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!
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.
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.