• September 5, 2016 /  Uncategorized

    One of the classes I am taking this semester is History of the Middle East since World War I. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my first choice of class; however, it counted for a few general education credits, it was online (which is nice with Kiddo around), and it did sound genuinely interesting. It also sounded useful considering all that is happening in the world today. (I have a theory that World War III is going to come out of the current state of the Middle East, but that is a post for another day.)

    I’ve learned some interesting things in these first two weeks of the semester.  First of all, I can’t believe how badly I was taught about the first world war. Everything I learned about it was through a program called Academic Decathlon, which is, quickly put, a nerd competition. One year all of our subjects were based around the first world war, and I thought myself well-informed. Well, apparently it wasn’t, because the Ottoman empire was barely mentioned and it was, in fact, very important.

    Second of all, sometimes Europe just needs to mind its own business. The roots of much of the Middle Eastern conflict, especially the civil wars, rest in the fact that the borders were commonly placed in a fairly random manner. There are no logical divisions along ethnic or terrain boundaries. Britain and France just pulled out a map and said, “You take this part, I’ll take this.” Previous promises to Middle Eastern officials and regions about independence were for the most part ignored. Israel is a whole other mess, which I haven’t yet decided to be positive or negative, though I look forward to learning more about it.

    In summary, I’ve learned a lot about that area of the world just in two weeks. This is going to be a good semester.

  • December 5, 2015 /  Uncategorized

    I may live in America, but the things I own say otherwise. I wake up and put on clothes made in Indonesia, then grab my backpack from Taiwan before going to class. I use pencils made in China and a laptop from Malaysia. I eat food grown in Mexico and order products online from India.

    Not so many years ago, many of the things I own and use would have been made locally. Now, with the world becoming ever more connected, economies are becoming more and more intertwined. I see many benefits to this, but there are downsides as well.

    When I was growing up in small-town Idaho, there was a unique pizza place and a family-owned auto repair shop. Now they have Pizza Hut and O’Reilly Auto Parts. The globalization of the world is weeding out the diversity in brands and shops; if it isn’t big enough to expand, it gets crushed.

    Fortunately that is not always the case, nor are there only downsides to this trend. The interconnectedness of the world is bringing new products, new flavors, and new music to different parts of the world. I can go online right now and order spices from Ethiopia or chocolate from Indonesia. I can buy clothes from European designers or towels from Turkey. I enjoy having the world at my fingertips, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. And yet I’m still nostalgic for the little family shops of the older days.

  • May 2, 2015 /  Uncategorized

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    It is tradition among OU Cousins to end the spring semester with a barbecue event. Most of the other events during the year are internationally based, which is very fun and informative for the American students, but the international students always want the experience of doing something purely American, and Oklahoman. What event is more Oklahoman than a barbecue? There is good old Southern/Country food (which one is Oklahoma again?), mechanical bull riding, and line dancing.

    For various reasons, my Cousin and I were not both able to go to this event. I didn’t want to go alone, so I took Jon (my husband) with me. The buses picked everyone up from the Lloyd Noble Center and took us out to a real ranch, horses and barn and all! I quite enjoyed everything. I’m gluten intolerant and couldn’t eat much of the food, but Jon said it was delicious. It sure was fun watching people ride the mechanical bull! It was most interesting to see how the international students were doing on that. (You could tell Americans from Internationals by the color of the name tags.) Oftentimes the American students were doing much better than the others, but there were some international students that did better than any of the rest.

    It was a great end to the semester. I got to see horses, hear country music, and get a free cowboy hat. I’m going to miss the OU Cousins program this summer. Perhaps next year I’ll be more able to be active and attend more of the events, because they truly are fun!

     

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  • April 22, 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Global Concepts of Beauty was a panel discussion held earlier this month. Five students from different countries spoke on what is seen as beautiful in their own culture. The speakers covered France, India, China, Saudi Arabia, and various cultures from East and West Africa.

    I found that the specific points that each speaker hit on were rather similar. Each speaker talked some about fashion, and also about body type. Each one compared their culture to the United States. Also, most speakers only focused on what is pleasing for women. The one that talked about men as well was from India, and was not the single male student on the panel.

    The speaker from East Africa (and her friend from the West portion) particularly intrigued me. I recently read a book called Americanah written by Chiamanda Ngozi Adiche, who is from Nigeria. (My roommate recommended it to me.) Both speakers mentioned a topic that was part of the book, which is the disparity between American-African beauty standards and continental-African beauty standards. The most specific of these is the increase of Africans with natural hair. This phenomenon is mostly outside of the continent of Africa. There are various reasons for this, including the fact that their hair is hard to maintain naturally, but I found the different rather intriguing.

