Spanish Club

This year I stated Beginners Spanish and around the second or third week, I had finally heard that Spanish club would begin. I really wanted to be apart of it because I really wanted to immerse myself in as much of the language as I could. The first meeting I went to the had some pizza and the Coke that in a bottle with the real cane sugar, the imported stuff. This was a real big plus because I grew up in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and would always get those cokes down the road from where lived at the gas station. Everyone seems to be grouped by level of speaking so natural I went to the beginner’s table. But we were immediately mixed up so we could play a few games and they didn’t want one group of advanced speakers playing against a group of beginners. We ended playing “Hangman”, in Spanish that is, and that was pretty fun although I couldn’t spell much. My team ended up winning one round so we all got starbursts. Other than that we just picked a movie to watch next weeks meeting, we picked “Pan’s Labyrinth” , which is one of my favorite movies.

Building Islands

Every now and then I’ll be browsing the web and a video or article will catch my attention I will read and/or watch it and it will have more interested than others. Here one a blog about just that.

The South China Sea is disputed territory with five countries, the Spratlys Islands in particular. The South China Sea is valuable for many reasons; a very sizable amount of oil and natural, key fisheries, as well as an important trade route for airways and waterways. The UN state that about 250 nautical miles off your own country’s coastline is also exclusively your country’s territory. For the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam or Taiwan this is not really a problem and most abide by these rules, except for China who claims a historical right to the sea by their 9 dash line that covers about 90% of the sea.

In fact, in the past year, China has changed reefs into islands by moving massive amounts of send and sentiment from the seafloor to the reef beds. Within the Spratlys, China has built seven new islands in the region which has caused more tensions with all of the mentioned countries as well as the United States. Mostly due to, that on the Islands China has built facilities, airstrips, ports, and military buildings on the newly created Islands. Many believe that this is all preemptive strategy for the eventual take of the Spratlys. But China assures that it is not.

DMZ crossing

Early November I remember just scrolling through some apps you know looking at memes and reading articles, passing the time. Then I saw a video about how a North Korean soldier crossed the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North Korea from South Korea. It starts with “The defector made a daring escape crossing the heavily armored DMZ” and well that’s exactly what he did.

For me, it just did not seem real because he just jumped in a car then drove as far as he could, until he got stuck. Albeit, not very far from the line that separates the two sides. Where he ran for his life to the other side, by now a few of the North Korean soldiers have caught up and begin shooting him with pistols and AK-47s. Later I found out they fired around 40 times at him. He was only hit five times and was able to lay in cover till a few South Korean soldiers pulled him into safety.

 

Under the Tuscan Sun

I had the extreme pleasure to be in the President’s Leadership Class (PLC) during my freshmen year and one of the many opportunities I was able to take advantage of was taking a two-week course in Arrezo. Our group was divided into two sub-groups of forty and one group would travel to Florence, Seana, and Rome for a week then the other would stay the whole week in Arrezo, then switch. The program was aptly named PLC in Arrezo. The class that our group was taking was called “Roman Empire: Images of Power”, the basic overview of the class is that we learned a brief history of the Roman Empire then looked at art that was made before, during, and after the empire. I believe it fell somewhere in-between an art history class and then a basic history class.

My group spent our first week in Arrezo living in the Monastery OU has there in town, a special thing to note is that OU learning center in Arrezo is located in the historical center and is within Medieval walls! I was an amazing thing to wake up to the scenery of cobblestone roads and buildings. One thing that I will never forget is food and wine, we received vouchers at numerous local restaurants that had amazing local food, the sandwiches were out of this world. My favorite meal for dinner was veal, any style was a good style and red wine. Oh my gosh, I will never stop thinking about the wine, on a special occasion went to a vineyard and went wine tasting. To this day I will never not do the full action of looking for color, swirling the spirit for the smell, but do not forget after swirling to take a look at the spirit’s legs to check for quality, and then finally a sip then breath to figure the body and taste of wine when I consume the drink of the Gods.

