Welcome to Savannah Sabo’s ePortfolio! Savannah is a current second-year undergraduate student from Ashland, OH pursuing a degree in Pre-Nursing with a minor in Spanish. She is a member of the International Affairs Scholar Program (IA) within the University Honors and Scholars Center and is a mentor to first-year IA members. While never traveling outside the United States, she has a great interest in learning about different cultural backgrounds and foreign affairs. Aside from her scholar program, she also participates in Buckeye Student Nursing Association (BSNA), Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS), and the church organization Cru. She strongly desires to help those who need it while expanding her knowledge of foreign affairs and other scholarly subjects.
From to 90s until the present, Arabic literature in the Mediterranean region have displayed a common theme of forced migration among many works of fiction. Forced migration is the involuntary movement of a certain group of people because of environmental, political, or societal causes. These could include (but are not limited to) natural disasters, coercion, discrimination, threats from other groups, etc. This type of literature focuses specifically on the perspective of refugees and those who have been displaced. The main idea of this theme is that these people, either real or fictional, did not have a choice in their forced movement. Many books also display themes related to the idea of belonging somewhere, the concept of borders, and non-realist narratives to name a few. Because many countries in the Mediterranean region have literature with the same themes, many questions about refugees, and they are grouped into various categories when studied by scholars. The earliest example of this kind of book discussed at Professor Sellman’s presentation was Bird of the East written in 1938. This book touched upon the idea of a disillusioned Western civilization and the differences between the East and West hemispheres of the world. Dr. Sellman also brought up the idea of seasons of migration and how that affects the different literary works. Seasons correspond with the idea of something happening to someone that is outside of their control, much like the weather or the forced migration represented in Arabic books. Many writers who do not display migration stories from experience romanticize this idea to connect to their readers. They create their art from alienation, and these works must be treated as art when analyzed by scholars and those involved in research on this topic. The danger of not taking this approach is that someone will think that because they read one book from the viewpoint of a refugee experiencing forced migration, they will think they have read all books that fit into this category. They then place all refugees’ stories into one category without experiencing the diversity in this described set of works of art. This makes them resistance to the wide variety of works present. Dr. Sellman talked about four different approaches she took while doing research on this topic: responding to media narratives on refugees, critical border and citizenship studies, intertextuality, and defamiliarization. Overall, Dr. Sellman made some very good points on analyzing this specific set of literature while explaining her thought process and research priorities. With the conflicts that occur on a daily basis in this area, migration is seen as a “crisis” and keeps us involved the present actions happening in the world around us, even if we are not there to witness it. Many aspects of these books relate to those before it from the same regions and display similar symbolism and perspectives while also adapting to modern day occurrences and slightly changing perspectives. In summary, she explained the importance of the methods used to analyze literature while also keeping the cultural contexts in mind.
For my service event this semester, a small group of IA members and I trekked trough the cold to volunteer at Star House. Star house is an organization that aims to help homeless youth, ages 14-24, in the Columbus community. They offer many different services twenty-four hours a day. Star House is considered a walk-in shelter because they do not allow people to lie down and sleep, but people may sleep as long as they remain upright. Youth who use the shelter has access to laundry, a kitchen, a warm place to escape the cold or dangerous people in their lives, and also receive different resources that they would not usually have access to, like toiletries and clothes. Our IA group worked on sorting clothes in their warehouse. We were responsible for making sure the clothes in the bins were neatly organized, sorting the right type of clothes were in the correct bins, and removing access clothing in order to send in to the free store. Another scholar group that were at Star House the same morning worked on picking up trash around the building and surrounding buildings. The outreach person explained to us that Star House has a “good neighbor” agreement with their neighbors. This basically means that Star House will make sure the youth does not loiter on the neighboring buildings’ yards, and that they also will pick up any trash and make sure everyone’s yard looks good and, well, not trashy. My experience with Star House was really good. I enjoyed volunteering for them and helping them out, especially since they help out so many youth in Columbus. Their work is really inspiring, and they continue to help “Star House Graduates” (basically those who have aged out of the program) with health consultant resources, jobs resources, and so many other opportunities that these people might not have if Star House did not exist. If the resources and opportunities were available, I would hope that Star House would expand and seek other locations around Columbus to add branches to their shelter. Columbus has so many suburbs and subgroups that having only one Star House would not be able to help all homeless youth around Columbus. Maybe in the future, the owner of Star House could maybe consider setting up one star House on each side of the metropolis that is Columbus, having four locations: north, south, east, and west Columbus. This organization helps to give opportunities to those who might not have had a chance otherwise, and I feel that this idea is something that should be expanded across Columbus and hopefully across the state in the future. With being at the university 24/7, it is easy to forget that there is a world outside of Ohio State; therefore it is beneficial to volunteer for organizations like this that do such incredible work for the youth and people of Columbus, and to think about how large issues, like homelessness, could be helped or even solved in the future.
