I attended the DISPLAYced: Exhibition and Celebration academic event at TRISM on Wednesday March 27th. The event was an art exhibition featuring refugee artists from the community that brought light to the issue within our world and helped raise money for the Community Refugee & Immigration Services, CRIS.
The artists were all from different countries and all used different stylistic approaches to creating their artworks. The artists included Bol Aweng from South Sudan, Orisha Nnani from Nigeria, Bamazi Talle from Togo, Nora Musu from Liberia, Tariq Tarey from Somalia, Denis Kasaza from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Said Tameem from Iraq, and Abessolo Ayem from Cameroon.
I enjoyed the artwork and the different styles and forms ranging from photography, painting, sculpture, and even pen and paper. Some of the works that stood out to me was Human Hearts: A Visual Art Collection by Talle Bamazi that was completely drawn with black and blue pens. This piece shows that there is no excuse for not creating artwork, and anything can be created from the simplest of materials. Additionally, the meaning behind the usage of the pens were connected to the financial stability of Talle. Talle received most of the used pens after a visit to the bank trip that added to the artists growth and increasing money as a new refugee in the community. Another artwork that I enjoyed was painted by Orisha Nnani’s with acrylic on canvas. The painting depicts the horrors within her country in a beautiful and shocking manner. It is accompanied with the inscription “Eburv Ozv Nwa Onye Ozo. Odika Ukwv nev (when they carry the dead body of someone else’s child, it looks like a bundle of sticks)”. The painting is realistic and depicts a graphic representation of a woman cut and killed from conflict within her country.
The artworks were accompanied by creative ways for donating to the Columbus organization CRIS. There was information about refugees in Columbus and the United States that suggested donation rates that were actually data about refugees. Some of the shocking statistics included that only one in five hundred of the world’s refugees were resettled in 2018 and that 68.5 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide. Specifically in Columbus the refugee population increased by 245 people last year with 48.4% of all refugees in Ohio resettling in Franklin County. The combination of the artwork, the information, and the cultural experience shared from these members of our community was effective. The art exhibit was a great event that provided insight into personal experiences from refugees in our Columbus community through beautiful artworks.
I attended the Card for Kids IA service event at Smith-Steeb on February 12th. The program provided supplies for making Valentine’s cards for children at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital is the second largest pediatric hospital and research center centered in Ohio that is working on innovations to help children everywhere. The focus on improving both the physical and mental health of the child providing care to all families, not restricted by the ability to pay. This event created cards for the children in the Columbus community Nationwide Children’s hospital. The cards were a simple celebration and enjoyment for the children to receive some normalcy while in the stay at the hospital.
While attending the event, peers and I discussed the history and importance of Valentine’s Day. The history behind Valentine’s Day is associated with the Romans and the Christians, celebrating the martyrdom of Saint Valentines. There is still a large interest in the historically religious holiday background. It is widely celebrated throughout the United States and similar countries despite the connection. The real meaning of the holiday is changing for the more modern times, as the people are just emphasizing the celebration of love from friends and family. Another disputed issue discussed, was that of its manipulative purpose to be another commercialized holiday within America. In which companies convince consumers that there is a necessity to display your love through the purchasing of bears, chocolates, and cards. I feel as if the meaning and celebration behind Valentine’s Day has been changing throughout the times but can still evoke positive emotions for any of the people celebrating on that day.
In the end, I hope that the children enjoyed the handmade and decorated cards. I liked creating the cards as it was a relaxing and creative event in which I could reach out to the community. I wrote child-friendly jokes inside to provide some amusement. One of my favorite jokes was, “Knock, knock./ Who’s there?/ Frank./ Frank who?/ Frank you for being my friend!”. The event was a nice way to communicate with my peers about the upcoming holiday while also sending thoughtful messages to the children and their families from The Ohio State community.
I attended the Smith-Steeb non-IA event, Coffee and Diversitea, on January 30th. The program offered coffee and teas samples while exploring information about the top coffee and tea producing countries around the world. Powerpoints and a Kahoot trivia quiz were used to learn about ethically produced products. A large focus was the the difference between race and ethnicity, race being the physical attributes of a person and ethnicity being the cultural connections of a person. They also explained the differences between colonization as the practice and settlement of people and imperialization as the driving control over another country through political and economic means. The event then continued to showe some of the negative effects of colonization on the produced exports within each country.
Another large focus was the presentation was on the importance of buying fair trade items for better trading conditions between developing countries so that there are fair prices paid to the producer. Each of the tested products were fair trade products from each of the countries. We were testing six different fair trade types of teas and coffees. Each drink was drastically different, ranging from bitter, dark, medium roast blends for the coffees and delightful aromas and colors for the teas. My favorite drink was the jasmine green tea, that was packed as pearl beads that opened up like flowers as they steeped in the hot water.
