IA Spring 2020 Reflection 3

Emma Brunst


For the final IA requirement for the strange and unprecedented Spring 2020 semester, I chose to listen to Allison Spicer’s DAAD Rise Info Session. Allison is a fourth year Industrial and Systems engineering major within Ohio State’s College of Engineering. During this information session, she described this german academic exchange program, which is federally and state funded to give students a new academic experience. Allison completed a summer research position in Germany under a PhD student at one of the local universities. The students are matched with a host student to work under and to explore the city with if they would like. The students are given a monthly stipend (about 750 euros/month) to assist with living expenses and scholarships are available for the program itself. 

Allison’s specific position was a sustainable process engineer at a paint manufacturing plant. She studied and researched different applications and details about the uses and applications of paints and what their impact was on the environment. She was at a technical university in Braunschweig, Germany from May-August of 2019. She described in detail the extensive application/interview process and how the decisions will be made as well as the due dates. The project leads will review all the applications and will rank the potential students on a scale and will then proceed after the ranking is complete.

An experience like this for a current IA student as well as potential future IA students is extraordinary for their schooling, careers, and personal life. This allows the student to fully immerse themselves into another culture for an entire summer as well as advancing their school work as well. In Allison’s case, she was able to pursue an interest in the engineering field as well as learn new things about the German culture. After hearing about her experience, I will most definitely look more into this program and possibly apply in the future!

Environmental Film Series: Ice on Fire

Emma Brunst


February 9


Immediately after I saw the IA weekly update, I knew I wanted to go to this event. One of the environmental film series movies was focusing on climate change and the implications of our actions. For my first entry of the semester, I saw the documentary “Ice on Fire” that discussed the climate crisis we are currently in and some of the leading contributors to climate change. The film was on January 28th and I was genuinely surprised by how many students, faculty, and others were there for the film. The movie has become highly rated and was sponsored and narrated by Leoardo DiCaprio. Following the documentary, there was an associate professor from the department who spoke briefly about his thoughts and added some additional information to the audience.  In the last year, I have learned so much about the climate crisis and started acting on it myself in whatever little ways I can. I stopped eating meat, use reusable bags and water bottles, and I carry my own silverware around campus so I don’t have to use plastic silverware. Although these are all very small contributions, it can make a larger impact over time! In the documentary, they discussed some of the problems, but they also offered possible solutions. I found it chilling and disgusting that the only reason non-reusable energy is still being so widely used is because governments and large corporations have already invested their money in this and don’t want to lose profit. My favorite solution that was discussed was essentially a large filter that collects air, filter out the carbon dioxide, and then sends the carbon dioxide to a greenhouse to be used for the plants. Therefore, the plants give off oxygen which is then released back into the atmosphere. I also learned that if the planet raises 2 degrees celsius, the polar ice caps will melt and therefore flooded many major cities and states throughout the world (New York City, Florida, etc.). Because of documentaries and research like this, I have learned so much about what our planet is experiencing and what can be done to stop this damage on a corporate and personal scale. 

Now, how does this relate to international affairs? It is simple; global climate issues are everyone’s issue. Regardless of country, religion, political party, global climate change is here and something must be done about it. There is no escaping this one or paying a certain amount of money. I read a quote once saying “After the last tree has died, the last stream is gone, and the last fish is dead, people will realize that you cannot eat money.” Especially today, we must work together to stop climate change from getting worse than it already has become. I genuinely wish more people/corporations would be more involved and aware of what is going on because many are uneducated on the topic. The only way to stop this is to actively educate yourself and make the small changes in your daily routine that will eventually make all the difference. 

