With Study Abroad comes Diversity Issues

When I think about studying abroad, I think about all of the positives that could come out of such an experience, but I never really take the time to understand how myself and others could be viewed and treated as foreigners. In a study conducted by Brown University where students returning from short term and long term study abroad trips were surveyed about their experience, diversity issues were discussed. Some diversity issues that stood out to me are minority/majority issues, race and ethnicity, nationality, and gender.

In America, White-Americans dominate the racial majority, while Africans Americans take the place of the largest ethnic minority. What I noticed in some of the white-American student surveys was that many of them for the first time experienced what it felt like to be a minority while studying abroad. For example, the White-American students who had traveled to countries in Africa had experiences that made them uncomfortable and reminded them they were white, which is a fundamental concept of being a minority; however, most of them did not experience modes of discrimination or prejudice. This is interesting because being an African American in an African country, according to one of the students, would have been far worse. African American and African cultures are entirely different because African Americans are seen to be whitewashed or westernized. Being an African-American in general means you have it hard wherever you go and that you are a minority all the time. I can testify to this based on my time in Russia. Although there was a significant amount of African people who lived there, I instantly stood out, attracted unwanted attention, and was treated differently.

This brings me to my second point: nationality. According to the students, as an American, we are perceived as more socioeconomically well off than most people around the world. No matter if one is dirt poor or filthy rich, he or she is put into the same category of an abundance of wealth. That being said, many of the study abroad students were scorned upon and taken advantage of, especially in countries in Eastern Europe. While I was in Russia, for example, I experienced almost being overcharged at a local market because the vendor overheard me speak English and tried to exploit me. It’s interesting to think that although each of us in America has certain problems financially, we are perceived to still be able to live well enough than most people around the world.

The last diversity issue that did not surprise me is gender inequality-this concept was seen around the globe with many of the female study abroad students. Gender inequality is universal and is subjected to no boundaries. For example, a female student in Cuba was hindered from participating in an athletic activity with the male students, while thousands of miles of away in France, a female student was harassed from men in her environment. Women receive little protection everywhere.

These key themes stood out to me because I have never really thought of there being other people who have experienced similar issues that people of color experience on a daily basis. I now understand that diversity issues are not tied to a single group of people but can affect everyone in some shape or form.

Where would I go?🧐

Where would I study abroad, and why?

This question is not that easy to answer. There are so many places around the globe to visit, and these places all hold unique qualities that make them stand out.

If I had to choose, I would study abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia! I have already been to Russia before to the capital, Moscow; however, I want to continue to travel around the country and explore more of what it has the hold. I believe the next best step would be to visit Russia’s second- largest city.

From what I have heard about St. Petersburg is that it is a city vibrant with culture and history. The architecture of the buildings within St. Petersurg is vibrant with color and preserved so well that it feels like the city is a museum in itself. Some places that I would like to visit are the Winter Palace, The State Hermitage Museum, Pushkin, Alexander Palace, Catherine Palace, and Palace Square. Visiting these places will allow me to learn more about Russia’s fascinating history and take some really cute and aesthetic pictures 😜

St. Petersburg, Russia 🇷🇺

I would also like to study abroad in St. Petersburg to improve my Russian language skills! I believe that having the opportunity to be immersed in a native environment of language and culture will help challenge me to utilize my foreign language skills and gain a better understanding of the language. I’ll be able to hone my language skills not only through a formal education setting where language classes are offered but also through going beyond my academic setting and using the language within my everyday environment.

Besides Russia, I honestly would not mind studying abroad anywhere in the world. I do not want to be constricted to one region of the world due to academics but instead, see as much of the globe as possible to live spontaneously and gain unforgettable life experiences. Some places that I have in mind are China, Japan, France, England, Australia, Canada, and much much more! I am a big foodie person, so I would love to travel to one of these places and connect with the natives through cuisine. Food is always the path to someone’s heart. ♥️

The answer to where I would study abroad and why depends not only on the goals or objectives that I might have but where at the moment I would rather be in the international community. I cannot wait to see where i’ll end up next✈️

OU Cousins Matching Party 🎉 🥳 🎊 🎈

On Tuesday, September 3rd, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and attend the OU Cousin’s Matching Party. I was nervous because I did not know what to expect at the event, but I knew I had to participate in it to see for myself. This event is where other OU students and I frantically attempted to find an international student to match with and be our OU Cousin for the year! At the event, we first played a bingo game where we had to find international students who matched with a section on our bingo sheet. For example, I had to find someone who had a birthday in September. We all ran around trying to find someone while at the same time try to get to know each individual that we met personally. After bingo was over, we turned in our sheets to possibly win an OU Cousin t-shirt (sadly, I did not get one 🙁🤣). We then continued with the game but without the bingo cards. I met some cool international students. The first girl that I met was from South Korea. She was so hype and overwhelmingly sweet, and I instantly wanted her to be my OU Cousin, but unfortunately she had already matched with someone else; however, my time interacting with her is one I will never forget. I also met a freshman like me, who is from Africa, and we had a great conversation.

