Harvard Law School with Sam Harris

I attended my former Resident Advisor and former IA executive member, Sam Harris’ event concerning her experiences as both a law school applicant as well as a 1st year law student. This event was on January 16th at Hagerty Hall 180 and counts for my academic requirement. 

 

As most of International Affairs knows, Sam is currently at Harvard University for Law school and the event was centered around her experiences. I am considering going to law school so I was very excited to hear about this opportunity as I will take any advice I can get. I am having some difficulty researching law schools and their requirements as most schools are not super transparent about the process, especially when it comes to the LSAT. Sam helped to clear up some of my confusion and was able to shed some light on the application and interview process as a whole. Prior to this event, I wasn’t aware of just how important it will be to be a very well-rounded candidate when applying to law school. 

 

Although hearing from Sam was intimidating, she also provided some reassurance, especially since she is a law student right now. I was worried she would tell me that she regrets her decision to become a lawyer but instead she said although it can be scary at times, it is certainly a manageable experience. Sam also discussed the importance of mental health while she is at Harvard and how she manages to stay afloat. This is particularly pertinent on a college campus as mental health is a constant struggle for many students, especially as important life decisions, such as law school, as they near closer. Sam remains sane because of her dog Hugo’s constant love and company. 

 

As I would eventually like to end up in the public sector either working for the government or as a civil rights defender, a law degree will be necessary in order to defend people’s civil rights. My eventual dream would be to work or intern for the state department so it is very crucial that I apply myself properly during my undergraduate career so I can be successful and be accepted into a competitive law program. Being involved on campus will play a key role in making me stand out as a holistic candidate. 

 

There are still so many questions I have concerning a future potential career with the law considering everyone I have spoken to has a different take on the profession. Many attorneys have told me that law school was an invaluable experience while others have said it was their biggest regret. With so many conflicting opinions, it’s different to form my own. Luckily, I have a lot more time to make up my mind and decide if this path is really right for me. Sam’s advice on this front proved invaluable and I will definitely take what I learned from her and use it when I begin applying. 

Huck House Service Event

The Event I attended was The Huck House Service day event on Saturday, November 2 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. This event fulfills my service requirement.

The event was centered around supporting and helping those currently living at Huck House. Huck House provides refuge for teenagers exclusively, who have been impacted by some form of domestic violence, parental abuse or any other struggles at home. For many teenagers, it is a safe space for them to come to when they no longer feel comfortable remaining at home. Some come of their own volition and others are dropped off by their parents. Because these children are minors, if they were to come on their home, the staff at Huck House are required to get consent from their parents in order to house them. One goal for those living in Huck House is to get them back with their families and their homes if reconciliation is possible. It is meant to be a temporary home where they are able to regain some stability and eventually return to their lives. The staff and leaders wholeheartedly want the kids to have a good relationship with their families, if at all possible.

The teenagers living there are given hot meals, activities, and are expected to carry their weight around the house to keep it orderly. While we were there, we helped them to clean up a bit and to sort various items that had been donated. They are always in need or donations since teenagers run through things pretty quick such as deodorant and shampoo. I really enjoyed being able to sort through the donated things because I never thought about the importance of the little things, such as these products.

It was so important for me to be able to attend a service event such as this because the people living here are so close to my age. We may often feel very disconnected from one another, specifically those in need, but going to Huck House reminded me how vital it is to support members of my community in any way I can. Although there are those in need internationally, there are also those in need in right in our neighborhood who are just like like anyone else. The only difference is they are experiencing much more difficult lives at home that are affecting their ability to do well in school and live the life of any other normal teenager. I think it’s vital that we all try our best to interact with our community as much as possible in order to really engage with the members of that community. It’s easy to get sucked into the bubble that is Ohio State while never once stepping out of my comfort zone so this trip to Huck House served as a bit of a wake up call for me. I found the experience very impactful and I hope to be able to return and help out again or donate anything I can to help these teenagers lead the lives they want to