IA AU19 Reflection #3

Emma Brunst

IA Reflection #3 

For my third and final IA reflection of the autumn semester, I went to the Engineers Without Borders information session in the Smith-Steeb glass classroom. On November 12th, I was one of the 3 IA students that went this information session to learn about the on-campus organization to fulfill the academic requirement. The president of the club actually happened to be a past-IA student and has wanted to get more students involved in some way and has wanted to present to us for a while. They presented a small powerpoint and showed us a TED talk that described failure and the first key to success is admitting that you failed. This TED talk described a few missionary efforts to bring water or other resources to underprivileged communities eventually failed because there was no maintenance schedules or funds for the projects. Some of the most prestigious and wealthy companies began admitting their failures, how they have learned from them, and what they are going to do differently. This video related to Engineers without Borders because they provide funding, ideas, and actual labor for applying engineering solutions to underprivileged communities. The Ohio State chapter is part of the national organization and there is also a Canadian section of this organization. Their current international project for OSU students is located in Gambia, Africa trying to bring sustainable water sources for the villagers and agricultural purposes. In addition to their international project, there is also a marketing sector of the club, as well as a local portion. The marketing aspect allows students of many other majors to get involved without having the engineering background. The local projects allows students to stay involved with their community and actually see progression because of their work. I have done projects similar to this one and it helps give everything that you are learning a purpose. It makes all the long school days and projects have a meaning because someone’s life is directly impacted. 

After going to their information session, I became genuinely interested in joining the club and figuring out how I can do more. I plan on trying to go to their weekly meetings next semester and joining the local team to do more within the Columbus community. This can directly relate to international affairs because we are working to better the local community as well as work on larger projects globally. This emphasized new practices and applications of engineering that I have not thought about or even learned about that can be very beneficial for me in my future as an engineer. The presenters were engineering majors as well and I would have loved to ask the students how it has impacted them and how they are going to use this in their future jobs and/or life. Despite their busy classes and schedules, they made time for Engineers without Borders and it is paying off and they are glad they made the time investment. Overall, I am very glad that I went to this information session and am excited to see where it takes me in my undergraduate career.

E-Portfolio #2 AU 2019

Emma Brunst

E-Portfolio Entry #2

As this semester is almost half over, I was able to complete my service requirement for International Affairs Program. A few other students and I volunteered at the Highlights’ Kid’s Run in downtown Columbus. We completed this event on October 19, 2019 for the service portion of IA. The highlight kids run was the precursor for kids of the Columbus Marathon! The kids were divided into their age ranges and the race for them ranged from a Diaper Dash to a 0.8 mile run for the older kids. We went downtown in the morning and were involved with the volunteer team to help set up the race.  Before the race, there were many activities to keep the kids entertained including face painting, coloring, and games! We helped with the games for about an hour and then went to help organize the race. During the actual race, we kept people organized and cheered on the kids as they ran their race. There was some down time between the races so I was able to talk to the kids and families and learn a little about them. My favorite part of the whole day was seeing a young girl running with her family and service dog. She was in the 7-8 age range and was able to run the entire race with the community cheering her on as she crossed the finish line. I personally love doing events like this because it brings the entire community together for times like these. Everyone was so ecstatic and the kids got the meet other kids their age. Overall, it was a great morning and I was glad I was able to volunteer with this event!

This type of service event did not directly relate to international affairs, but it was involved the community and everyone coming together for a day for a specific reason. In my opinion, international affairs can be a large-scale as country relations or as small as communities interacting with each other. This was a perfect example of the latter half, were people can have a direct impact on others. This did not change any previous opinions that I had, but reaffirmed what I was thinking. I was curious to know some of the diversity facts about the Columbus area and 116,000 people living in Columbus area foreign-born and also has an extremely large LGBTQ+ community and was rated one of the best cities in the U.S. for them. I have learned that Columbus is an extremely diverse population and is doing an amazing job or fostering the ancestry of everyone while creating a new community. In the future, I would really love to become more involved with events like this and continue to volunteer with my IA’s peers and friends!