For my academic event this semester, I decided to attend German Night at the German House with Kate and other IA scholars. German Night interested me because I have German ethnicity (along with ethnicities from nine other European countries) and always want to learn more about the cultures in different countries. I also have met multiple teenagers from Germany from foreign exchange or through other family members and talked to them about their life in Germany, their school system, and their activities. I thought it was interesting how Kate mentioned the history of Germany starting from the Roman empire up until present day Germany. With my knowledge from my History of Holocaust class I took last semester, I was able to recall the history of Germany from 1871 to the 1940s. However, the entire summary of the region’s history was really interesting considering that I have always loved my history classes throughout the years. My family has many history nerds; my brother can name off just about any history related to sports (he’s a walking encyclopedia). But for me, Germany is an incredibly interesting region in Europe, and its history definitely validates that idea. If I could learn more about myself through Germany, I would love to know where in the Germanic state my ancestors lived, their professions, and when they traveled over to the United States. For example, did me family flee Germany before World War II, or did they travel across the sea many years before then? I also thoroughly enjoyed learning about Germany today, because in today’s public school systems (or at least in Ohio), students are lucky to learn about the Cold War, let alone any events from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. Her presentation was very thought provoking and very informative, and the food was delicious. Interesting enough, the Spanish language has Germanic influences from the medieval period in Europe from when Spain’s “rulers” were constantly shifting with different groups conquering the territory. While this information seems somewhat trivial, it is relevant to me in multiple ways: it connects to my Germany ethnicity and love for Spanish culture, and it somewhat relates to my second year experience project. I plan on doing an independent research project on Spanish linguistics, so knowing this information helps to understand why the language is the way it is, and to view how it has evolved over hundreds of years. It combines these two aspects in a way that someone might think does not make sense, but it is quite interesting to analyze and read into the specifics of Spanish language. It is surprising yet intriguing how two completely separate cultures can affect each other despite time or distance and create the complexity that is culture within different identities of people. Both Spanish and German influences affect my life in different ways, but I strongly identify with my semi-mysterious ethnicity and my constant desire to learn more about the Spanish language and continue to see their presences in my life.
The Dark is an intriguing Austrian horror film, and was shown for Global Engagement night at Gateway Film Center on November 28, 2018. While I am usually not fond of horror related movies, The Dark presented a much deeper message that its audience could easily relate to. Most American horror movies’ main goal is to scare the audience with a suspenseful story line and no real deeper, hidden meaning; this movie, however, after the first fifteen minutes of the movie, there was less of a horrific tone and more of a love story aspect including the plot and characters. Because my knowledge of smaller, international films is very limited, it was interesting to see how the writers and directors pieced together the scenes and plots of the movie. This film was much less predictable than usual American films that follow similar blueprints for each movie. The Dark used interesting character development tools such as mystery and flashbacks to present the terrible events some face in their everyday life and the numbness and pain people feel after experiencing a traumatic event; in this case, the main character, Mena, experiences attempted rape by her mother’s boyfriend, and then is beaten to death and buried half-alive by said boyfriend. Throughout the movie, the main character’s dreams are replaced with flashbacks of how she ended up as a zombie. I found it very interesting that they used the flashbacks as “dreams” as a metaphor for how traumatic events rob people of their happy thoughts, hopes, and dreams. People often let these events define part of their identity until they can finally cope and move on. The writers and directors of this movie created a very interesting way of implying this idea throughout the film without being explicit about the consequences of such events. The boy Mena encounters in the woods helps her to slowly heal throughout the movie. His characteristic of being blind is really important to the plot of the movie; because he’s blind, he cannot see that Mena is a zombie and does not immediately judge her. His blindness is a metaphor for being judge-free and open to caring for people who have been through these kinds of experiences. His kindness and friendship is the only kind of affection she receives for the entirety of the movie until she starts letting people back into her life when she became human again, like the women who picked her up at the end of the movie. The overall message of the movie is about healing, but the movie leaves the audience with many question regarding the characters and plot. Overall, The Dark challenges its audience to think about the deeper meaning of the movie and not simply focus on the horror related aspects. While the horrific special effects were not as good as American films usually show, it still allowed for parts of the movie to be scary, but also added comedic elements to make the tone a little lighter.
