AIDS Memorial Quilt Service – Friday, April 12th , IA Service

The Service event I attended this semester was the AIDS memorial Quilt Service, located in the Ohio State Union on Friday, April 12th. I was present from 1pm-4pm. The event was multi-faceted; its main focus was to show respect for those who have passed from AIDS related illness, but it also brought awareness to AIDS and SDES’ goal was to use the event to educate those about HIV/AIDs.

I was asked to sit in the quilt room and watch to make sure people were being respectful of the space; ie no food or drink in the room, no touching the quilt, etc. I also manned one of the welcome tables and instructed people where certain events and speakers were located.

There are still many common misconceptions about AIDS, one being that only gay men are affected. There is a large stigma around HIV/AIDS because of this, and lead many people to look down upon those who are affected by the disease.

Gay men make up only 18% of people infected with HIV. Another 18% is clients of sex workers, 1% trans women, 8% people who inject drugs, 3% sex workers, and 52% is the rest of the population. Further on the contrary, women are more so at risk of infection than men are. (statistics from avert.org)

There is also stigma surrounding STD’s in general, one that leads many individuals to not get tested, in fear of a positive result. Many STI’s can be carried without symptoms, and these can be passed to partners which cause life altering conditions, such as infertility. The Ohio Union offers free testing through the multicultural center, and the Student Wellness Center located in the RPAC also offers free HIV and STD testing. There are also many free options around Columbus for those who wish to be tested off campus, such as Out of The Closet, located on 5th and High.

Events such as this quilt memorial are important to help spread awareness of sexual health issues. We are lucky to live in communities where certain methods of STI prevention, such as condoms, are readily available at little to no cost. The spreading of HIV can be stopped, and with added preventions such as prescription PREP, an anti HIV drug, you can significantly reduce your risk of being infected by or transmitting HIV.

Globally, Eastern and Southern Africa are the most afflicted, with 19.6 million (as of 2017) reported living with HIV. Of the total number of people affected globally, only 25% know their status. There are great strides we need to take to improve education and access to sexual health resources in the areas of the world that are endemic, and lack access to the knowledge and resources they need to keep themselves, their partners, and their children healthy and HIV/AIDS free. Condom usage can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV by 99.6%, and are a relatively cheap option of doing so. Education about proper usage, and access to condoms in these endemic areas could greatly reduce the incidence of HIV. Retroviral drugs could be used to help those already infected from developing AIDs, and spreading the virus further.

 

“A Vision for the Future Water Security” Global Water Contexts Faculty Research Forum – Friday, Feb 8th – NON IA

The Non-IA event that I chose to attend this semester was the Global Water Forum that took place in the 18th Ave. Library, on Friday, February 8th. This event was regarding various water crises that take place around the world and different efforts to mitigate, or even solve said issues regarding water resources. I only attended for an hour of the seminar, so I did unfortunately miss the keynote speaker, however,Dr. Vanesa Rodríguez Osuna spoke to the challenges scientists and water management practitioners face when dealing with water management.

One thing to note and take away from the Forum is that dealing with water resource issues is a complex and multi-faceted issue that requires tackling multiple other platforms than just water. One must come up with a solution that compromises between differing ideas on how to apply water management solutions, that also fit in with a particular countries social and political viewpoints and standing, whilst also taking into account their existing infrastructure and political/governmental climate. Cultural practices and traditions must be respected when doing any kind of work in another country, and one must be sure to respect the wishes of the people when carrying out actions to work towards water management solutions.

A problem that arises when dealing with water resource issues is the sheer amount of organizations that exist. This creates the problem of divergence, where different organizations are using different methods and techniques, sometimes working towards completely different goals when it comes to water resource management. A lack of unity in this field leaves most organizations underfunded and underdeveloped, and they lack the capacity to carry out full scale solutions to water resource management issues. NGO’s must come together under one name in order to carry out a strategic, well thought out, funded plan that will deal with a countries water resource issues on a full blown scale rather than multiple small startups which do little in the long run/grand scheme.