The second week, my group traveled to three cities in six days. Our first stop was Florence, where we stayed two days, and I must say that Florence really is the leather capital of Italy. If I ever get a chance to go back I will buy as much leather products as I can, because you can barter for prices get stuff 90% off. Next, we traveled to Sena for one day and one night, it was a pleasant place nice town but I must say their desserts were amazing. For the remainder of the trip, we stayed in Rome and saw the sites, visited the Vatican.

Overall, my trip to Italy was the best time in my life and I can not wait to travel again. What was really special was experiencing everything for the first time or doing something normal but in a foreign country.

German Opportunities Fair

I remember it like it was yesterday (it was), a few of my friends and I were sitting outside the American Indian Student Association (AISA) office and were wondering what to do before our night classes and meetings. Most of us had around two hours to kill and did not want to go back home because we would have to turn around as soon as we got there to attend class or club meetings. In our desperation we began looking for events and free food, it was then I remembered that it was Germany Week. We were located in the Archie W. Dunham-Conoco Student Leadership Center a separate wing of the union (a very reclusive part of the union, most students have no idea where this is located) and lo and behold an opportunity to learn about study abroad, internships, and other opportunities regarding Germany and OU, as well as free food was just a four minute walk away.

We jumped at the chance to go and showed promptly at 5:34 pm just four minutes late, right on time. The pizza was good the speaker superb and the information invaluable, although I really only stopped at the study aboard booth I still learned a lot. After attending I believe I may have the interest to take one semester of German so that I could spend a summer in Germany, as the only requirement is the semester of the language. I would love to be immersed in the culture and it has always been my dream to spend an afternoon at an authentic German beer garden. I do see the immeasurable value of learning abroad and unforgettable experiences that could be had and I must say I have been tempted. I would say that it is now a personal goal to study or at the very least visit Germany and experience it to the fullest, if not today one day.

Signing Off,

Lance Harden

International Prom

On the night of Friday, October 6th, the International Advisory Committee (IAC) held an International Prom with the theme of Hollywood Night. The appetizers were pretty good I believe it was chips and dip which was acceptable or typical of a prom. I believe the idea was to show a view of the American sub-culture of High School Proms, I do believe that they were pretty close in terms of environment. Although the vibe was much better instead of a mix of young adults and pre-teens it was a nice gathering of young adults of varied cultures and backgrounds. Which was really cool in my perspective because there was a good mix of American pop music with a conglomerate of foreign music. At times I was really out of my element because I did not know who to dance to the beat because I had never heard such rhythm. My only regret was that I had to leave before they announced who was Prom King & Queen because of prior commitments. Overall I really had fun, met some very interesting people, and was able to catch up with some friends I had not seen since last year.

You can definitely catch me at the next International Prom in 2k18!

Signing off,

Lance Harden

Ram!

Okay so some pretext to this post. At the beginning of the year I signed up for OU cousins and beyond excited to be paired up with an international student. The first problem arose when there was a problem with in info meeting (which was required) I attended but something went wrong with the system and a few people were not counted, including me. I was able to prove I was there but because of me being put in the system later I was not matched with a cousin. Okay, now fast forward to the week of Thanksgiving I receive and email saying that I am not match with an OU cousin and get his number. Now Ram works a lot and is only free usually when I am busy, so a week goes by and we just can not meet up and then dead week and finals come up on us and meeting is just nearly impossible, nearly. So finally on the last Wednesday of the semester we are able to go do something together. We find out we both love movies, especially cult films and in general connect very well. I am very excited to spend more time with Ram next semester and depending on how much room my family has this break he may be able to visit my hometown of Pawhuska over break and I will be able to show him the lesser known Oklahoma.

ISSB

On my last trip to an event I attended an interest meeting for the International Students Speakers Bureau on Friday the ninth of December. Although I was a little late and only caught the end of one presentation I learned a little about Slovak culture. Mostly facts about the country as well as a few facts on Slovakian immigrants and famous people of Slovakian heritage or descent.