Bittersweet Waters

The event I attended was centered around the film Bittersweet Waters/Agua Agridulce, directed by Jesús Canchola Sánchez in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month on October 15th in Stillman Hall . The film told the story of a young gay man named Atl, who is oppressed by both his community and his own family due to his sexuality. As shown in the movie, many of the more progressive cities in Mexico have legalized same sex marriage and the LGBTQ community is able to face less discrimination because of it. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the more rural, conservative communities that are not accepting of anything less than a “traditional family” consisting of a husband and wife. Atl is in love with an engaged man that refuses to come out to the rest of the community. Although his fiancée suspects—and her suspicions are later confirmed—Diego believes he can have the best of both worlds by getting married to a woman while still maintaining his romantic relationship with Atl. Unfortunately, Atl wants more from life and is tired of the abuse from his mother and decides to leave the town to start anew somewhere else.

The best part of the discussion, in my opinion, was when the director stepped forward to speak about the making of the film and the audience discovered that he was also the lead actor we had just seen on screen. He is paving the way for many other stories similar to this one for people who may be too afraid to comment on a controversial and a not yet accepted way to love in Latinx communities. Jesús was able to use a medium that he was passionate about to present a controversial topic in a new and unique way. In the discussion part of the segment, he discussed what life was like for him during the shooting of this film and after. He revealed that the film was actually shot in the hometown of his grandfather in Mexico. He mentioned that although the scenes depicted were very rough and discriminatory, in reality the villagers welcomed him with open arms. When the crew didn’t have the proper setting for a scene or tools, the villagers opened their homes to him with astonishing hospitality. He mentioned that one of the most important messages he wanted to get across was that these topics need not be kept in the shadows anymore. The only way to get more people familiarized with the LGBTQ community is to make films such as Bittersweet Waters, and show them to as many people as possible.

Jesús is not in the filmmaking business to make money, in fact the entire production was funded by himself. He was the one who had to push film festival organizers to include his film in order to spread the word. This film and the discussion of this topic itself will have a profound impact on the international community, particularly within the Latinx population. We may believe we have fully progressed as Americans but with the current political climate, it feels as if we are taking giant leaps back. Because of this, Bittersweet Waters will remain relevant for many years to come.

IA mini-involvement fair

The event I attended was the mini international affairs involvement fair on September 11th.

I found the International Affairs mini- involvement fair to be both informative and representative of the many clubs on campus. I was very glad I decided to attend because it is difficult to find which clubs I’m really interested in the start of the year involvement fair, since it is quite overwhelming. There are so many options that it is hard to get a real grasp on which club may actually suit me in the long run. I was pleased to find out that there would be an opportunity to explore more of the clubs that may have interested me before but that I didn’t get a chance to visit. I was excited to be able to speak to club representatives/members one on one.

One club I found super interesting that seemed to have a large impact on campus was the Fashion Production Association. Their main goal is to provide students a platform to show their abilities and talents while having a creative outlet at the same time. Each year, the members split into groups and come up with a theme for the fashion show they put on at the end of the year. I found their mission to be particularly impactful because this year, the theme of the fashion show is to showcase a different social issue that is pertinent right now. After selecting a theme, they must find models and the designer has to craft an outfit to showcase their selection. I thought this was a unique and fun way to spread awareness about important issues while gaining professional skills and time management as well.

Another club I am interested in joining is the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA). Many people I know in International Affairs scholars are participants of this club and after speaking with their president, I can see why. Their impact on the Ohio State community and other communities is broad. They hold a sort of mock United Nations where they are able to tackle world issues while representing a nation. It is both an academic club, as well as a social club. I am planning on attending a meeting in order to get a better grasp on what they are all about and I am looking forward to the opportunity to broaden my knowledge on international affairs. I am glad I attended this event and plan on expanding my current involvement at Ohio State in order to more fully immerse myself in topics I am unfamiliar with. I think these clubs will offer me more opportunities to have a even more meaningful experience on campus and to continue to grow.

“Syrian Trajectories from Damascus to Euroland”

This event fulfills my Academic requirement and took place on April 12th in Pomerene Hall 260.

Dr. Hudson’s discussion on the Syrian refugee crisis covered a wide-range of topics, including her own perspective on the turmoil at hand. Her lecture delved into the lives of five sisters who grew up in Syria and had lived there for their whole lives. She had been very close to them since a young age and because of their relationship was able to document their lives closely as they prepared to make the long, illegal journey across the Aegean to Lebanon.