One particular country that I was able to catch during my time at the Forum was the Water Resource issue in Tanzania. One in six people lack access to clean drinking water, according to a UNICEF/WHO report made in 2004. This impact of water scarcity leads to an increase in outbreak of epidemic disease. Most communities in rural areas have to walk an upwards of 3 kilometers to find safe, clean water. Various organizations make donations and efforts to mitigate the problem, however the only way a full term solution can come about is if an infrastructure for clean water is actually made throughout the country, which faces its own challenges- difficult topography, funds, and working with government officials to decide where wells are going to be constructed and how construction will be carried out.

This event was particularly thought provoking, as it requires multiple schools of thought and methods of critical thinking to come up with a complex solution to a complex problem. On the surface, it may seem easy to build clean water systems throughout a country. But we must also look at the sustainability of said systems, and look at what the particular country wants and needs, and how it fits into the cultural, political, and social climate of the country in question. Experts in the field of international relations, cultural and social anthropologists, environmental and civil engineers, and many other fields come together to tackle this complex and multifaceted issue.

Current Events Convo 3/4, Academic Event – Smith Steeb Glass Classroom

The academic event I chose to attend this semester was the Current Events Convo hosted by Sam Stelnicki on March 4th, 2019 at 8:oo PM in Smith Steeb’s glass classroom. This event was focusing on international affairs and their current status, events that Sam chose to present on. The first event she spoke on was the Pakistan and India conflict. This is a conflict dating back to 1947 regarding Pakistani/Indian rule/Independent rule and religions tensions between Hindu/Muslim. Recently, tensions have flared with a new Indian rule in 2014, and in the month of February various attacks and counter attacks have been launched. Full scale conflict is anticipated to ensue. In the Nigerian presidential election, only 1/3 of the population voted, and the election was delayed because of logistical issues. There are speculations of a rigged election from the opposition. The country continues to struggle with achieving democracy due to widespread violence and poverty. Current president Buhari made promises to deal with these issues, but since gaining power has failed to make action towards his claims. In news regarding the United States and North Korea, a conference was held to lift North Korean Trade bans and for North Korea to denuclearize, but neither side seems to want to budge. The Labour Party is willing to support a second referendum on Brexit. Their options are revoke article 50, or extend article 50 to leave more room for a decision.  Venezuela is facing a mass exodus and Latin American Countries are dealing with a mass influx of Venezuelan immigrants. Tensions arise between cultures in Latin American countries, particularly Colombia.

I feel like these type of events and conversations need to happen more often. It is a great way to touch base with what is going on in the world, and it is at the heart of what International Affairs is all about. We, as international affairs scholars, should be concerned with what is going on around us in the world, and informed on decisions that are being made by leaders and policy makers world wide.

I would love to gear more events towards this kind of style, perhaps even an open discussion across IA members so that we can get a developed perspective of world events. I feel as though we were able to do this more so in our seminar class, but as we are no longer in this structured environment, these conversations are much more difficult to foster.

Another suggestion I offer up is that we involve other scholar groups in our discussions. A general sentiment I get from International Affairs Scholars is that we all generally come from a similar political background and mindset, and it might behoove us to engage in conversations with PSL, for example, or perhaps open panels for international students to speak on events happening in their home countries. This would bring a sense of personal connection to these conversations and place a face and a person with these issues instead of just talking about them blindly without regard to the feelings of the people involved, which we often times do.

CRIS Mural Painting

The service event I chose to attend for this semester was the CRIS Mural Painting, which took place at the Columbus Global Academy on December 1st. During this event, the International Scholars were asked to design and paint a mural in the school, which provides an ESL program for immigrant students here in Columbus.

The CRIS mentorship program is particularly meaningful to me, as I have my own mentee; a young man from Sudan. The program helps connect these kids with students who have a desire to help them transition culturally into the United States, provide assistance with language, and overall be a companion and friend to them. CRIS works with a lot of children who go to Global Academy, so naturally I volunteered to help paint the mural in the school.

The mural is on the outside wall of the library; on one wall, the word library is translated into multiple different languages and painted on the wall. The main portion of the mural features animals from different stories or fables that have varying origins of countries that represent students attending the Academy.

I arrived and immediately we got to work. It was a fun work environment; we played music on a bluetooth speaker and chatted lightly as we worked. Most of us were painting larger portions of the mural that required less precision; the blue of the sky, and the green of the grass. Some of the more skilled artists did more of the detail work such as a fox’s face or a serpent’s tongue.

