Could you live on a $1 a day?

Could you live on a $1 a day? 

Would you be able to survive on a dollar a day? Sounds crazy, right? Most of us would say no without any regard. We would not be able to fathom what life would be like living on these wages. However, living on a dollar a day is possible in other places around the world, but that does not make it an easy task.

    In my Global Engagement class, my professor showed the class a series of videos from a YouTube documentation called Living on One. Three friends travel to a remote Mayan village outside of Guatemala City called Pena Blanca, where they document their study of rural poverty and how they and the villagers lived while making only one dollar a day. According to the video, there are about 1.1 billion people across the globe who live on a dollar a day.  

    One major theme that I noticed throughout the videos was that there were many problems and uncertainties that the three friends experienced while in the village, which the local people experienced daily. In one of the videos called Water from a Pipe, one of the three friends contracted a parasite infection after drinking contaminated water from a rigged pipe system in the village. The guy did not have a well-adjusted immune system to deal with the various contaminants in the water. But the villagers’ health was not affected as much because they had been drinking the water since who knows when, and their immune systems had adjusted to deal with such a harsh environment. This is not to say that the people are not sick because they most likely are but cannot afford medical care.  

    In another video called Hunger and Tortillas, the three friends struggle to take in enough nutrition from a diet consisting of rice, beans, lard, and tortillas. They struggle with not having enough energy to pursue daily activities. Young children are most susceptible to having their early development stages hindered because of the lack of access to clean water and healthy and nutritious food. The children in this remote village will inevitably fall behind because of the environment in which they live. 

    The last video was called Disaster Strikes. Heavy rains engulfed the small village, causing landslides, river overflows, and hurricanes in the surrounding area. Many people lost everything: infrastructure, crops, and lives. The people were forced to start over with some governmental assistance, but not like what we have in America. I’d imagine that the villagers would want to get out of poverty, but natural disasters keep people in the cycle of poverty. 

    So, I will ask the question again. Can you live off a dollar a day? Absolutely. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. In fact, no one should be living on these types of wages, but in the world, we live in, there is an unequal distribution of wealth that keeps some people at the top and others at the bottom. 

The Turkey-Syria Conflict

The Turkey-Syrian Conflict is one that is the byproduct of years of international conflict and entanglements, and disputes between Turkey and US-backed Kurdish forces have dramatically increased in recent days. There has been substantial news coverage over the issue, but it can be very confusing to comprehend everything that is going on. Even I have had difficulty with this. To understand this conflict, we must first take a step back in time to where it all began.

In 2011, a civil war started in Syria after non-violent protests were met with aggression from the Syrian government led by President Bashar Al Asad. Once the civil war began, many groups such as pro-government, ethnic, and religious militias, as well as the well-known Islamic Extremistic group called ISIS, sought to gain control of the country. A powerful Kurdish militia was among these groups. Out of these factions, ISIS grew most in its stronghold on the state and posed a more significant threat than any other group due to the groups’ extremely radical ideologies and goal to create an Islamic Caliphate. The United States became an ally of the Kurdish forces to defeat ISIS control in the Northern part of Syria, which the coalition was successfully able to do. After the defeat of ISIS, Kurdish forces were able to seize control of the area and mostly made it their autonomous state for the time being. The presence of Kurds in Northern Syria is what sparked tension with Turkey.

Turkey borders Syria to the North, so the residence of Kurdish Forces created tension in the region. The Turkish government believes that the Kurdish militia is aligned with a Kurdish Guerilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has caused years of insurrection within Turkey. Both the United States and Turkey agree that the guerilla group is a terrorist organization, so Turkey views the US-backed Kurdish forces in Northern Syria as a security threat as well. The United States at first took on a mediator role to ease tensions on the Turkish Border. Kurdish Forces were persuaded to change their name to the Syrian Democratic Forces and encouraged to recruit non-Kurdish fighters; however, the United State’s peacekeeping role has come to a sudden end.

Recently, President Donald Trump decided to remove all American troops from the Turkish-Syrian border in Northern Syria in an attempt to ease the United States out of “endless wars,” according to Trump. The withdrawal of soldiers on October 6th granted a window for a Turkish invasion into Northern Syria on October 9th. Later, the Pentagon mandated that all American troops be withdrawn from the region. The president’s decision to withdraw troops has faced backlash from all corners, even from members within Trump’s political party. There is fear from the international community that the Turkish invasion will allow the resurgence of influence from ISIS as well as increase a stronghold in the region for Turkey, Syria and its ally Russia. There are also concerns for the protection of civilians in Syria, as they are caught in the crossfire of violence and political turmoil.