    I felt that I personally dress closer to what is acceptable in French culture. The speaker highlighted the focus on individual style, which I like. She also made some jokes about how “everyone wears black a lot” and how at first in America, some people thought she was always depressed because of it. I know that I would struggle with dressing up every day (I definitely have American sensibilities that way), but if I got used to it I would probably enjoy it.

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  • January 20, 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Coming to the international floor, I knew that my roommate and I would have very different cultures. I had expected them to be glaringly obvious. I had imagined strange forms of music, odd habits, and very different outlooks on life. To some extent, all of those are there; and yet, they are subtle enough to often be overlooked.

    I look at her and I see myself. Not in her eyes or hair or skin, but in the way she carries herself. The way she considers a comment before replying. Her concern for my welfare, shown in small ways. Interactions with friends. Our long conversations long past when we should both be asleep. Religious beliefs, and views on how life should be lived. I connect with her on many levels, and I would count her as one of my best friends.

    I find myself assimilating to her culture in some aspects. I listen to some of her music, and I’m falling in love with Portuguese. I picked up on her habit of wearing a wrap-around skirt rather than pants when we are alone in our room. I stop to ponder more, rather than being in a rush.

    And I wonder.

    She and I are so alike.

    If she and I had been born in each other’s countries, would we be same? Would I be just like her now? Would she be like me?

    Or would our relationship be drastically different?

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  • December 1, 2014 /  Uncategorized

    As part of the Global Engagement Fellowship program, I was required to take a class called Understanding the Global Community. We talked about many things in that class, but my favorite part was at the very beginning, when we would watch a youtube video that had music from somewhere outside the United States. Because of that, I have learned a lot about music from different regions.

    One of my favorite songs that we listened to is called Papaoutai, by Stromae. He is a Belgian singer whose father was killed in the Rwandan genocide, in 1994. The title comes from papa, ou t’es which is French for “Father, where are you?” I looked up the translation for the song, and it turned out to be a rather depressing piece. I would not have guessed that from the catchy beat, but I suppose the strange music video helps to give that away.

    The song is very popular in France and Belgium, and not long ago the acapella group Pentatonix did a cover of it, partnering with Lindsey Stirling. I’m a big fan of Pentatonix and hearing that they had made a version of this song was very exciting! I find it interesting that even if I hadn’t heard this song in class, I likely would have come across it anyway. That is a prime example of how music is travelling across the world at faster and faster rates. Listening to music produced in another country is becoming increasingly common, as is music in other languages. As a self-proclaimed “music nut” who enjoys international sounds, this trend is a definite plus of the global community.

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  • December 1, 2014 /  Uncategorized

    Not long ago, I was arriving back at the dorms late at night when I heard music on my floor. Now, hearing music isn’t uncommon, but it wasn’t in my hallway–it was coming from the TV room on the boy’s side. Not only that, but it was Lindsey Stirling’s music. I would recognize that style of violin anywhere. I was curious as to who else on my floor is a Lindsey Stirling fan, so I entered the room and proceeded to introduce myself.

    The sole occupant of the room turned out to be a Palestinian boy whom I had never seen before. We introduced ourselves and proceeded to talk about music in general, Lindsey Stirling in particular. I have often found that people who enjoy the same style of music can talk about it for an extended period of time, and this was definitely the case here. The conversation continued into homeland and travel and classes, and I very much enjoyed myself. I went to bed that night hoping I had made a friend.

    It appears I did, because a few days later I had the same type of experience. I got back late and heard music I recognized coming from the same room, and we talked for a long while. I’m coming to appreciate my floor more and more. I learn so much from having all these different cultural perspectives under the same roof. Being in these close quarters has enabled a shy person such as myself to be better able to meet more peopled, and thereby have more friends. Between run-ins such as this one and lessons in culture from my roommate, this has been a very educational experience and will probably continue to be so.

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  • November 22, 2014 /  Uncategorized

    Italy is well-known for its influence on music. It is the homeland of opera, and many famous composers came from its lands. Many notations in music, such as dolce and cantabile, are Italian words. In fact, this is why I first wished to learn Italian. I wanted to understand the meanings of the music I loved so much.

    I can pinpoint exactly when I first became interested in Italian music. I was home alone, trying to find something to do, when I turned on the TV and began flipping through channels. I happened to stumble across an orchestra performance, and stayed because I love classical music. It just so happened that the orchestra was opening for a concert by Andrea Boccelli, a famous Italian artist. I had nothing better to do, so I decided to listen for awhile. It wasn’t long before I was hooked on his voice.

    The concert was a few hours long, and a little under halfway in my family came home. My parents sent me to bed, but I snuck down to the basement where we have another TV, and I stayed up late watching the rest. I now have a CD recording of this same concert. Ever since then, I have wanted to be able to understand the lyrics to those songs that I listened to. It is one thing to look up a translation. It is another entirely to truly understand the words.

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