2019 Campus E-Portfolio

Emma Brunst

E-Portfolio 2019 #1

For the first E-Portfolio of the 2019-2020 school year, I was able to fulfill my campus requirement while learning very useful information for myself to be able to travel abroad. Not only did I learn information about it, but also where to start and how to make it a possibility. Education is a universal language that can unite all different types of people. On September 12th, from 2-6 in the Union, the Office of International Affairs, organized an Education Abroad Expo for students to learn more information about traveling abroad through Ohio State. Once I walked into the Archie Griffin Ballroom in the Union, a student handed us a map of the room to figure out where exactly to go which was very helpful because I was by myself. They had specific tables for different majors or interests. Some examples of the tables were Public Health, Nursing, Peace Corps, as well as Semester at Sea, STEP, and many others. As an engineering student, I was very interested in the engineering opportunities that were offered. I have been very interested in studying abroad since last semester, so I was somewhat familiar with the possible trips before going to the expo, but I still wanted to learn more information. I went to the engineering table and talked to a representative from the department. I just asked some introductory questions and we talked about engineering for a while as well. One very important piece of information I learned was that these trips can be funded through STEP which is something else that I am in on campus. They offered more in-depth and extensive information for the specific program at an information session later in the semester. There are 4 offered for engineering-Castles and Cathedrals in Wales, Engineering service-learning in Ghana, Engineering of Ancient Greece, and Humanitarian Engineering in Ghana. These programs are all sponsored by Ohio state to travel with a staff member or graduate student as well as the group of students. I plan on attending the info session for Engineering of Ancient Greece, where students travel to Athens and other Grecian Islands to learn about the engineering and archeological sites in Greece and how these wonders were created. I have been very interested in doing this and now that this can be funded through STEP, it makes it very possible for me!

This relates to the topic international affairs because students are having the opportunity to travel abroad and experience different cultures, food, and people in the process. I know a fair amount of my peers that would love to travel abroad, either for education or career purposes or just to experience a new way of living. I would love to be able to explore the world with some on my fellow classmates, while learning and making new memories in a new part of the world. I have traveled abroad before with my family, but I think that studying abroad would be extremely different than anything I have experienced before.

Final IA Reflection

Emma Brunst

Non-IA/Community Reflection

For my last and final IA requirement for my freshman year of college, I decided to volunteer my time on the morning of Saturday April 13th. I signed up to make blankets for 2 hours for homeless or stray animals in the Columbus area. The event was called “Blankets for Buddies” and I was at the Honors and Scholars House from 10 A.M. – 12 P.M. This was part of the Honors College Community Day, as a way for students to help serve their community and learn more about the Columbus area. There was a multitude of events that one could participate in during the day. I volunteered for the first shift, which was making blankets for homeless animals. The next shift was called “Leading Well,” as a way for students to learn about personal and professional wellness and how it impacts our ability to succeed. The next event, starting at 3 P.M., was called “Zoo to You” and allowed students to learn more about exotic animals and be able to interact with them. Lastly, the final event of the day was sunset yoga, for a 1 hour, outdoor yoga session (with instruction and guidance for beginners). This was the first Community Day for the Honors and Scholars college, so the supervisors were trying some new things and getting feedback from the students to see if they enjoyed themselves.

One of the girls in my sorority, Natalie, volunteered with me before we went to the spring game. When we arrived at the house, there were about 20 other students there to volunteer as well. We all signed in and were escorted to the kitchen for a small breakfast. The provided coffee and buckeye donuts for the volunteers. After a small breakfast, we began the blanket making. Each volunteer made about 1-2 blankets from a piece of fabric with small cuts on all the sides that would then be tied together. There were multiple designs and sizes for animals of all sizes as they were going to be donated to a shelter. Honestly, it was tedious work but I knew it was going toward a good cause and I got to meet some new people through the volunteering.

Even though this was an extremely small event, I still think it made a difference to the shelter and the dogs that the blankets were going to. It does not relate directly to international affairs on a global scale, but it does on a local scale for the city of Columbus. I grew up with animals and have volunteered multiple times at my local ASPCA. It absolutely breaks my heart seeing all the homeless animals in the cold and harsh weather, so I try to do whatever I can to help this cause. I genuinely enjoyed this event and I am going to try to stay connected to the organization in the future. As I become a more experienced volunteer, I have learned that is not about how large or publicized the volunteering event is, but about what you personally get from it and the impact it makes on the community.

