Global Experiences

Becoming Globally Engaged; both at home and abroad

Wonder Woman

When Wonder Woman came to theaters this summer, I was so excited. There was finally a superhero movie about a female hero that was also directed by a female. It was a beautiful film and it had a profound affect worldwide. Throughout social media many women talked about the impact it had on themselves, their children, their friends, etc. Many people around the world felt empowered that they finally had such a profound representation of female strength on the big screen after about a decade of a male dominated genre. Wonder Woman broke numerous records. It is now the highest grossing superhero origin movie ever made and it is the best performing film in the DC comics Extended Universe. Patty Jenkins made a film that emphasized both the strength and heart of Diana Prince and the Amazonian warriors that raised her. This film was different than other films in the genre in so many ways, and I feel like it has started a chain reaction of positive representation both in front of and behind the camera. Hollywood still has a long way to go, but Wonder Woman is a fantastic place to start.

The F word

Some people hear the word feminism and think it’s a bad thing. They assume that feminists are all about hating men and not wearing bras. As a feminist myself, I can say that this is usually not the case. Feminism is honestly a complex belief that can vary from person to person. I recently watched a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “We Should All Be Feminists” and thought she had some really good points that relate to how I see feminism. One important point she makes is that “the problem with gender, is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are” and I believe that there is a lot of truth in her statement. From a young age boys and girls are expected to act a certain way. If a girl is assertive, she is bossy, but if a boy is assertive, he just knows what he wants. We live in a society built on the assumption that one gender must be inherently stronger than the other and that gender functions on a strict binary system. If you happen to fall even slightly outside of that system, you are often “othered”.  Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Don’t be ashamed to be a feminist.

Plan A, B, and C

Trying to stay involved this semester has been way harder than I thought it would be. So many events happen while I’m either in class or at work and it’s hard to find the energy to squeeze anything else in. I finally found time to attend an event during International Education Week in November. It was a talk by Dr. Peter Guardino, a professor from Indiana University, titled, “Between Savage Tribes: Frontier Warfare, Vigilantism and Atrocities Against Mexican Civilians During the Mexican-American War”. I have recently decided to try and learn as much about history as I can outside of the typical white-washed, sugar-coated versions I primarily learned in my public education and thought that this would be a good way to do so. I showed up to the Student Union early, which is where multiple fliers said it would be held, prepared to learn but 4:30 came around and only a few other students were there, but no one was there to speak. I waited, and waited for 20-30 minutes obsessively checking and re-checking facebook, twitter, anything to make sure I was in the right place. Still nothing about the event being moved, cancelled, or rescheduled. I had other commitments that evening, so I eventually left. I tried to find a similar event to go to around campus and saw the opening event for a new art exhibit at the Jacobson House Museum near campus called “Genocide, Sovereignty, Democracy” but the event was the day before! I tried to go to the museum to look at the exhibit myself, but it was primarily open during hours I had work or class (a recurring theme this semester). So I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to educate myself through my new favorite thing, TED talks. I scoured the site looking for similar talks to Dr. Guardino’s topic, but couldn’t find anything. I did however find a very informative talk by Aaron Huey about “America’s native prisoners of war”. He discussed multiple historic events throughout the US and the breaking of treaties with indigenous tribes that led to massacres of native tribes and the unjust claiming of their lands. This continuous unjust treatment led to the problems on reservations today.

I learned a lot from this overall experience. If something doesn’t work out, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, and you have to be willing to go further to learn something new.

Here is the link to the talk, please watch it for yourself:

GEF Film Night

As a film major, I really enjoyed being in the foreign film club last year. I got to experience and appreciate cinema from different countries and cultures. Even though I primarily relied on subtitles to understand what was happening, it was cool to see similarities and differences between foreign cinema and American cinema especially when looking at cinema as an artistic medium and comparing it to other art from foreign countries. (The club didn’t go nearly this in-depth when we discussed the films, it’s just something I find interesting as a film major). Sadly, the club was not able to meet any this semester. Thankfully, there was a GEF movie night last week that helped fill the void in my heart. (I’m slightly exaggerating, but it was really fun). I was able to see a few GEFs and got to enjoy the film Return to Cuba, which showed the life of a woman who had moved to Italy in the 1990s, but came back to build a house where her childhood home once stood. I got to see aspects of life in Cuba that aren’t often portrayed in American media. It was interesting to see the opinions of those who had left Cuba for western countries and how their lives there compared to their lives in Cuba.

Enjoying the small things

This semester has been full of many up, downs, and uncertainties. I started an on campus job so that I wouldn’t have to take out any loans this semester for living expenses and I really enjoy it, but now I have less time (and energy) than I did last year to get involved on campus. On top of juggling school and work, I have also been narrowing down my choices of where to study abroad for a semester (spring 2019) and during the summer (probably 2019 as well). I decided to study in England at OU’s sister college The University of Hertfordshire for my semester, but am still somewhat undecided for the summer. This brings me to the point of this post, which is the Taste of the Study Centers event in the Biz that I decided to go to last minute on my little lunch break between classes on Wednesdays. They had free pizza, coffee, acai, and Mexican Coca-Cola and had information on various programs at OU’s three study centers in Arezzo, Italy; Puebla, Mexico; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After sampling some of the free food (because college students rarely refuse free food) and looking at some of the Arezzo programs I am now leaning towards doing the Journey to Italy program for my summer abroad program. It seems like a good way to get a thorough experience in a short amount of time. This event helped me realize how beneficial it can be to take a break on a busy day and try something new.

