Over the last couple of months, the Trump administration has been working through a long list of immigration policies and their potential overhaul. One of the policies the current administration is planning to scrap is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the principles or seemingly lack of so governing our current administration has left in fear of being deported as early as next year. Put best by Raul M. Grijalva, “These are not ‘immigration principles.’ They are principles of nationalism and xenophobia.” To me America is the land of new opportunities, and still has the potential to be one of the greatest countries in the world. Yet it is times like these that I often question the morality of our current administration.
On October 7th, I attended the International Advisory Committees event: International Prom: Hollywood Night. I know a good number of international students, so I was excited to go to this event to see all my friends, However I was not expecting for this event to have as big a takeaway as it did. This event served to broaden my understanding and respect for international song and dance, while still incorporating a level of fun. I’m glad I attended this event because it was a cultural enriching experience which helped incorporate the diversity and music of a vast array of countries.
This semester, I continued my involvement int the Foreign Film club, a new club that was started fairly recently by a couple of Global Engagement Fellows. I have enjoyed my time in the club because I enjoy learning about other cultures. The films we have watched in the club are distinctly different from many American clubs. Observing these differences is interesting because they bring about a fresh new way to tell a story on screen. These differences also helped me to understand the culture and environment of the countries where the movies were produced Unfortunately, this semester we didn’t have too many meetings because some got canceled at the last minute. However, when we did have meetings, it was fun to hang out with a lot of other Global Engagement Fellows as well as with others who were interested in international films. I plan on staying involved in foreign film club throughout the rest of my time here at OU.
Last summer, the US officially pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. When I had originally heard this, I was studying abroad in Oxford and as such was very interested in international events. I am passionate about climate change and I think it’s the most prevalent issue facing us today. Thus, I was extremely disappointed to see that the US had pulled out of the agreement. I think that as an influential country, it is our obligation to lead the way in the response to climate change. If we confronted this issue full force, we would be able to influence other nations to follow in our footsteps of creating a more sustainable world.
This semester I attended a talk called “The Image of an Immigrant.” The presentation was about the average American’s view of immigrants in the United States. Unsurprisingly, Americans overestimate the percentage of illegal immigrants in the US. I also learned that 88% of people disapprove of government assistance to undocumented immigrants. While I can understand that people would be weary of the government supporting individuals who are not legally in the country, I think it’s important to show respect and support to these individuals. At times, I think people forget that undocumented immigrants have their own basic rights and still deserve to be treated with respect. I am glad that I attended this event as it helped me to become more aware of the way in which immigrants are viewed by their peers.
While studying abroad, a group of friends and I went to Paris for a four-day weekend over Bastille Day, France’s national holiday. I was a little nervous about going to France because it was the first country I was going to where the national language is not English. I was worried that a lot of people we would run into would not speak English and it would be hard to get around. I had also heard a stereotype that many French people know English, but will not be willing to speak English with Americans. However, once we got to Paris, I had a very different experience. Most people I ran into spoke English and were very willing to speak English with us. On the train from London to Paris, we were practicing some common phrases in French and a lady sitting next to us helped us by critiquing our pronunciation. In the end, I didn’t have a single negative experience speaking with local French people.
Another thing I was surprised about was the French people’s attitude towards Bastille Day. I expected them to celebrate like how many Americans celebrate Independence Day, however, the celebrated much differently. I was expecting Paris to be extremely crowded on Bastille Day, however, there wasn’t as many people walking around the city as I had expected. I felt like many French people stayed in their homes and were happy to have the day off because most of the people I saw wandering the streets were tourists. Additionally, when we watched the fireworks show by the Eiffel Tower that night, many of the onlookers were quiet and contemplative rather than loud and celebratory like many Americans would act on the Fourth of July. Ultimately, I appreciated the way the French celebrated Bastille Day and had a great time watching the fireworks show by the Eiffel Tower. I hope to visit Paris again sometime on Bastille Day.
For the month of July, I studied abroad in Oxford, England where I took a class called “The Great War & the 20th Century.” I loved getting to explore Oxford because of its rich history and culture. I felt like everywhere we went, there was some historical significance. One of my favorite parts of Oxford was visiting the Eagle and Child, a pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien frequently met at. It was a cool experience eating at a place where these great minds regularly met.
Another thing I enjoyed about Oxford was exploring the various colleges of Oxford University. Each college has unique traditions and layouts so I enjoyed touring multiple colleges. We stayed in Brasenose College so I had plenty of time to explore it. Surprisingly, they were very strict about not letting you walk on the grass quad. If you happened to walk on the quad while the attendants were watching, they would get very angry. We also got to explore Magdalen College which had a very different atmosphere from Brasenose. It had a tower that we were able to walk up and see a great view of Oxford. We could even see Brasenose from the tower.
Overall, I had a really great experience while studying abroad this summer. I struck a good balance between studying for class and spending time exploring the areas I was visiting. I am already missing Oxford and I definitely plan on going back in the future!
A couple of weeks ago, reports in the newspaper Novaya Gazeta claimed that Chechnya had been treating gay individuals extremely harshly through imprisonment, torture, and harassment. Authorities in Chechnya began a collective punishment of gays after a rights group in Moscow applied for permits to hold gay pride parades within the region. Gay men have always had a tough time living in Chechnya because of its extremely traditional values and customs. However, the organized collection and punishment of gay individuals represents a new level of human rights violations in the region. Many gay people in Chechnya have had to live a life of secrecy, but now they risk being exposed and physically targeted by law enforcement within Chechnya. Clearly, this type of harassment should not be tolerated by other nations. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult for other nations to prevent Chechnya from violating people’s basic rights. However, if our society works to promote kindness and respect towards all groups of people, instances like the one in Chechnya will be less common and our society will become more accepting of people in general.
Recently, Emmanuel Macron was determined to be the victor of the French presidential election, defeating Marine Le Pen by greater than a 30-percentage point margin. Macron will be the first president from outside the Republican and Socialists parties since 1958. Macron left the Socialist party to form his own movement, En Marche. Marcon claims that his party is neither right nor left wing, yet many describe Macron as a liberal centrist who supports the EU and is pro-business. Many pollsters had projected Macron to win, however, I was slightly skeptical myself that he would win. Many pollsters had also predicted for Hillary Clinton to win in US general election, yet, they were clearly wrong. Thus, I had predicted that the extreme nationalism and anti-globalism sentiment that led to Trump’s victory would also be present in France and would help Le Pen get elected. Ultimately, I was happy that Macron won because I strongly disagree with many of La Pen’s beliefs. I mainly disagreed with La Pen’s desire to leave the EU. I believe that the European Union is an important partnership between European countries and therefore should not abandoned. French’s election shows how globalization has not been completely defeated by extreme nationalism.
This semester, I decided to join Foreign Film club, a new club that was started last year by a couple of Global Engagement Fellows. I was excited to join the club because I enjoy learning about other cultures. The films we have watched in the club are distinctly different from many American clubs. Observing these differences is interesting because they bring about a fresh new way to tell a story on screen. These differences also helped me to understand the culture and environment of the countries where the movies were produced Unfortunately, this semester we didn’t have too many meetings because some got canceled at the last minute. However, when we did have meetings, it was fun to hang out with a lot of other Global Engagement Fellows as well as with others who were interested in international films. I plan on staying involved in foreign film club throughout the rest of my time here at OU.