As well, we learned about the history and geography associated with each coffee and tea producing countries. China is where tea originated, and it was specific to the region making hard to grow in other regions like England. The Chinese artichoke tea smelled sweet with a nice light orange color infused. In Vietnam the people use a traditional coffee dipper and metal strainer to brew their drinks. In the Colombian presentation I recognized some of the information from my Spanish language class that focused on the culture within Colombia but continued more in depth into the coffee producing parts of the country. I learned about Cumbia, a traditional music from Columbia, Gabriel García Márquez, a famous author, and J Balvin a popular reggaeton pop music artist. Colombia was a colonized country and this affected their large focus of exports within the country. The Colombian coffee was made from dark roast beans are rich without the bitter taste. In Ethiopia, the top export is coffee and is the location of where coffee originated. Ethiopian coffee is produced by small farmers and half of produced coffee is for consumption within the country and the other half exported. Ethiopia was never colonized, there were attempts by Italy, but the country maintained independent. In Kenya the top export is tea and is ranked third in production after China and India.
This event was an enjoyable and an interesting focus on the international connections between culture and industrial production of drink production that is exported and consumed from different places around the world. This event expanded my views on the distribution of my coffee and tea products to help emphasize buying ethically produced products to support international family farmers.
I participated in the end of semester service event, CRIS Tree of Hope Mural at Columbus Global Academy on Saturday December 1st. The International Affairs Scholars organized and designed a mural for the hallway inside the Columbus Global Academy, which was funded by The Ohio State University donors. The students that go to Columbus Global Academy are only children from refugee families organized by Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS). The children are able to learn English and practice skills to adapt to living in a new country. The Mural includes two walls, the main wall with the tree and a second wall with the word ‘library’ written in different languages. The mural was designed by IA students, Anne Knellinger and Zoe Sikon. The design incorporates a tree centered in the middle of the wall with animals surrounding the tree. Each of the animals are from different children’s stories from the countries of the refugee students that go to the school. Some of the animals include a crane with a crown, a black spider, a fox, a sleeping leopard, a large snake, and a tinty turtle. These animal stories were chosen to help create a connection for the children to recognize and relate to things from their home country. The mural process included taping and laying down of tarps to protect the wall and floor from paint, tracing of the digital image that was projected on to the wall, and then painting of the images with the correct colors according to the designed photo. This not the first mural painted by IA Scholars inside the school, and included before a mural with international flags. The murals are a small service adding to the improvement of the lifestyle and views of refugees within our country. This event is pertinent to international affairs and to the community as it deals with the refugee crisis within the United States and how Columbus and Ohio State is able to be involved in helping refugee families in other ways. I enjoyed my time working on the mural and learning about the cultural connections that will be portrayed in the new artwork and how it will brighten the school environment.
I attended the Documentary Showing of “The White Helmets” with Sam S. on Monday, November 5th that fulfills Academic requirement. The event was impactful, by informing more about the turmoil that is currently occurring in Syria. ISIS is located on the ground and the Russian planes are above creating violence, from small multiple bombings that create more damage and the powerful larger bombs. The White Helmets are volunteer civilians in the Syrian Civil Defense that provide aid after bombings and violence in Syria. Formed in 2013, the organization has 2,900 civilians working in 120 centers across the country. They are actively putting their life in danger to help other people. The risk of dying is high and many of the white helmets peers friends have lost their lives yet they continue with their work. More than 130 white helmets have been killed but in the same period, they have saved over 58,000 lives. The short documentary follows men who are apart of the same unit, Khalid Farrah, Mohammed Farrah, Abu Omar, and Raed Saleh. The White Helmet volunteers have no prior rescue experience. They receive a month-long training of courses in Turkey to help them cope and learn more about the proper ways to best save people after the bombings. The training included tool usage, searching techniques, and safety procedures.They are brave and selfless people that care for all of the victims as if they are their own innocent family. The violence of the war was shown but also emotionally uplifting parts. Lives were lost but also saved, most memorably being the saving of the miracle baby, found still alive after a bombing underneath toppled walls and ceilings. Still living now and shown in later scenes as a toddler that gives the men hope and joy.
The documentary was a representation of the effects of the political policies and war on the actual people within the country. It showed the emotional and personable connections that are impacting real people within the Syrian War. War is in International issue that involves more than just one country and affects many people around it. It involves international relations and diplomacy between the directly involved parties and the countries that are indirectly partaking in the issue. Involving factors in the war in which many countries are taking sides on each side of the war. Some countries including the United States, siding with the Syrian opposition and countries like Russia siding with the current Ba’athist government. The separation of sides displays the conflict between the people within Syria and between the countries taking different sides will have disagreement.
Academically, I learned more about the Syrian war and its detriments to the people. The documentary was stimulating and enjoyable and I was able to expand more on the relationships of war. I was intrigued by the ability to follow these men into their dangerous volunteer work, video documenting actual bombings right beside them into the buildings. Instead of receiving a removed American opinion viewing a war in a middle-eastern country thats affects seem far from the United States, the documentary was able to present the emotional connections and issues in the Syrian War through the White Helmets.