Spring 2017 International Group

This semester I had the opportunity to be a part of the Foreign Film club again and it was an amazing experience. Even though we did not have many meetings, the few we did have were so much fun. I was able to hang with other Global Engagement Fellows, eat pizza, and be exposed to films from other countries that I may not have discovered on my own. This semester I am also taking the class Film History from 1960- present in which we learned about different film movements in the world throughout this period and how historical events within those countries shaped those movements. Each week we watched a film from a different country and it was cool to be able to then go into Foreign Film club and watch other movies from some of the same countries. As a Film and Media studies major, everything about the movie-making process fascinates me; I love being able to take things I learn from my film classes and apply them to my everyday film watching. My Film History class as well as Foreign Film club have cultivated within me an even greater appreciation for films from around the world and how every country has different ways of telling their unique stories. I know that I will definitely be a member of this club next year.

Spring 2017 International Event 2

On Global Engagement Day (April 5, 2017) I had the opportunity to attend two different sessions. I wish I could have attended more but my class schedule would not have allowed me to L. I attended the Fulbright info session and the Preparing for Your Adventure session. While I found both extremely interesting, I found that what I learned in the Preparing for Your Adventure session seemed more relevant to my current status in the Global Engagement program. I am nowhere near ready to apply for a Fulbright, but it was very informative and helpful to hear stories from people that had been accepted and have gone through or are about to start their research/program. I am however, nearing my time to study abroad. Hearing simple advice like what not to pack or what map app to get for my phone was very helpful. Those are things that an average study abroad info session may not cover. I also now know to pick up electrical adapters and to buy as many things as possible when I arrive in the country that I choose to study in. It was fun hearing from friends and colleagues about their time abroad and made me even more excited to begin my journey.

Spring 2017 International Event 1

Earlier this semester on Wednesday March 8th, I had the opportunity to attend the Latino Flavor event at the University of Oklahoma. The event was come-and-go with many food options from different Latin-American countries. Some of it was prepared by OU housing and food, but a lot appeared to be donated from locally owned restaurants. Because there were so many people, I was not able to try everything, but what I did sample was magnificent. I was able to try one side, two entrées, a dessert, and a beverage. I had chips and quéso, a soft taco, an empanada, trés leches cake, a Brazilian chocolate bonbon (since I only took one, it did not count as my dessert 😉 ) and melon water. All of it was delicious, and I wish I could have tried more. To add to the experience, local as well as student-led Latin dance groups performed while we ate. Outside of eating at Mexican restaurants, I have not had the opportunity to experience other aspects of Latin culture, so this was an amazing experience. I hope that I will have the opportunity to attend this event next year, as well as attend more events hosted by Latino Student Life on campus.

End of part 1

Overall this semester has been pretty great. There have been ups and downs, smiles and lots of tears, but now that this first semester is almost done I know that even though I struggled a bit, I am stronger for it. I have better study habits. I make sure to put school work first, but to give time for fun with friends. My professors this semester taught me so much and I actually enjoyed going to my classes for the most part. I have learned so much this semester, but I am definitely ready to have a month to relax a little.

On the social side of my life, I definitely feel like I am finally starting to come out of my shell. I interact with so many amazing people throughout week; from the GEF lunch bunch to studying in the Lead and Volunteer office, my friends inspire me to be the best I can be. I cannot wait to see what next semester will bring. I hope to find a better balance between school and friends; I feel like I spent most of my time in my room or the library studying, which is great, but I also missed out on so many opportunities to try new things and get to know people on another level. At the end of my four years, I do not want my diploma to be the main indication of my time at OU. I want to make memories that I can look back on with people that will hopefully stay in my life for many years to come.

TED talk thoughts: “What does it mean to be a citizen of the world?” by Hugh Evans

I recently watched the TED talk by Hugh Evans from February 2016 entitled “What Does It Mean to be a Citizen of the World”. In this video Evans discusses the movement he created that mobilizes “global citizens” which he defines as “people who self-identify first and foremost not as members of a state, nation or tribe but as members of the human race”. He discussed how we should no longer only depend on politicians to try to enact and maintain global change, but rather come together as global citizens to make the change we wish to see, especially with how connected people all over the world are nowadays through the internet and social media. The problems that he specifically mentioned fixing are climate change, poverty, and gender inequality. His argument being that they need to be taken care of on a global scale rather than only being slightly addressed by a few countries. I found his talk very inspiring and I want to do more to be a part of this movement. I now realize that I do not necessarily have to accomplish some huge task on my own. I can do little things with the help of others to better this world we all live in. Our worth as human beings should not be determined or limited based on what circumstances we were born into. I know it may sound cliché, but I truly believe that every person on Earth deserves the opportunity to be the best they can be.

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