that you think is most useful/applicable to your current writing?

  • I think that the basic guidelines on the different types of background materials and features will be most applicable to my current writing, as well as to accomplishing my professional goals.

Mini Competitor Analysis: PR Writing

Original Organization: BBC Radio 1 (British radio station broadcast internationally by the British Broadcasting Corporation)


Beats 1 (Internet radio station of Apple, Inc.’s music streaming service, Apple Music)


Beats 1:

Tagline: “Worldwide. Always On.”


Beats 1 is an Internet radio station operating under Apple, Inc.’s music streaming service, Apple Music. It broadcasts live 24 hours a day to 100 different countries. Beats 1 has offices located in Los Angeles, California, New York City, New York, and London, England.


  • Worldwide
  • Revamped
  • Constant
  • Eclectic
  • Renowned


  • Handpicked
  • Curated
  • On-Demand
  • Innovative
  • Progressive
  • Exclusive

Chapter 5: PR Writing

Chapter 5: Planning and Message Design

In my opinion, this chapter will be particularly useful. My first takeaway was the introduction of the “roadmap” to public relations planning. The introduction of standard planning tactics for setting goals, budgets and timetables was a good way to familiarize myself with the aspects of a PR plan. My second takeaway was from “Developing the Message.” I found it particularly helpful to learn that the essential questions to answer within message development are the who, why, what and how. I think that my final takeaway was the most valuable; The planning outline addressed in the text included what to plan for in a PR outline: the type of project; situation; objectives; target publics; analysis of a public’s wants, interests and needs; core message; communication channels; appeals; and evaluation methods. This will help me to plan in my future PR writing.

What did you read that made you think about public relations or public relations writing in a new way?

  • After having read about the development of a message, it is clear how in-depth research for PR writing must be.

What did you read that you think is most useful/applicable to your current writing?

  • I believe that the excerpts about the PR planning outline will be most valuable.

What did you read that you think is most useful/applicable to your professional goals?

  • I think that this entire chapter about planning and message development will be applicable to my future PR career.

Mini Backgrounder: PR Writing



Tidal (also known as TIDAL and TIDALHiFi) is a branch of the Aspiro Group, which is based in Sweden. Tidal was established in October of 2014.


Tidal is a subscription-based streaming service with music videos, high definition streaming and exclusive content. Tidal prides itself on paying a fair amount of royalties to songwriters and artists. It’s top competitors include Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music. Tidal is the first ever artist-owned streaming service.


Tidal excels at creating exclusivity with artists. Tidal has released exclusive content from popular contemporary artists such as Beyoncé, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Kanye West, T.I., The White Stripes, Arcade Fire and Daft Punk. Tidal prides itself on paying a fair amount of royalties to songwriters and artists. It is also the first ever artist-owned streaming service.


Tidal has been criticized for its exclusive content, with critics arguing that Tidal’s exclusive release of Kanye West’s most recent album, The Life of Pablo, only increased the appeal of piracy. It has also been criticized by other musicians for having a corporate and commercial feel. Its high price point has brought about further criticism, with arguments stating that Tidal is “out of touch” with consumers.


Tidal’s top competitors include Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music.

Social Media:

499,000 page likes



In the News:

  1. Jay-Z’s Tidal Launched in Region (May 26, 2016)

2. Jay-Z Talks ‘Lemonade’ Cheating Rumors On ‘All The Way Up’ Remix (May 24, 2016)

3. Cultura Profética’s TIDAL Show Delivered A Timeless Experience In The Age Of Immediacy (May 26, 2016)

My School Rules

There is a new initiative in Oklahoma called “My School Rules” meant to highlight the positive qualities of the public education system that have recently been omitted from the narratives of what public schools are like, in order to raise support for political schemes to replace the current education system with exclusive, private, charter schools. For this reason, I feel that it is my responsibility to share my experience in the Moore public school system.

For the sake of time (and sanity) I begin my story in Junior High and only briefly describe a few notable teachers, despite the many others who positively impacted my life as well; if I were to mention them all, this could easily be a twenty page thesis. So, without further ado, let’s begin ––

Junior High kids are a lot of things; however, in my experience, likeable isn’t always one of them. Looking back on my thirteen-year-old self, I remember a few key things: I was obsessed with the Twilight Saga, I desperately wanted to be “popular,” and I had decided that I was far too cool for school.

Another thing that I distinctly remember about Junior High is not having a cell phone. This might sound insignificant but trust me, when you are trying to survive in a school with hundreds of petty pre-teens, an I-phone can serve as one of your greatest weapons.  Even in 2010, when I was in the 7th grade, I felt like I was the only kid in the world who was deprived of what I then considered a basic right.

My philosophy changed completely when my Geography teacher, Mr. Langan, explained to my class how privileged we were to have access to clean water and electricity, let alone cell phones. Mr. Langan asked us a series of seemingly ridiculous questions, and all I could think was “obviously, I have a refrigerator,” And “everyone has a car, how else would we all get around?” At the end of class, he claimed that, based on our answers, each and every one of us was in the “top 1%” of people in the world. Needless to say, I was shocked; how on earth could I be more privileged that 99% of people on Earth if I didn’t even have a cell phone?