I attended the IA Mini-Involvement fair outside Smith-Steeb on Thursday October 25th. The fair was organized by IA scholars Sam Harris and Kelsie Parker which incorporated clubs that are related to the scholar’s program. I enjoyed the environment of a smaller and more intimate involvement fair. It was much easier to discuss with all the club’s representatives involved, I had time to ask questions and get their personal opinions. This smaller size helped simplify the overwhelming involvement fair from the begging of the year, that had too many different clubs and choices. These clubs were related to international affairs and world issues. Some of the clubs at the fair included, Student Leadership Advocates, MUNDO, Public Affairs Multicultural Student Organization (PAMSO), and Collegiate Council of World Affairs. Each club separately focuses on the involvement of international issues in different ways through meetings, competitions, travel, and service opportunities. The Collegiate Council of World fairs has three different types of involvement just within the club. CCWA includes, Model United Nations where the students come together from different schools to imitate the situations of working within the UN, Alger Magazine which focuses on the journalism and writing information surrounding world affairs, and UNA-USA which focuses on the importance of relations about the UN. PAMSO is a club that focuses on brining all different students to discuss topics related to diversity and inclusion. Recently they just held a combined discussion with Programs for Ohio Women Empowered to Represent (POWER), right before election time with a panel discussing women in politics across the spectrum. MUNDO is residential life initiative and student organization that is involved in social change at the local, national and global level using service, learning and leadership. MUNDO holds meetings every Mondays and also plans additional events that are held within the Columbus community and abroad. MUNDO offers a lot of travel experience and learning for its members. They have many study abroad programs every year that can be applied for. One of the current programs is Castles, Celts and Curries: Multicultural Histories and Legacies of the UK, a trip to the United Kingdom, which takes place during the summer term study. They also provided information with ways to help pay for those study abroad opportunities, through many scholarships from Ohio State and outside scholarships for each type of student. Student Leadership Advocates is a club that focuses on helping the development of leadership in clubs in the Ohio State community. I was able to learn a lot about the opportunities to join clubs on campus and about the future events that will partake in the Spring semester. I was unsure about what types of clubs to get involved with and how to do so, and this Mini-Involvement fair has helped give me more insight. Personally, I want to be more involved in my community and I am glad for this closer opportunity to look into clubs that focus on my interests and issues related to world affairs like within the International Affairs scholars program. I am looking forward to going to these clubs’ future meetings and discussions.
I attended the Columbus Crossing Borders Project: Breathe Free Documentary and Panel on September 16th at the Gateway Film Center which fulfilled the Non-IA Community requirement. The documentary was interesting and surrounded the topic about refugees in the world and how the Columbus community was connected. The main idea of the documentary was about the production of a large collaborative piece of art in which over 40 artists came together to show some part of the issue of refugees in the world. The final work consisted of multiple paintings all in different styles that flowed into the next painting to create this whole art piece. It was interesting to see the techniques used to incorporate and communicate their ideas together to create the finished product with such a large number of artists included in the production. The documentary was able to show the background about the project, but I wish there was an opportunity to have seen the finished exhibition in person. The artists are from the Columbus area and collaborated with the Community Refugee & Immigration Services to connect with refugees in Columbus to inspire their art. I support the bringing to light of the issues about refugees but am concerned about the representation of their stories. One artist asked, “does my work represent what Syria looked before you left it”, to which a boy replied with “it is close”. I enjoyed the artwork of the Columbus artists but feel that artwork that is directly from refugees would have been more powerful and representative of their stories.
My favorite part of the documentary was when the father of a refugee family was talking with his young daughter of age seven about their daily bedtime ritual. Usually he would sing religious hymns to her each night, but as it was nearing Christmas she asked for a Christmas song to be sung instead. She wanted him to memorize the songs and sing them back to her, but not for the purpose of enjoyment but so that President Trump would not deport her father and mother back to Nepal and leave her and her younger brother alone if he appeared more American. The father told her it was his job to worry about that stuff not her. I was impacted by the fear and stress that such young children should not have to bear at such an age, this instance just emphasized with me the issue of refugees in our country. The United States refugee policy under Donald Trump is very restricting and the quota has been dramatically reduced compared to past years. I hope that through information like this documentary the United States can improve its policies relating to refugees.
The panel afterwards was also interesting as I was able to meet the people interviewed and who helped create the documentary in person. The panel was directed by a reporter from the local paper and allowed for discussion on personal experiences extending past the video and to more information on the support and creation of the whole project. It was nice to know the purposes behind their involvement and see some of the passion they held for the issue through a first-person experience. The documentary and panel expanded my views and knowledge about the issues on refugees in the world and in the United States. I am glad I attended this event as I was able to learn more and to empathize more with the issue of refugees by learning directly from the people and getting to know the personal stories behind them.
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