This semester I was a part of one of the Informed Citizenship Discussion Groups at OU. We met weekly to discuss various issues and events going on in the international community. Generally, we would read an article before meeting and then would have an intelligent discussion about that article. I particularly enjoyed my group because everyone was respectful of each other’s opinions but at the same time, we were willing to challenge each other’s opinions. I learned a lot about other ways of thought and I learned how to be more open minded. Overall, this group brought a lot of intellectual growth to me over the course of the semester.
Just this week, North Korea released three American prisoners. This event is significant because North Korea generally is not sympathetic to Americans. This if the first tangible gesture North Korea has taken to signal a willingness to work with Americans. Furthermore, releasing the prisoners came just before a meeting between North Korea and the United States to improve relations. This shows that Kim Jong-Un may be more inclined towards negotiating with the United States. However, future nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the US may be more difficult after we just left the Iran deal.
Recently, President Trump announced that the US is leaving the Iran Nuclear Deal and will be reinforcing sanctions on Iran. President Trump claimed that he was fulfilling his campaign promise by pulling out of what he claims was an unfair deal and that he is maintaining his hardline approach to negotiations. I am incredibly saddened that we have left the agreement because it indicates our unwillingness to compromise with foreign nations to promote peace. I personally thought each side of the deal was fair and that it did a good job of enforcement. The deal called for rigorous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and stripped away sanctions Western powers had placed on Iran. I am most upset because the deal took a long time to negotiate and it will be difficult to create a similar deal that will lead to nuclear disbarment.
I also attended the Arabic Talent show where many students from various Arabic classes at OU performed. The performances included students showing videos of skits they had made, students singing songs in Arabic, and students reading poetry. My favorite performance was a group of students who made a comical skit about how the Arabic class they were supposed to take was cancelled because not enough students signed up for it. They joked about how without Arabic class, their time at OU would be incomplete. One thing that I particularly noted was that each performance included the perspectives of different countries in the Middle East. Oftentimes, people tend to group the countries of the Middle East together, claiming that they are very homogenous. However, after viewing these performances, you quickly realize that each country in the Middle East is unique.
This semester, I attended an event where the ambassador from Ireland to the Southwest United States discussed the implications of Brexit for Ireland. He emphasized that Ireland was opposed to Brexit and that it wishes to remain in the European Union. He explained that Ireland hopes to maintain a close relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. He explained that Ireland will be most hurt economically by Brexit because Ireland was one of the main trading partners with the United Kingdom. This helps to explain why Ireland would want to maintain a very close relationship with the United Kingdom. Attending this discussion was very interesting because I normally have heard about Brexit from the perspective of the United Kingdom. However, this discussion was solely from the perspective of Ireland. Ultimately, I learned a lot about how Ireland will react to Brexit and how it will continue its relationship with the United Kingdom.
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.