Reflection on Wildlights

For my International Affairs Scholars service requirement, I attended the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo. As I’m from Toledo, I have gone to the Lights before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo with my friends for several years now. That was why I was ecstatic to go on this trip with my fellow scholars. What made this event a service project was that we were able to get in by bringing five canned goods. Going in, I wasn’t sure whether or not we would be volunteering in some way at the Zoo, or simply enjoying the lights. It turns out we were just there to enjoy the lights, which was really fun, however I wish there was more of a service component. I planned on doing the mural as well, but I had something that day and didn’t make it.

Exploring the zoo was extremely fun. We saw all sorts of animals. Our first stop was the polar bears. I left the zoo a tad disappointed, because all we saw at the exhibit was these statues in the darkness. Upon writing this post, I realized that these statues were actually the polar bears when somebody pointed it out to me. Funny how life works. A similar experience happened when we passed by the bison. We thought they were rocks. The elephant exhibit was very interesting. I learned from a zookeeper that one of the elephant’s tusks were lower than the other tusk because he rests his trunk on that tusk. Also, there was another female who we didn’t get a chance to see because she was pregnant. However, my favorite exhibit of all was the Australian exhibit because I got to see the wombats.

I feel as though the lights turned out to be more of a social event. I was able to connect more to other International Affairs Scholars people. Living on the third floor of Smith-Steeb Hall, I haven’t had the chance to connect with many other IA people, who mainly live on the eighth floor. The friends that I do have in IA, I met in shared classes. After exploring the lights at the zoo, we headed to Olive Garden instead of taking the bus home. I had never actually been to Olive Garden, so it truly was an experience.

I will say, that though I had a fantastic time with my fellow IA Scholars, visiting the zoo wasn’t as fun for me as when I was little. Through out the night, in the back of my mind was the fact that all these animals were in captivity. I understand that zoos nowadays are used more for educational purposes and research, rather than simply entertainment, but it still was a problem for me. Tying this adventure into international affairs, I got the chance to stay with a host family in China the summer before my junior year of high school. While I was there, I visited an aquarium. There wasn’t enough space for any of the animals and it was really disheartening. I also got to visit a market place where they sold animals. The most adorable puppies were shoved into tiny crates that only had metal barring for bottoms. It was interesting to see how animal’s rights are perceived differently among nations. I am in no way saying that these problems don’t exist in the U.S. Animal abuse exists worldwide, and though it is not a major concern among the great politicians of the world, it definitely is an international issue.

Reflection on: Terrorism and the Middle East: The Threat and Solutions

I walked into Jennings Hall for the American Enterprise Institute Event, knowing very little of what it was about. Due to this, I was unsure of what I would learn from this event and how it would pertain to international affairs. When the topic was announced, I was intrigued to hear Dr. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute and Dr. Edward Crenshaw of The Ohio State University’s thoughts on terrorism and the Middle East. Honestly, during the conversation I felt overwhelmed. They each had sides to the conflict that I hadn’t heard before, and I found myself trying to comprehend exactly what they were saying. Both had extensive knowledge of the Middle East and Islam. I was able to take in much of what was being said as the two debated, but I wish I knew more on the issue.

The primary point I feel was made by both men, was that the terrorism from the Middle East is not the result of poverty and lack of education, but rather based in ideology. They stated that this issue was similar to the Cold War, a war of ideologies. For this reason, they both insisted that this type of terrorism should be called Radical Islam.

Dr. Michael Rubin knew verses from the Quran. I believe that understanding the mentality of those an issue concerns is incredibly important when finding a solution to the problem. Other points made, I found, not ignorant because they were both well educated on the matter, but pessimistic towards humanity. For example, one solution brought up was that the best way to solve conflict in the Middle East rooted in cultural differences, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “blood”. In other words letting them fight it out. This tactic was claimed by Dr. Edward Crenshaw, an idea that which Dr. Michael Rubin agreed. I feel this overlooks so much of the situation, and is an answer lacking creativity. It also ignores the fact that Palestine is not recognized by the rest of the world in the same way as Israel. Due to access to resources, it seems clear who would win. Regardless of that, many innocent lives would be lost. It would be no better than what is going on today.  The second generation idea was brought up, meaning that the most violent individuals are typically the children of immigrants because they have their feet in two cultures, and don’t exactly fit in. This was extremely hard for me to wrap my head around. It was an argument that could potentially fuel anti-immigrant debate, rather than inspire people to look to better ways for immigrants to be included in society.