Throughout the school year, we talked a lot about the world – a place that, I soon realized, I knew almost nothing about. Up until that point, I had lived my life in a bubble; all that I really cared about was what table I sat at during lunch, and when I was going to get my next pair of Miss Me jeans. However, when I started thinking about the girls my age living in under-developed countries who weren’t allowed to attend school, who had to walk miles to retrieve clean water for their families, all of my previous concerns seemed rather silly in comparison. Mr. Langan taught me to care, not just about myself and the people around me, but about the world.

Flash forward to the 8th grade, and I had another phenomenal teacher; Ms. Clay, who taught US History. While I still struggled with the never-ending need to be one of the “cool kids,” I had rid myself of the notion that paying attention in class was nerdy. In fact, I was quite possibly the most outrageous over-achiever in my grade. This was, in large part, because Ms. Clay’s class was like nothing that I had ever experienced in school before – it was actually fun. Instead of writing notes and reading textbooks, we played History-Jeopardy, drew political cartoons, and held in-class debates.

The most notable aspect of Ms. Clay’s class was, undoubtedly, our chapter on the American Civil War. During the chapter, my class was split into two teams: the Union and the Confederacy (go figure, right?), and we then proceeded to reenact the civil war over the final month of class. During the chapter, each assignment and extra credit opportunity was a way for us to earn points and thus “win the war.” I remember going home and making Hardtack (a disgusting cracker that was a staple for soldiers during the war) to bring to class for extra credit, spending hours reciting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (which still runs through my mind every now and then), and writing page after page of notes for our in-class debates, all so that my team would win.

It could be argued that I was simply a teacher’s pet who had nothing better to do than devote herself to US History, and, to some extent, that would be correct. Not every student in the class took it as seriously as me. However, by the end of the year, there was not a single student who neglected to turn in assignments. Why? Because we each had a responsibility to each other – a responsibility to pull our own weight and not let our team down. Ms. Clay made learning worthwhile, she made it matter, she made it fun.

As a sophomore in high school, I encountered another extraordinary teacher – Ms. Parks – who taught World History. Ms. Parks’ class was nothing like Ms. Clay’s had been. It was difficult; the readings were challenging, the workload was heavy, and by the end of the year I was convinced that my hand would fall off if I wrote another vocab definition. I worked harder in that class than I did in any other class throughout the duration of my public education, and I simultaneously loved and hated it.

I soon realized that overcoming challenges while learning was one of the most empowering feelings that I had ever experienced. Because, even though I often times wanted to scream that I did not care a single bit about the Byzantines or the Ottomans, the feeling of making a good grade on an exam after spending hours studying was totally unmatched – it made all of the hard work worth it. Ms. Parks didn’t dumb anything down; no student got a free pass, we all had to work hard to succeed. And, as difficult and stressful as the class was, it taught me a valuable lesson: that I was capable; that, if I was willing to put in the work, I could achieve whatever I set my mind to.

During my senior year, I decided to take Human Geography (mainly because I had heard that it was relatively easy, and I was hoping to have the sought after “senior blow-off year”). In retrospect, I should have known better than to trust the rumors, because the class was anything but easy. However, while it was not the blow-off class that I had initially hoped for, it was by far the most interesting class I took during my public education. As a senior, I had grown very interested in the world around me, but I still had relatively no idea how it worked.

I was well aware of the problems with our society, but I had no idea how to fix them. I still struggle with this and, unless I miraculously transform into some all-knowing being, I assume that I will struggle with it for the rest of my life. However, Ms. Lewis (my Human Geography teacher) taught me that we had a much better chance of changing the world for the better if everyone’s perspective was valued equally – if everyone’s voice was allowed to be heard.

I learned a lot of things during my public education: the Pythagorean Theorem, the function of the mitochondria, and (most importantly) every word to “The Fifty Nifty United States” song, to name a few. But, my public education was much more than that.

I learned that the world was much bigger that Moore, Oklahoma, and that there were people struggling all around the world that are too often overlooked. I learned how to work in a team of diverse people, some of whom I had almost nothing in common with. I learned that school could be fun, that learning could be rewarding. I learned that I was strong, and intelligent, and capable of success. And I learned that if we want to change the world, we have to do it together.

Public education has come under a lot of scrutiny lately and many people have denounced it entirely, claiming that the public school system just “doesn’t work anymore.” However, public school worked for me, and it works for millions of American students every year despite significant differences in students’ gender, race, socioeconomic status, and language. Public education also allows students with mental and physical disabilities the opportunity to succeed.

The charter schools that many people point to as a better alternative to public schools, on the other hand, are not required to accept all students. In fact, they can choose students based on ability, wealth, gender, and even race. If all children are not allowed equal education, how can we ever hope for all people to have true equality?

Nelson Mandela once said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Every child is an unlit match – infinite potential – and many could change the world for the better if given the chance. Public education empowers every student to succeed, while private charter schools bar certain children from ever having the opportunity to begin. I choose Public Education; I choose equality for all children. What do you choose?