IA Service Reflection

Emma Brunst

IA Service Reflection

For my service requirement, I was fortunate enough to volunteer at the Star House right in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to going to the facility, I did not know too much about their services and who they serve. Their target audience is homeless youth in the Columbus area, ages 14-24 specifically, and they have been opened since October of 2006. Their original mission was to “examine strategies to engage, treat, and reintegrate substance-abuse homeless youth to the mainstream” (Star House Website). They offer resource such as “housing, clinical therapy, and employment opportunities” (Star House Website). In addition to these physical resources they also offer behavioral, social, and healthcare services to their guests’ wellbeing. A very peculiar fact that I remember about the shelter is that guests are not allowed to lay down while they are there. Many guests will sit at a table and sleep or sleep standing up, but they aren’t allowed to lay down and sleep. The founder of the Star House is Natasha Slesnick, PhD who is a current professor of Human Development and Family Science at Ohio State. She has been working and advocating for homeless youth since 1998. She has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health in order to learn more about homeless youth and how this situation can be prevented in the future. This home currently is the only drop-in center for youth in central Ohio and the surrounding areas. In 2018, more than 1,000 individuals and their children were served in a multitude of different ways. Based on the previous information, Star House is an amazing middle ground for young adults trying to get back on their feet. It is a nonprofit organization, and they are constantly looking for volunteers and donations in order to continuing serving the community!

A group of about 10 IA Scholars and myself went on February 16, 2019 from 11 A.M. to noon. Luckily, our service coordinator planned a bus ride so everything was planned and we were ready to volunteer. Once we got there, the volunteer coordinator introduced herself and a little about Star House and immediately started us on our work. Our IA group was accompanied by a Neuroscience group from Ohio State as well. We divided ourselves into two groups, as there were 2 tasks that needed to be done. The first group went outside in the cold to clean up the property and surround area. She told all the students that they have a good-neighbor agreement in order to keep the premises clean and keep their area clean if any of the garbage was from the residents or facility. I was in the second group and we went through bins of donated clothes, organizing them by size and folding them to make it easier. When the guests come in to get clothes, they don’t want to have to sift through all the bins, so organizing and cleaning made it much easier for them. After 2 short hours of volunteering, she thanked up and greatly appreciated our work and we headed back to campus! This directly related to the people in our community and I felt humbled and empowered after this experience!

Research Panel & Peace Lecture Reflections

Emma Brunst

E-Portfolio Reflections (I missed meeting on January 23rd, so I am doing 2)

On Monday, January 28th, some of my fellow classmates and I attended a research panel put on this International Affairs Scholars Program (Thank you Steven and Sam!). This fulfilled this semester’s academic requirement because we learned about ways to enhance our academic experience by doing research! We were fortunate enough to hear from 6 of our fellow students doing research from many different majors and ages all throughout the university. They all individually went around stating their research opportunities, whom the research is conducted through, and how they can incorporate this research into their academics. They all offered valuable insight into how to get involved in research and how to balance it with the regular classes. Because many people in this scholars program are not STEM majors, they mentioned research opportunities in the humanities and language colleges. For example, Kate Greer, is conducting and analyzing research from the language college for her major in German and history through one of her professors. Another example was from Matt Bult and his research in terrorism in the United States and Islamic States in propaganda. From his previous research, he is currently able to create his own study that he is interested in and he can use for his future. He mentioned that he is able to graduate with a specific title because he is able to do his own research!

