I attended the Martin Luther King, Junior Day of service for my International Affairs service credit. The day began around 7:30 a.m., when a group of my fellow IA Scholars and I were instructed to meet in the lobby of Smith-Steeb at that time. We were under the impression that someone from IA would walk us over; however, we were mistaken (shade no shade Steven). Instead, we had to take matters into our own hands and decided that it was time to head over to the Union—where we all would be separated into different service groups—because we feared being turned away if we had waited too long (since they had a maximum amount people who they were accepting to help). After entering the Union, we all quickly got split up into a series of lines, varying from necessary information for the day to getting breakfast. It was really considerate of the people “sorting” the groups because they allowed whole groups of people to receive the same wristband color, which meant that they would be sent to the same service location. After entering one of the large ballrooms in the Union, we were escorted to our section, based on wristband color, and told about where we would be volunteering for the day. After everyone was sorted, there was a series of tributes to only Martin Luther King, Jr., but also to Aretha Franklin. I could definitely feel a sense of community among everyone in the room, and it was really inspirational to witness and be a part of.
We then loaded the buses and headed to COSI—our designated location. It was only my second time being there (the first time being only a few days prior), and it was a fantastic experience to watch how helpful a small group of college students could be. When we arrived, the coordinators explained to us how they hope to expand the knowledge one can gain at COSI to other classrooms across the United States and even across the world. We were asked to help assemble their packages, which would be sent to these various locations, contained with a variety of unique science experiments. Each task would have been extremely daunting to complete by oneself (and quite frankly would have taken hours to complete), but with the help of about 30 students, we were able to complete all of our designate do tasks in about an hour and a half. Going in to this day of service, I really did not know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to witness so many strangers bonding over a common goal.
It was really nice to be given the opportunity to give back to the community, and it was a really fun day! I gained experience working as a part of a large group to complete tasks in the most efficient manner possible. It was also really incredible using the introduction of that day to give credit and thanks where it is due. It seems especially important currently, as we are in Black History Month, to identify those figures that made this integrated society we live in now even possible in the first place.
I attended a Ted Talk hosted by The Ohio State University on November 27, 2018 to serve as my Non-IA event. The talk was hosted in McPherson 1015 at 7 pm and included a multitude of speakers ranging from judges to victims of human trafficking. The whole event was focused on educating what can actually be done to break the cycle of human trafficking. The event changed my opinions of human trafficking in a multitude of ways. I learned how easily great people can be tricked into the system and how devious and manipulative the “recruiters” are. I also learned about how common it is in the world and how addictive it is for those involved. Many of the people who get lured into that lifestyle are at a low-point in their life and often have no one else to depend on or trust, so they end up trusting the wrong people. Judge Paul Herbert also shared some very unnerving statistics that he came to be aware of as a prosecutor of prostitution. For example, the average age of sexual abuse eight and a half years old, one-third of the women involved in prostitution are under sixteen, and sixty-two percent are under eighteen. I also learned that unsuccessful prostitutes often get beaten up by their bosses, and prostitutes have a average life span of thirty-four years old. All of these facts really put in perspective how dangerous this illegal activity is.
This Red Light event related to the topic of International Affairs because human trafficking is a global issue. It disproportionately affects females and children, and it is a large issue in many countries, including the United States. In my International Affairs Scholars Seminar, my group project was actually focused on sex trafficking in India, the country with the highest number of trafficked females; however, before that project, I had never discussed human trafficking in any type of school setting. This fact seems especially problematic to me since human trafficking is on the rise, with numbers increasing annually. It is also worrisome because the first step to preventing/ending a reoccurring problem is educating people and raising awareness around the issue. If this cannot even be done in school, then those who do not have access to social media or families to tell them what to avoid (the more at-risk individuals already), then those people might be ignorant and fall into the smart, experienced human traffickers’ traps. I thought it was really interesting that it was recommended to get businesses involved. The most common time to buy sex was found to be on business trips or during the work day (2 pm), so it was recommended that companies explicitly state no sex-buying at any time during work or involving any work-related resources. It was also found that when this rule was violated, the most effective method to prevent it from happening again was public embarrassment. Most companies have swept violations under the carpet but that only perpetuates the problem. If there was not the demand for prostitution, the industry of human trafficking would no longer exist because it would not be profitable. As a community, it should be our job to educate others and report suspicious activity when we suspect it around us.