I was lucky enough to find my OU Cousin at the matching party. If you did not find your cousin, no worries, you would be matched online with someone through an automatic matching system. My OU Cousin is from Austria, and she speaks German! When I first met her, we immediately clicked. She has some of the same hobbies and interests as me! She is studying Law which is the field I am interested in as well. She also likes watching movies, and T.V. shows (she loves the Game of Thrones), being outside doing fun activities, and having a sweet talk and relaxing. By the way, her birthday is a day after mines! She is such a kind person, and I cannot wait to meet up and hang out with her this year! We are going to try to meet up as much as we both can. Right now I am trying to plan out activities to do on campus, in Norman, and maybe in the Oklahoma City Area soon! I am so eager to connect with this student this year. I hope I can form a close bond with her while also immersing her in the American Culture and be immersed in her culture as well!

What is happening in Jammu and Kashmir? An International​ News Event

Jammu and Kashmir.

Most of us do not know of this place or what is even happening there. Before coming to OU, I was not knowledgeable of the state or its events.

Jammu and Kashmir is a state located on the northern side of India. Up until recently, Jammu and Kashmir had a level or regional independence that other states in India did not have; today, this is not the case. After the Hindu Nationalistic Party of India revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Jammu and Kashmir have lost a level of autonomy previously held before. The party’s goal is to take control of the state and allow non-Muslim people to inhabit the area. As a result of this new policy, opposition and protest have ensued. The Indian government has since then enforced strict crackdowns on dissenters of this decision but have also begun to ruthlessly target the Muslim inhabitants of the state and have subjected them to all modes of violence without probable cause.

According to a news article from Al Jazeera, a large number of people have been arrested, detained, beaten, and tortured at random if any signs of ant-Indian government sentiment is recognized. Many people live in fear of being targeted by security forces. In the article, one Kashmir man described the extent of his injuries as being inhumane. This 22-year-old man was beaten so severely with sticks and weapons, and he even was electrocuted. There is a photograph of the man’s swollen and bruised legs, which puts into perspective the amount of agony he must have experienced during the ordeal. Men who are detained are usually sent away to an undisclosed location and are often not heard from for a while or ever again because communication in the state is sometimes inaccessible.

So why is this important? Is what is happening to the people of Jammu and Kashmir having anything to do with American interest? Technically no, the crackdown in the state does not directly affect me; however, that should not prohibit me from being concerned for the safety and well-being of the people there. There are clear signs that human rights violations are happening within the state. The people are unlawfully taken into custody without due process of the law and are at the will of abuse by law enforcement. If they speak out about these atrocities, they are subjected to more of the same. In America, we can freely express our opposition to specific policies that we disagree with without fear of repression, but in India, this is not so. The Indian government ought to be held accountable for the level of treatment directed towards the people of the state by the United Nations to stop these acts. The international community is continuously allowing the Indian government to instill terror among the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

What is Global Engagement? Why does it Matter?

What is Global Engagement and why does it matter?

I have pondered these two questions ever since they were introduced in my Fellowship for Global Engagement Class. Global Engagement means the act of not only knowing about events and issues facing the globe but also understanding these concepts and taking the initiative to analyze and think critically about how they are important overall to society. I believe that being globally engaged matters because it allows us to be connected to the world through our knowledge of global issues and the cultural differences that exist between us.

In class, we learned about the difference between Global Awareness and Global Engagement. Global Awareness consists of having an idea or a general sense of what is occurring around us. For example, I know that there is ongoing conflict in Syria right now that began in 2011. On the other hand, Global Engagement is when we take the initiative to try to comprehend and reflect on this newfound knowledge and discuss and share this new information with others to acknowledge its importance. So in the case of the conflict in Syria, in order for me to be Globally Engaged, I must try to discern what led to the start of the conflict and why it has continued with no end in sight for almost a decade. I could also try to learn who the key players involved in the conflict are and how the people of Syria are being affected by such violence. Lastly, I could try to figure out how the conflict in Syria could potentially be solved and how it is related to me. I am an American and my American interests are not directly affected by what is happening in that country; however, the atrocities being committed there is an issue that affects all of us Americans indirectly as human beings because other people’s human rights are being infringed upon. I could then continue with this process by expressing my feelings with others, which could help them in becoming globally engaged as well. I am currently in the process of doing everything that I listed here.

It is definitely not easy being globally engaged. Before I came to OU, I thought I knew everything about every place in the world because I stayed up to date with current events, but now after taking a class called Understanding the Global Community for my International Area Studies Major and for Global Engagement Fellows, I have come to recognize that I actually know very little. I am familiar with certain international topics, but I do not fully know the extent to which certain critical details are relevant to a narrative. I think that the best way to improve my interaction with the world is to alter how I go about staying informed. I must stay up to date but also absorb all the information that I am learning about at the same time.