This can directly relate to the topic of International Affairs because all the research being done can affect everyone in the world someday in multiples ways. Although it may seem like a college student’s research may not make a large impact, this is completely untrue. One student having a passion for a specific topic can lead to breakthroughs and discoveries that may never be thought of by a professional. When I just wrote this sentence, I thought about what life would be like if some people did not follow their passion and make the discoveries they did. It can range back from Newton and his law of gravity to doctors researching cures for cancer. Life as we know it today would be completely different if ‘simple’ discoveries were not made (At the time, all major discoveries were unthought of, yet they led to extremely important information). In addition to possibly changing the world for the better, research can also be a great opportunity for a student to decide if they want to spend the rest of their lives in a specific career. Because I am so young in my academic career, I still have the possibility of switching majors if I realize it is not what I want to do with my education and career. Research can be a great way for me to decide if I want to stay in engineering and eventually have a professional career in the field. Overall, I truly believe that this panel was an extremely smart idea for students, who like me, want to get involved in research yet didn’t know how.

Reflection #2

One Monday, January 4th, Angie and I were fortunate enough to go to a Peace and Gender studies talk from Dr. Sara Koopman. Dr. Koopman is a professor at Kent State University in the School of Peace and Conflict Studies. During the 1.5 hour lecture with an open Q&A at the end, she discussed the armed conflict in Colombia and how a gender-based approach is being implemented and the effects. For the first 25 minutes, she discussed the violence stemming from the FARC guerillas rising up against the government. In an attempt to build peace following this armed conflict has been a mess 15 year process. Because the actual start date of this conflict is undetermined (either 1940s or 1960s), it could be considered the longest ongoing war in the world and easily the worst war in the Americas. Some statistics to support this claim would be about 7.6 million displaced (2nd largest after Syria) and about 270,000 died from 1964-2016. However, these numbers are most likely low because of people do not report deaths or disappearances. Following the displacement, mostly women and children, are living in extreme poverty due to lack of education and resources. The drug war also has a large part in fueling this conflict, especially cocoa leaves.

A very prominent backlash from this conflict is the widespread sexual and physical violence that has plagued all of Colombia. Guerillas groups and paramilitary are sexually abusing and raping women from societal control. In response, many women’s group have been formed, having a dual purpose of helping with sexual and psychological violence from the war. So, how is this related to gender studies? The accord that was passed in response to the conflict was the first in the world to explicitly state a “gender-sensitive approach” because the wars exacerbate the gender and sexuality violence within the country. There has also been a strong female and LGBT presence when writing the revised accords and it was actually strengthen. Lastly, another problem that these social activism groups have been encountering is the presidential elections and defunding or half-hearted support.

Dr. Koopman mentioned something that caught my attention; “socio-legal orientation” was a term coined for not just the laws, but the societal impact it has. This is extremely important in Colombia and other parts of the war because the laws that are being passed are having a huge impact and/or backlash from the community. Maybe this is a sign that the government need to listen to the people more? The ongoing war in Colombia has been a gory and bloody scene for the last ~50 years (1964-2016). Progress has been made, but many lives have been lost. This directly relates to the topic of International Affairs because this conflict took many killed, displaced women and children, and created a social uproar. A conflict such as this one is extremely sad and heart-breaking, but we must study it and its impacts so this doesn’t happen in the future. At the end of Dr. Koopman’s lecture, she said we must advocate and learn about these people in order to honor them and prevent this. More information can be found on their twitter page, @spaceforpeace.

Non-IA Reflection

Emma Brunst

Final IA Reflection

For my final International Affairs reflection paper, I fulfilled my “non-IA” requirement with an informative documentary on campus. On November 19, 2 other classmates and I attended “A River Below” which was the 6th movie, out of 7 for the semester, shown by the School of Environment and Natural Resources and Office of Energy and Environment in the Chemical and Biomolecular building. This documentary was directed by Mark Greico and was released in April of 2017. The film explored the ethics and use of media in an attempt save the endangered prink river dolphin in the Amazon. Two specific individuals, marine biologist Fernando Trujillo, and TV host, Richard Rasmussen, evaluate the ethics and media use in the soon extinction of the pink river dolphin. A major plot point of the movie is that fisherman are using the pink river dolphin as bait to catch other fish, leading to their endangerment. Richard Rasmussen has to make the decision to trick local fisherman into catching and killing a pregnant pink river dolphin and documenting the whole instance in order to spread knowledge about it and create a law prohibiting the catching of the dolphin. It became extremely controversial because the world could finally see what was happening to these dolphins, but it gave a terrible reputation to the community that was tricked into doing this. Because of Mr. Rasmussen’s work, the environmental police banned the capturing/killing of the dolphin and enforced it dramatically, with the hopes of taking the dolphin off the endangered species list. In the end of the movie, Mr. Rasmussen made amends with the community that was given a bad reputation and there was still a ban on the killing of these innocent dolphins!