I enjoyed painting the mural, because painting is not one of my particular strong suits. As a business major, I do not get that many opportunities for creative outlets. In addition, most of my creative abilities lie within singing and theater, so to be able to explore the world of physical art and watch the students who created the mural at work was particularly inspiring. The ladies who created the mural all made drafts of the sketch, and they were combined digitally into the final piece. Then, it was sketched on the wall and we approached a “paint-by-numbers” technique where different portions called for different colors.

The mural serves as a visual representation of what a library is meant to be (especially to younger children) ; a room filled with books that contain myriad stories and information. Some of the students might be intimidated by the English language and shy away from speaking or reading, but this mural provides a colorful illustration of the surprises that await them in the books. The translations of the word “library” in different languages also facilitates this, as kids can find the word that they are familiar with and make a connection to it and thus, perhaps learn a new word simply from viewing the mural.

My hope would be that the mural would be a vibrant and intriguing advertisement of sorts that would pique the interest of the students and entice them to visit and pick up a book so that they could find reading fun, and thus improve their command of the English language.

 

Decolonizing Queer Identities and Experience

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a first year success series entitled “Decolonizing Queer Identities and Experience”. This event took place on October 25th, 2018 in the Tanya Rutner Hartman Room in the Ohio Union.

This session was particularly informative, and I was able to learn about how decolonization is affecting the queer identity here in the United States in regards to Native Americans and their views on sexuality and gender. Native Americans traditionally did not work with the binary male-female system we have today, but had myriad gender identities, as well as openly accepting homosexual relationships. Colonization has effectively “washed” Native American history of this face, and thus, has wiped it from Native Americans’ own interpretation of their history, as they have internalized this colonization. Thus, we have the process of decolonization. This involves being critical of self and questioning why we think the way we do, amongst other methods, in order to tackle colonizations effects. I think this topic is particularly useful not only to first year students but to all citizens of the United States, because the process of decolonization has to happen on an individual level. We cannot begin to tackle the problems systematically until more people or on the bandwagon. It requires a complete paradigm shift, and thus, will not be easy. I will use the information I have learned from this session to actively work to decolonize my mind and make sure those around me are not contributing to these toxic mindsets.

Earlier in the seminar, we studied Queer Migrations and the LGBT communities in Russia as well as reading an article about Queer Migrations globally. Queer Migration relating to the fleeing of one’s country due to persecution based on sexuality or gender identity. Guest Speaker Randall Rowe, in sum, let on that the way we see LGBT persecution represented in the media, and our interpretations of the stories, are not necessarily Russia’s take on the matters.  “… some of the Russian speaking immigrants, with whom I spoke, noted a tension in having to adopt a victim narrative as an LGBT immigrant from the former Soviet Union due to expectations fostered by media coverage” (Randall Rowe, Queer Migration: Identity and Representation Challenges). We find that although queer identities are not celebrated or expressed openly, they are tolerated and allowed to exist within the community with relatively low consequence. This, however, cannot be said about some countries in which migration was necessary for some members of the LGBT community, in order to continue living their lives without fear of persecution. And even so, queer folk such as author Reinaldo Arenas were denied access to a safer country to the U.S. because homosexuality was not considered a valid reason for immigration.

It’s quite ironic that the United States has had such a battle with queer rights, much as it is ironic that we have such an issue with immigration, seeing as how not only was this country founded on slaughtering and redistributing countless natives, but these very tribes had their own gender and sexuality identities that were akin to conversations we are just now beginning to have in the 21st century, the late 2000’s. This resistance to queer identity due to colonization is projected upon Native Americans, and thus, they completely lose part of their culture. This is why we must actively fight colonization so that we can allow both the native and queer identities to coexist.

 

International Affairs Scholars: Academic Event Reflection, Study Abroad Expo

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Study Abroad Expo: an informative and engaging event that provided me with useful information regarding the study abroad possibilities here at OSU. This event was on September 4th, 2018 in the Ohio Union, and fulfilled the Academic Event requirement.