On Friday, October 26, I volunteered at the Symposiums on Indigenous Languages and Cultures of Latin America (ILCLA), and on Teaching and Learning Indigenous Languages of Latin America (STLILLA) for an International Affairs Scholars service event. This event featured four days of lectures, presentations, dinners, and other activities associated with Latin American language and culture. I was able to meet and connect with Dr. Megan Hasting, the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) assistant director, and talk to her about Spanish curriculum here at Ohio State and the nature of the ILCLA/STLILLA symposiums. One really interesting concept of the symposium was that the lectures and presentations were either in English or Spanish, depending on the language the title appeared as in the program. The symposium allows the presenters to choose whether they want to present in Spanish or English so that the presenters feel comfortable sharing their information and discoveries. Along with meeting Dr. Hasting, I also had the opportunity to meet other OSU faculty members of the CLAS department and guests of the symposium that came from over fifty different universities and colleges from around the world. Many of the guests would greet me in Spanish, and using the language skills I have acquired over the past six years of studying Spanish, I was able to have a conversation with them. This experience allowed me to use my language skills as well as network with faculty at OSU that could later help me with my Spanish minor or any other interests I might pursue in Spanish in the future. This conference was especially intriguing because I want to conduct research in comparative dance among Hispanic or Latino countries for my Second Year Experience Project for IA; attending this event allowed me to get my foot in the door with faculty who could potentially help me with this research or find someone else here at OSU who would be willing. I have always been interested in Hispanic and Latino heritage and culture, so I am glad I was able to experience this conference. Speaking in Spanish with faculty and guests made me realize that my speaking skills are not as bad as I thought they were after not having studied Spanish for a few months. I was also inspired and encouraged to take Spanish related classes next semester: two for my minor, and one as a literature GE. While I am not hereditarily Hispanic or Latino, I still enjoy learning and discovering news things that I had not known previously. This cultural passion ties in with my passion for IA because it revolves around many countries in both Central and South America and Europe, and also allows me to connect with people here in the United States who originate from these regions and celebrate their cultures and ethnicities. My experience with the ILCLA/STLILLA conference allowed me to expand my professional and educational horizons while also allowing me to practice a language I love and to learn more about the people I aspire to meet and places I hope go to someday.
On Friday, September 14th, Brooke Ackerly, a professor at Vanderbilt University, explained the effects of climate change on the country of Bangladesh and its people at the Mershon Center. She noted that the people of Bangladesh persist on creating clay walls for their major water ways, prohibiting water from flowing naturally. This creates flooding issues and other destructive acts to farms and other businesses in the region. The people have to keep replacing their water wells because each new one breaks, and their government does little or nothing to fix this problem, and many other problems. Many people have turned to shrimp farming because their houses that once sat on land now hangs above the river they farm on. Their houses had to be moved. The people rely on clay walls for their shrimp farms because concrete, a material that most Americans view as being strong and suitable for most environments, is not a feasible option. Construction has a two year warranty because the concretes erodes away at such a fast rate. If the people of this region of Bangladesh are not shrimp farming, they have other work somewhere close by, or work around the house. It is not feasible for these people to travel to other regions on the country to seek work at land farms or factories, so they adapt to make a living. Many of the farmers experience pirates along the river on a day-to-day basis. These pirates take one share of the farmers catch for the day, then give him a coupon showing other pirates that this farmer has already lost a share that day. Depending on the whether, inhabitants change the location of the door in their house. In response to trying to improve the quality of life due to effects from the climate, Ackerly spoke about grounded normative theory in respect to her focused region in Bangladesh. While I was not able to fully grasp the concepts of this theory, I thought that Ackerly’s argument was very intriguing. I was not aware at first that she would only be focusing her lecture on one region of the world, so it was interesting to see her take on how the changing climate affects an area of the world that most Americans rarely think about. She gave an excellent presentation that kept her audience engaged the entire time. Ackerly presented an in-depth explanation about how the rainy season and dry season both affect the people she studied, and how people can take what she learned from these studies and find a way to be responsible for actions that could lead to climate change. I thought this presentation would demonstrate ideas similar to what people think of as stereotypical climate change suggestions: recycle, use less water, ride a bike instead of driving, etc. However, Ackerly did not present these stereotypical ideas that Americans think of, but rather proposed better and more useful theories and ideas that would better improve the bigger picture of climate change: solving how climate affects the entire earth.
Pen PALS (Peers Advancing Literacy in Students)
This program demonstrates values that I hope to display and improve upon while being part of the program: helping others, caring for others, watching people improve and grow, and connecting with others. Throughout my entire life, I have desired to help others in any way possible, no matter how big or small the task. With this program, I am capable of helping elementary school-aged children in the Columbus area learn how to become better writers and to expand their ability as well as vocab, their understanding of grammar, and spelling. Although this program is not entirely related to my personal academics, it is extremely important to me because of the values it presents and because I have enjoyed every letter from Hayden, my 5th grade mentee. Letters simply bring joy to people, along with the other values previously mentioned; but this lost art form also becomes a renewed way to connect to someone in a more personal sense. I hope to become more involved in this program and run for leadership positions during my next four years here at Ohio State, but for now, the pleasure of being able to help and connect with others will be enough.
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