A main part of the sister’s stories was the difference in how they traveled versus many single men who had made the journey before them. Each sister had their own family to worry about transporting safely across the Aegean Sea as well as themselves. The women were in charge of securing all the documents they needed for the illegal trip ahead while the men worked the details out with the smugglers. Dr. Hudson helped each sister wrap all their important documents and items in cellophane in order to minimize the risk of them being destroyed by water on the trip. The women had sent ahead one of their brothers-in-law in order for him to acquire a job and gain a foothold in their new home. Unfortunately, as many do, his raft disappeared on the journey over and he was presumed dead. These women and their families were heading into Lebanon completely blind to what may lay ahead, other than the potential of arrest and death. From Lebanon, they planned to walk to Germany where refugees from Syrian were openly accepted and where they’d have an easier chance of gaining citizenship.

A theme that was emphasized by Dr. Hudson was the importance of family. If these women were not motivated by the need to get their children out of Syria and to safety, they most likely would not be risking their lives to leave. Unfortunately, throughout the grueling process the family began to fight and experience a lot of turmoil between the men, due to contrasting opinions on how they should proceed in such tense times. Because of these fights, the family grew apart and the sisters do not speak now.

I found it interesting how Dr. Hudson only discussed the happy endings instead of the negatives because she wanted to leave us all with hope for these people and a lot of guilt for the many assumptions we make about refugees. These often include discrimination based on fear of terrorism, that they are stealing jobs or that they are simply draining all of our resources when in fact, they are contributing to our economy by joining the workforce. This event had a strong impact on me due to the unique perspective the speaker offered. She shattered many biases such as, many people do not want to help refugees when they see them with cellphones or other electronics when in reality, they cannot survive without one. They must be in constant contact with their family abroad and smugglers in order to successfully arrange their passage. Without a cellphone they are stranded and we do not often take that into account. I loved this discussion and hope Dr. Hudson is able to use her voice to reach even more people to share these women’s stories.

International movie night and card making for the Columbus Global Academy

The event for this e-portfolio counts as a service requirement. It was held in the Smith side basement on February 11th.

I really enjoyed this event because although I am not the most creative or artistic person, I still enjoyed knowing the recipients of each card would appreciate the finished product. It was a very simple way to let the kids know at Columbus Global Academy that someone is thinking of them this Valentine’s day even if they can’t be with their family. I know I personally enjoy any form of love on a holiday that’s not that fun unless you have a significant other.

I thought it was entertaining to attempt to write hello and Happy Valentine’s Day in a different language when we were all so obviously clueless. We all sat at a table with google translate pulled out trying to write in some of the kid’s native languages. Although practically no one’s turned out well, it’s the thought that counts and I’m sure the kids will appreciate the effort.

This time also made me reflect on how lucky I am to be able to see my family whenever I want. I can’t imagine not being able to spend the holidays with them. Even some of my friends weren’t able to go home for the holidays because they live out of state. I’m not sure if all the kids at Columbus Global Academy were able to see their families but at the very least they’re in an unfamiliar setting. Even though we do not know the students personally or their lives, I hope our cards put a smile on their faces.

I also enjoyed the movie that was playing during the event. I find most foreign films enjoyable even if I can’t really understand the plot. It reminded me of a Chinese film I recently watched in my literature class titled, Soul Mate. It surrounded some Chinese stereotypes about family, love and life in general. I found it to be very informative while at the same time impactful due to the fast-moving storyline. I couldn’t really understand what was going on during the other film but I still enjoyed seeing the different cultures displayed. These types of films are a constant reminder of the bubble I live in. The kids at the Global Academy are in an unfamiliar place where they may not have known anyone who even spoke the same language as them when started school. I still remember when we all painted the mural for the school and how awesome it was knowing that we may brighten their day even a little when they passed it. I may not be able to make a huge impact in their lives but it was fun to try and connect with them in any way possible.

I apologize for the randomness of this reflection.