Fitting the theme of International Affairs, the Study Abroad Expo presented a wide variety of ways I can fit studying abroad into my educational experience here at The Ohio State University. Representatives from different programs, as well as various partner schools set up booths where we could inquire about said programs.

As a student in The Fisher School of Business, I learned about a few programs that sounded particularly interesting. There are freshman global labs, one of which takes place in Hamburg, Germany, where I would receive the equivalent in credits for BSML 3380: Logistics; a 1.5 credit hour class.

I have also chosen to pursue a minor in Spanish, and there are extensive and myriad of possibilities in this track. Countries include Spain and various other South American countries such as Ecuador or Chile. There are summer options, as well as exchanges and semesters abroad.

One qualm I have with the Study Abroad options is the lack of crossover available. As a business major with a minor in foreign language, it would behoove me to have options to cover some of my bases for both majors during a semester abroad, as to not fall behind with credits for my major whilst also fulfilling requirements for my minor. Due to some restrictions with Fisher, however, there isn’t a lot of room for this double dipping, so to speak.

My ideal study abroad trip would be to Chile, where I could take classes in Spanish that both fulfill Business requirements as well as Spanish requirements. I would take courses that would fit under the culture categories for a Spanish minor, as well as the courses offered by Fisher at that particular University. I have an inclination towards Chile because a dear friend of mine is from Santiago, and when I was learning Spanish she was instrumental in teaching me. I enjoy the accent, understand it with ease, and have even picked up a few of the colloquialisms.

Studying abroad is particularly helpful in the professional world, as it broadens your experience and expands your worldview to make a well balanced student and future employee. As a student immersing myself in the study abroad experience, my goals would be to absorb as much of the culture as I could whilst in another country. The enriching part of studying abroad is learning more of people that are different than I, and stepping out of my comfort zone. Having studied abroad before, I feel that I would be fairly comfortable and adjust quickly, but there are always exceptions to this depending on circumstances.

Overall, I am excited about the study abroad opportunities here at OSU. I believe studying abroad will be an important part of my educational experience here, and I cannot wait to see the possibilities that await.

Year in Review

[ “Year in Review”  is where you should reflect on the past year and show how you have evolved as a person and as a student.  You may want to focus on your growth in a particular area (as a leader, scholar, researcher, etc.) or you may want to talk about your overall experience over the past year.  For more guidance on using your ePortfolio, including questions and prompts that will help you get started, please visit the Honors & Scholars ePortfolio course in Carmen. To get answers to specific questions, please email eportfolio@osu.edu. Delete these instructions and add your own post.]

G.O.A.L.S.

[ “G.O.A.L.S.” is a place where students write about how their planned, current, and future activities may fit into the Honors & Scholars G.O.A.L.S.: Global Awareness, Original Inquiry, Academic Enrichment, Leadership Development, and Service Engagement. For more guidance on using your ePortfolio, including questions and prompts that will help you get started, please visit the Honors & Scholars ePortfolio course in Carmen. To get answers to specific questions, please email eportfolio@osu.edu. Delete these instructions and add your own post.

  • Global Awareness: Students cultivate and develop their appreciation for diversity and each individual’s unique differences. For example, consider course work, study abroad, involvement in cultural organizations or activities, etc.
  • Original Inquiry: Honors & Scholars students understand the research process by engaging in experiences ranging from in-class scholarly endeavors to creative inquiry projects to independent experiences with top researchers across campus and in the global community. For example, consider research, creative productions or performances, advanced course work, etc.
  • Academic Enrichment: Honors & Scholars students pursue academic excellence through rigorous curricular experiences beyond the university norm both in and out of the classroom.
  • Leadership Development: Honors & Scholars students develop leadership skills that can be demonstrated in the classroom, in the community, in their co-curricular activities, and in their future roles in society.
  • Service Engagement: Honors & Scholars students commit to service to the community.]

Career

[“Career” is where you can collect information about your experiences and skills that will apply to your future career.  Like your resume, this is information that will evolve over time and should be continually updated.  For more guidance on using your ePortfolio, including questions and prompts that will help you get started, please visit the Honors & Scholars ePortfolio course in Carmen. To get answers to specific questions, please email eportfolio@osu.edu. Delete these instructions and add your own post.]