*https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/14/world/middleeast/the-kurds-facts-history.html
*https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/world/middleeast/syria-turkey-offensive.html?module=inline

OU Cousin’s Smore’s Night

Poster for OU Cousin’s Smore’s Night

The first event of the semester hosted by OU Cousins was the OU Cousin’s Smores Night held at the Cross Firepits located at the Cross Apartments on campus. This event was the perfect opportunity to hang out with my OU Cousin for the first time. After the matching party held near the beginning of the year, my OU Cousin and I communicated a lot with each other and came up with a schedule to meet up to do different activities together. Any event hosted on campus is much easier for me to participate in because I do not have a car, so on-campus activities are more accessible.

On the day of the event, I asked my OU Cousin to meet me at the firepits since they were closer to where she lived near campus. When I arrived, she was not there yet, so I decided to mingle around with other people that were there. Even though the event had just started, there was already a large turnout of OU students and international students. Two large fire pits were lit inside a protected area, and comfortable chairs were set around so that everyone could relax and have a good time. Items to make smores such as big and small marshmallows, Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, Graham Crackers, and extra-long Bamboo Skewers were set about. The day was warm, and the sun had just begun set so that the sky looked as if it painted with an orange, pink, and purple haze.

Cross Firepits

Once my OU Cousin showed up, we decided to grab what we needed to make her first s’more!!! I explained to her how to cook the marshmallow without burning it in the fire ( I have done this many times 😆) so that the marshmallow could have a perfect brown color. After roasting the marshmallow, we successfully created our s’mores; however, my OU Cousin had some difficulty eating hers because it was so sticky. The roasted marshmallow got all over her hands, so we had to leave the event and find a nearby bathroom so that she could clean up, then we came back!!! It was an experience I am pretty sure she will never forget.

I had such a fantastic time catching up with my cousin and what she had done since we had last seen each other. It was such a relaxing time, and I was glad that I was able to be there with her as she experienced one the staples of the American culture.

What is “white privilege”? and How does it impact race relations?

White privilege is a phenomenon where caucasian people have opportunities or advantages in life that people of color do not have simply because of the color of their skin. Granted, this is not to say that some white people do not struggle in life; however, white people still have access to far more resources to improve their way of living. Those who have white privilege do not necessarily notice that it exists, which only perpetuates the inequalities that are prevalent in today’s society. White people experience advantages politically, socially, and economically at the expense of non-white people.

Recently, examples of white privilege have impacted race relations between black and white people negatively in America. For example, just recently, a white female police officer shot an unarmed black man, who happened to work alongside her as an officer, in his apartment, which she mistook as hers. A jury found her guilty of murder, but only sentenced her to ten years in prison. After the sentencing, there has been outrage from the African American community about how the officer will receive a short sentence. Many see the sentence as a blow for racial equality and justice in the legal system, and I can agree. It is hard to tell precisely if the perpetrator would have received a longer or worse sentence if he or she was of color; however, what we know from history is that the entire justice system has been ridiculed with institutionalized racism and injustice, and it still is to this day, so if the perpetrator were black, he or she would have been worse off.

Another example of white privilege in action was when many of the parents involved in the recent college admission scandal to send their children to prestigious universities in the nation received either a short of amount of time to spend behind bars or had to pay a small amount of money, which ultimately had no effect on their total income. These parents received a slap on the wrist for their wrongdoings because they have power and money, which are some of the characteristics of white privilege. Something that was brought up to show that white privilege existed in this situation was a case where a black woman was sent to prison for attempting to send her son to the wrong school district; however, the mother only wanted a better education for her child. There are apparent disparities that black people face, such as the lack of proper education. The education system favored the wealthier parents who used their opulence to cheat the education system, all of which are characteristics of having white privilege.

White privilege manifested from racial biases and racist acts from the past, which eventually gave white people the ultimate power, authority, and unconscious benefits that others in society do not have. It is whether people with white privilege genuinely begin to recognize that it is real that we, as a human race, will be able to make progress in our environment.