Gun control panel

I attended the Students/Moms demand action gun control panel. The event was held in Hitchcock hall from 3-5 pm on Saturday, February 13. This is my second non-IA for the missed meeting.

I have always felt a passion for gun control ever since the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary happened. It was always in the back of my mind but I had taken a very pessimistic stance on the issue in recent years. I felt lawmakers would never change their minds because if 20 elementary students could be senselessly murdered and congress do nothing, I felt no one would. I had learned in high school that the NRA had such a tight grip on Congress’ pockets that real change was likely never going to happen. Due to this realization, I focused more on issues I felt were more feasible which is why I’m glad I attended this event.
This panel definitely changed my mind about how I should be going about trying to affect change. If I just sit back and wait for someone else to take charge, nothing may ever change. That’s why I am so glad Mitchell was able to help organize this event and start a branch of Students Demand Action in order to do his part in the fight. I found each panelist’s story to be very impactful in their own ways because they each brought a different point of view. It was very disheartening to hear about the mom whose son and daughter were both murdered by a man who should not have been able to own a gun. After tragedy struck though, she did not give up. She started to get involved in her community and began a support group to help herself and others heal. She is still working to prevent more murders from happening.
It seems like everyday in the news there’s a new shooting that occurred whether it be in someone’s home, school or music festival, the massacres are never ending. There is so much change that needs to happen in order to prevent the wrong people from getting their hands on firearms. At the event, there was a huge emphasis placed on using your voice and your vote. Throughout history, the youth has been a massive force that has driven change in many ways. If we want anything to change we have to make the effort to call our local representatives or write them letters about the issues we feel are most important. Some of the panelists included: high schoolers, students from the University of Cincinnati and people impacted by gun violence firsthand. Each person brought a unique perspective to the issue and because of this they were able to shed some light on what is going on behind the scenes in the fight for stricter laws. I had not realized a “Stand Your Ground” bill was close to being passed in Ohio until it was mentioned by one of the Moms at the event. Some of the women in Moms Demand Action went to the hearing to use their voice to stop this bill from passing and they succeeded. This shows how every individual can have a huge impact, especially in our community.

Cinema Studies in the Era of Big Data

On January 18, I attended Dr. Allison Cooper’s discussion on “Cinema Studies in the Era of Big Data” to fulfill a non-IA requirement in Pomerene Hall. Dr. Cooper discussed many theories regarding how best to analyze the majority of films from other perspectives and her perspective as well. She noted how there is difficulty working with the private sector to overcome the challenges her work presents due to the unwillingness on their part to exchange information. For example, Netflix will be hard to work with because they are so protective of their advanced algorithm for finding out what consumers want in order to keep it out of the hands of other streaming services. Dr. Cooper is currently working on a massive project that will help to overcome the shortcomings of natural language. Many thinkers within film studies believe natural language is inadequate at expressing everything. The current project she is working on getting fully developed is Kino Lab. Once it is fully up and running to the public, it will serve as a content management system. The object of this project is to make films more accessible to the public without the pesky ads of Youtube or monetary motivations of big streaming services. Dr. Cooper also mentioned another helpful tool that is a contrast to a synometric, called Tableu. It provides distant viewing through video analysis.

 

Many interesting questions were brought up during the lecture by other attendees such as what sort of ethical issues this will present. Some did not agree with Dr. Cooper’s assessment of the current film community and their recent accomplishments. Cooper admitted that if not for the recent changes in copyright laws, the system she is working on getting up and running would not be possible because it would be considered illegal streaming. Luckily, the revised laws have allowed her to develop this program at full force and with a renewed interest from the community that would like to contribute. Before attending the session, I had practically zero interest in the topic of discussion but Dr. Cooper really delved into the importance of this project and how it will greatly broaden the knowledge of their audience. My beliefs did not change at all because I also agree with Dr. Cooper that the exchange of algorithms with Netflix would be a positive experience for both parties. Streaming services have put video stores out of business and soon TVs may be obsolete. That’s why it would be very beneficial for both the national and international community to have an affordable and educational alternative. This is very relevant to my class Mafia in Film because it would be beneficial to have free access to the films combines with descriptors of some techniques used.