As always I tested out the cuisine provided, this time around it was a lot more informal and mostly on the snake side of the food spectrum. That being said it was festive time no doubt with warm apple cider, hot chocolate, sugar cookies, and apples. I was happy being they handed my a box cookies and said they had gotten to much, I am always happy to take home leftovers.

Before I could leave, I begin to talk to a few the members about their organization and such, before I knew it I had been there an extra hour. It was the presenter from the Slovak presentation, she had peaked my interest when she begin to speak about the troubles from her homeland. Such atrocities as relocation, assimilation, and alienation from the government. I was surprised to finding this things out, I knew life was not good every where but as she pointed out you have to have a particular interest in Slovakia to learn about Slovakia so I never knew about it more than just the name.

I always feel a hunger when learning about new things, cultural, and people and this interaction has made me famished. I find it very important to learn the history from both sides of the story. And at this event I feel as heard the more commonly less known story, I was left with more questions than answers and to me that is the sign of a successful interest meeting.

 

Arabic Flagship Program

On the night of the second in December I attended the spectacle that was the Arabic Flagship Fall Talent Show. This event like many other I went to the group hosting it would translate most pieces but in all was mostly spoken in Arabic. I admire this type of immersion and I can why the program is so successful with the learning rate of the language and culture.

Of course I need to address the highlight of the event for me personal, which was the dinner provided. This meal was catered by OU and absolutely delectable. Main course was extremely pleasing and I quite liked the rice and humus provided. Another favorite of mine was the hot tea, I do believe I had around four or five cups as I am avid tea drinker and the tea served was of the highest caliber.

Besides the food, the event on a whole was marvelous consisting of poems, videos, and performances. I especially liked the videos and could see the effort put in to them, when they were trying to be funny it translated very well and made the experience a memorable one. Not to forget the performances, mostly the performances were belly dancers and this was exciting to watch especially knowing that the performers had been practicing all semester and the work had really played off. I found it fun to clap along with music as it made the experience a little more lively and enjoyable. Although my favorite piece of the night was a short film “The Lord of the Homework”, the film itself was a parody of the Lord of the Rings movies. I really found this one to extremely funny as they hit some the original films classic scenes and was able to put a twist on to fit their story.

I was tremendously impressed with the program on a whole, within the program I could see a type of close community that made the event special in my eyes. When I first heard of the event I really did not know what to expect, I mean whenever I told people where I was going there was a look of curiosity and interest. I believe the fact that to me and my knowledge of the global community I could guess what to expect, but I kept an open mind, but I really had no context to go on. Now I believe I been shown this whole new culture and has sparked more interest, with this interest I would like to research more with culture or at very least attend next years talent show as well.

SPE’s International Mixer

The Society of Petroleum Engineers(SPE) hosted a mixer on the 2nd of December, in the Sarkeys Energy Center, room N202. The flyer promised Hideaway pizza, drinks, and fun games. A few things to note beforehand, I did have an interest in engineering and received their event invites and went to a few club meetings as well, but the main point I want to get across is that I am not trying stereotype engineers in any way. That being said I really did not know what to expect, except some food and games.

When I was a Sophomore in highschool I attended an engineering camp here at OU for multicultural students and for the most part everyone had about the same personality even though we had all come from diverse backgrounds. We talked ‘nerd’ stuff, played with legos (late into the night), and on a few occasions we even talked to girl campers. The mixer was pretty close to that, I tried to enter a few card games with some students but they were standoffish so I just mingled around. Another thing to note was the event started at 5, I arrived at 5ish, and in the beginning there was a large group but after fifteen minutes the bulk had gotten what they came for, Hideaway. The ones who had stayed were either officers in SPE or friends with them and were just using this time to spend time with each other. I was able to talk to a few international students and they all said about the same thing, “OU is good in engineering and that is why I am here.” Now I can not recall exactly was said so long at camp but I am pretty sure that was the main reason for most of the campers spending their summer doing math.

So I was able to leave with wider eyes, understanding that just because someone is from a different culture or country it does not mean necessarily they are different. In fact the time I have spent here at OU and exploring the international community I found that we as people have more things in common than not and it is the not that makes us seem foreign.