Although this information is not directly pertinent to me, it still made an impact because I learned a immense amount of new information that I did not know prior to the movie. This movie dramatically emphasizes how media can play a dramatic role in what the public sees and how it is portrayed. This relates to the topic of International Affairs because this became a huge part of the Amazon/Central South American economy and directly affects the people and their livings. This did not relate to anything in my other classes, but it captured my interest because conservation and protecting the animals is a strong passion of mine. I gained a new aspect of my academic knowledge, as this information is very pertinent in our world today; so many ecosystems are being destroyed by mankind. If something is not done in the near future, our world as we know it can be destroyed as well as many species of animals and natural lands. Because of this event, I learned that one small new report or post can severely affect the community and the people within it. In addition to the conservation of this movie, I also think people should see this movie because of the media aspect of it as well. It goes to show that one small thing that is posted online can impact and be seen by many people. Overall, I thought this movie and its message was phenomenal and I would gladly recommend this movie/experience to someone else!

“I Am Not A Witch” IA reflection #2

Emma Brunst

IA Reflection #2

On Wednesday, October 24th, several of my fellow International Affairs students and I were able to comprehend societal norms in Zambia through the eyes of Shula in the movie “I Am Not A Witch.” About 8 people from my floor were able to fulfill our academic requirement while bonding and learning about a true aspect of life in Zambia at the Gateway Film Center. In the movie, Shula, an alienated and lost little girl, is accused of witchcraft which is unusual for how young she is. Members of her community say strange things have been occurring ever since Shula appeared in their small village. She was forced to carry around a spool of string to keep her from flying away. At first, she was scolded for it, but she soon could use her “witchcraft” to determine who stole, lied, cheated, etc. out of a group of people. She was taken under the wing of Mr. Banda, a government official, to use her powers to decide when it is going to rain. The entire story follows Shula and her struggle from being avoided to being praised for her “gift.” At the end of the movie, Shula eventually freed herself from the bounds of the societal norm and her supposed witchcraft by cutting the string herself. During Shula’s funeral, the rain finally came to the village. The last and final scene of the movie captured the empty spools of string of all the other accused witches, showing all of them are finally free.

Although this may seem to be just a movie, it is a telling story based on true events of the societal norms and typical life in Zambia, East Africa. This activity did not change any perspectives I had because I was unaware of these circumstances to being with. Following the movie, Angie & I were extremely curious as if this is was based on a true story of circumstances for the people in Zambia. We researched the topic and some information came up that caused us to believe this is a real part in the life of Zambia. I have only previously learned about witchcraft in the United States in the late 1800s and didn’t realize it this was a part of everyday life in modern Zambia. Although others were unaware of the current existence of supposed witchcraft, it still made me feel somewhat uncultured as this is a huge part of life in Zambia. This relates to the topic of International Affairs because this is common part of their culture that I was previously unaware of. This has not related to any specific, previous coursework, but it is still extremely relevant to the countries experiencing it and other people understanding this phenomenon that is occurring. Because of this eye-opening experience, I am going to look more into the topic. In addition to witchcraft in Zambia, I am also interested in and going to research taboo occurrences that are currently going on in a specific country. There include but are not limited to: eating a specific way, dressing with a certain set of clothing, speaking to someone a certain way, etc. Although these may be particular to one country, it can still alter the way they live their lives and how it affects others. Because I have watched the movie “I Am Not A Witch,” I am more aware of aspects of a certain culture and how it affect theirs lives compared to my own!