I left slightly early, during the Q and As because I had class. While walking to class I called one of my high school friends, whose parents are from Pakistan (going back to the idea of second generation) and she is also a practicing Muslim. I wanted to hear the thoughts of someone who knows much more on the issue, and has experienced discrimination due to heritage. Specifically concerning the idea that terrorism steaming from the Middle East being called Radical Islam, she felt the ideas being laid down by Dr. Rubin and Dr. Crenshaw ignored the effect the title had on the Muslim community as a whole. I plan on talking to her more about the issue, but our conversation was cut short because I reach my classroom.

I won’t say that there wasn’t anything that I agreed with, but overall I did have problems with what was said. One thing I did find helpful was some advice from Dr. Rubin. Though I’m unsure whether or not I will go into International Relations, Dr. Michael Rubin shared that if an individual is looking to go into a career under the international umbrella, they predict where future conflicts will occur and then specialize in those places (he mentioned Algeria and Mauritania) so they are one step ahead of everyone else. All in all, I found the debate extremely interesting as I was able to see other sides of the debate.

Venezuelan Economic Crisis

       On Sunday, August 26th, I attended a current events conversation with Sam Stelnick, the academic chair of IA, and other IA members. The topic of discussion was the Venezuelan economic crisis. There was much to learn and it was interesting to discuss a topic on which I knew very little. There were some students involved in the discussion that knew a lot about the Venezuelan economic crisis, but the majority had little knowledge on the issue. This dynamic made for a very interesting conversation among peers. I knew that there were issues in Venezuela, however, until this meeting, I didn’t realize how deep there were embedded in the country. To show what this discussion taught me, the following is what I knew before. I knew that a major part of Venezuela economy was based on their oil. I also knew that the U.S. has a long and complicated history with Venezuela. Recognizing the importance of U.S. relations with Venezuela, but feeling that I knew little on the subject is what inspired me to attend the talk.

       When the discussion began, one thing that stuck out to me was the extent of the collapse of the Venezuelan economy. With a large amount of the world’s oil, it seems like it would be a country of great wealth, but clearly that is not the case. One factor is that inflation has become a huge problem. Facing major debts, the Venezuelan government made the decision to print more money, however as history has taught us, that leads to more chaos. The wealthy then started investing in the U.S. which further widened the wealth gap in Venezuela. When a situation happens like this in an economy, the poor are forced to start bartering. The creation of a black market becomes inevitable.

       On a brief side note, In highschool, I was taught that when Germany faced inflation following WWI, the economic balance of the nation was completely off center. I can’t help but to make the comparison between Germany in the early 1920s, and Venezuela today.

       Anyways, another thing that I learned was how many factors of the economy have been nationalized by the Venezuelan government. What I found out was that this creates an inexperienced staff, and so these industries become less proficient.

       One thing that the government has done to try and solve the problem, specifically under President Maldura, is raise the minimum wage. At the same time, raised the price of fuel for individuals that don’t have the fatherland card. However, those seemingly on the right track, this will have little to no impact on Venezuela’s current state. It is argued that pegging Venezuelan currency to the U.S. dollar would help to stabilize the economy. Though a solution with evidence for it, it is unlikely to occur as the U.S. is blamed for starting an economic war with Venezuela.

       In conclusion, I found this discussion on the Venezuelan economic crisis to be extremely educational. I find myself even now looking for other solutions to the problem and how practical they would be if applied. I also find myself more engaged with world economics, as I have come to recognized its importance.


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 Delete these instructions and add your own post.]


[ “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 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” 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 Delete these instructions and add your own post.]


[Artifacts are the items you consider to be representative of your academic interests and achievements. For each entry, include both an artifact and a detailed annotation.  An annotation includes both a description of the artifact and a reflection on why it is important to you, what you learned, and what it means for your next steps.  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 Delete these instructions and add your own post.]

About Me

[Your “About Me” is a brief biographical statement that might include your intended major, your academic interests, your goals, as well as the things that make you unique.  Definitely include a picture! Also, remember that you can always update this post at any point. 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 Delete these instructions and add your own post.]