On Thursday October 23rd, I attended the Mini Involvement Fair orchestrated through the International Affairs Scholars Program. It was hosted outside of Smith-Steeb dorm building and counted as an academic requirement. This involvement fair encouraged me to branch out and join new clubs or student organizations. At the main involvement fair at the beginning of the year, I felt extremely overwhelmed because the roads were completely packed with students, at times even making it impossible to move. Apparently, it is not usually that hectic, but it certainly made an intimidating first impression for me. It was challenging to speak with people at each table because it was so loud and even hard to get to the desired tables. However, during this mini fair, there was personal time to speak with each organization’s representatives. The fair was not highly populated, and there were very few clubs so it was much easier to find out the specific details of each club and find out which I would be most interested in joining. The three clubs there I was most interested in were Student Leadership Advocates (SLA), Advocates for Women of the World (AWW), and the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA). I had no idea that any of these organizations even existed on campus, and I was really impressed with several of the events that these groups host. I learned that SLA is a group that focuses itself on coaching other organizations in the ways of leadership and development. It is an awesome resource to utilize because their workshops are free. Additionally, all of the members described the great skills they have gained from their experiences in the club without it being too demanding on time. It also is still available to freshman applicants (unlike most other exclusive clubs) because their applications open in the spring semester. Both the AWW and CCWA are strongly related to the topic of international affairs. The AWW hosts several large fundraisers annually to give back to women living in impoverished places. For example, as discussed in my international affairs seminar, women are typically at a disadvantage globally for education and opportunities. In many small, poverty-stricken places, women that are being educated are expected to fetch water and complete the “housekeeping tasks” in schools if these things need to be done. Additionally, they cannot afford feminine products while they are menstruating, so they are confined to one room covered with cardboard for an entire week. To help combat this problem, the AWW uses a portion of their funds to purchase feminine products and ship them to these impoverished areas so that the women there may have supplies free-of-charge. Additionally, the AWW hosts a weekly meeting where a member discusses a specific female issue in the world about which they are particularly passionate. This weekly activity raises awareness and is a great resource on campus to investigate further. Similarly, the CCWA involves several diverse “pillars” of events that they host, but they also focus on awareness and discussion of current international issues. The aspect I was most interested in was Model U.N., which includes members joining together and researching both sides of the international problem/debate given, to then argue against other teams from other colleges. It seems very similar to Mock Trial, a club that I was an active participant in throughout high school. This branch of the CCWA educates all of its members on both sides of a current and relevant international issue as well as teaches students to argue and negotiate peace agreements. The involvement fair expanded my scope of the student organizations at Ohio State and caused me to step outside of my comfort-zone with the organizations that I have joined.
The service event I attended was the Columbus Greek Festival, hosted at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Friday, August 31st. I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer at this festival because I am a member of a Greek cultural organization at The Ohio State University. I have grown up in a closely-knit Greek community and have volunteered extensively at my own church’s festival. This activity impacted me by causing me to realize how large the Greek community extends. Not only was the festival larger and run in an entirely different way, but there were several parishioners there that could identify members of my own church.
Initially, I was a little intimidated to start attending the Columbus Greek church because of its magnitude. I am from Pittsburgh, and there are about seven different Greek Orthodox churches placed throughout the city and surrounding suburbs; however, Columbus only has one church. To ease my transition, I decided to volunteer at the festival in order to meet some members before I attended a service. Unlike my previous experiences with festivals though, the Columbus festival had many booths (approximately twenty) where everything was broken up into different departments. All of the previous festivals I had attended typically have had everything more centralized. Unfortunately, I was only able to interact with one family—the booth where I was volunteering—because they have one family run a booth each. This is an especially rare trait because very few churches have enough volunteers to have this type of setup. Through observing how everything ran from an inside perspective, I was very surprised to see how many mistakes occurred. I expected a larger church to have better techniques and more organized processes, but I was completely wrong. It made me realize that though my church was very small and did not make nearly as much profit during our festival, we were quicker and much more efficient. Through volunteering, I gained experience in introducing myself to complete strangers and temporarily stepping outside of my comfort zone in order to have an easier transition in the future.
The Columbus Greek Festival relates to International Affairs because it is a celebration and appreciation of Greek culture and heritage. It is a perfect example of immigrants and descendants of immigrants celebrating their lineage and origins while also allowing others who may be unaware of Greek culture and traditions to experience it firsthand and also participate in the celebration. At the festival, Greek dancers, in traditional dancing costumes, were constantly Greek dancing to traditional music. It is a common part of Greek culture to know these dances is commonly used to bond with one another within your community. The dances that were performed have survived in America through generations of immigrants from different islands and represent the pride that Greek-Americans feel about their heritage. Even when the performance ended, the performers entered the crowd and began to pull different observers to teach them how to Greek dance.
My experiences relate to other classes in that all cultures need to have respect for others different from your their own in order to have a functioning society, which is something we discussed in my “Shattering Stereotypes” F.Y.S.S. (First Year Success Series) class. It was a great experience watching everyone come together to celebrate, regardless of their individual backgrounds.
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