Tree of Hope mural

The service event I attended was the Tree of Hope mural painting for the Community Refugee and Immigration Services on Sunday, December 2nd.

When we arrived at the school for the service project, a large portion of the mural had already been painted and filled in so by the end we were able to see the near end result. At first glance, I was not entirely sure what the mural was supposed to be but as we began painting the rest, the image really began to take shape. It depicted a heartwarming tale of many cultures coming together right here in Columbus. Not only was it a representation of the students who attended school at CGA but it represented how these student’s stories converged here in America. No matter what these kids had gone through in their home countries or the struggles their parents faced, they were able to find a home through CRIS and begin to start a new life. I think this mural is just a piece of this fresh start for these kids. Being able to walk from one class to the next and be reminded of their culture, will have an impact on their day to day lives. Not only do they get to have a small memory of home right there in the hallway, but they are able to witness some parts of their friends and fellow student’s culture as well. This encourages the exchange and enrichment of new stories and ideas.

When Jermey and the artists were explaining the main idea behind the mural, I was very moved by their motivation to make even the smallest impact on these refugees’ and immigrant’s lives. I think it’s easy to forget just how hard it is for these kids to be where they are now. So to think about the constant struggles they face everyday of adjusting to their new lives and on top of that experiencing the difficulties of middle school that every teenage faces, it’s difficult for me to imagine being in their shoes. Something as small as a painting may not seem to have that large of an impact but to me, it represents something far greater. The whole goal of this school is to help these kids assimilate easier into a life where everything is new and this mural can only benefit them.

This topic relates to one of my history classes that studies the childhood of children all over the world, especially immigrant children who have come to America with their parents who are searching for a better life. Many of these kids in history ended below the poverty line and without proper schooling due to a lack of resources and opportunity. This is why I believe this school and CRIS as a whole is so important. These kids only need to be given a chance in order to succeed and CRIS is helping them accomplish their goals, firsthand. Overall, this experience was beneficial for me because I was able to learn more about the Columbus Global Academy’s mission and how I can contribute to further enriching these kid’s lives.

Cultural Enrichment

The event I attended was on October 30 in one of the meeting rooms on the first floor on the Steeb side. I found out about the event through one of the RAs on our floor, Wentao. It fulfills the non-IA participation requirement. The event was sponsored by a program called Cultural Ambassador for Resident Enrichment (CARE). The main draw for me was the free Cane’s that was provided at the event but as we began hearing from the speaker, Sean, I realized the importance of the topic he was discussing.

What I found most impactful was the message Sean was trying to convey about how important it is to be aware of different cultures and their customs. In the beginning of the presentation, a video was shown depicting three women bowing on the ground and then picking a man to sit in a chair. They then fed him and bowed next to him. To pretty much everyone in the room it was clear this was a male dominated culture, or so we thought. I figured because the women were bowing on the ground while the men were seated in a chair, it was an act of obedience and respect from the women. Something I didn’t notice that was very key to their culture was that the women were barefoot during their worship and the men were wearing shoes. As it turned out, the women were actually higher up within this particular culture. They were not wearing shoes because they were permitted to touch the holy ground while the men were not. I never would’ve guessed that was the case, based on the video. Due to the patriarchy we live in, we all assumed the man would be in charge because instead of viewing the ground as holy, we view it as a sign of submission.

This video and the discussion as a whole had a big impact on me because I realized my own prejudices and biases that I was bringing to the table when discussing intersectionality. When Sean was discussing his profession and what his life was like in the international community, I realized just how little I know about other cultures. Each time he received a new diplomat at the hotel he managed in China, he needed to learn all of their customs and what was considered appropriate. He lost a five hundred thousand dollar deal because he was a single minute late to the bidding session. It did not matter that he had a close personal relationship with the company, with that one mistake a huge deal was jeopardized. I found this particular account impactful because I do not usually think about the severe consequences some of these actions could have. I think it’s important for each person to be an advocate for anyone they can. We have so many international students on Ohio State’s campus yet many of us haven’t bothered to get to know them or their diverse backgrounds. We all must do our part to get more exposure to other cultures or we will never be successful within the field of international affairs.