2nd Year Reflection #4

Three weeks ago on Thursday, January 16th, I spent an hour in Hagerty Hall Room 180 attending the academic/ professional development event: A Day in the Life of a Harvard Law Student. At this event, we gathered around Lindsey’s laptop for a FaceTime call with Sam Harris, Ohio State and IA Alum (’19), to hear about her experiences as a 1L at Harvard Law School. I was very excited for this event and the opportunity to hear from Sam because just last year we were living on the same floor, and I looked forward to catching up a little with the life of the best Resident Advisor ever.

After a bout of technical difficulties, we were able to secure a connection with Sam, and she started to tell us all about her experience during her first semester as well as what it took from her time at OSU to get there. While this event did not particularly relate to the topic of International Affairs, I did gain a lot personally from Sam’s advice and the sharing of her experiences at Harvard thus far. In the hour-long discussion, I would say that I took away three major pieces advice imparted upon us by Sam.

The first piece of advice that I found to be extremely relevant and applicable to my current situation was from Sam’s explanation that in applying to the top schools that she did, no one cared about what positions she held in clubs or how many honors societies she was in; they were more interested in what she put into and got out of her involvements. She encouraged us to actually participate and get involved in things on campus that interest us and not to do something just so we can add it to our resume; in doing so, she said that we would have at least as much if not more to talk about from taking part in something that we were actually passionate about, which I found to be very reassuring.

Secondly, she advised us, in typical Sam fashion, to exploit Ohio State for all that we could, whether it be through STEP or applying for as many study abroad and academic scholarships as possible. She explained that she didn’t pay a penny for any of her experiences abroad, and she suggested that we do the same. Finally, she gave us insight to the application process for Top 14 law schools, as Harvard, and she dispelled common myths and misconceptions for us while giving useful pointers and advice. I was very surprised to hear about how typical and behaviorally based her interviews were. And I was most surprised to hear that not a lot of schools even required them.

I found the call to be extremely helpful and informative in regards to how I should spend the rest of my time here at Ohio State and how best to prepare for the next chapter of my life. I very much enjoyed hearing from Sam and how she has been while also learning from her experiences and the successes that got her to where she is today. I am really happy that I decided to attend this event, and I look forward to taking what I learned from Sam and applying it myself (and, of course, to the next time we hear from THE Samantha Harris again).

2nd Year Reflection #3

Two weeks ago on Monday, September 2nd, I spent two hours from 5:00-7:00pm on the 3rd floor of Page Hall attending a professional development event at the Battelle Center Professional Development Workshop. I did have doubts as I came into this event, though, as I was skeptical of what all else I would learn beyond what I had picked up from being in a professional business fraternity for the past year. To my great fortune and surprise, I learned a lot. 

The workshop focused on the transition students go through when they graduate and become professionals. We engaged in a facilitated conversation with three Battelle Center Alumni who have established themselves in the workplace at various organizations and agencies, and they helped to bring us to a better understanding of the transition from student life to that of a young professional. While this event did not specifically relate to the topic of International Affairs or any other topics I have learned in my coursework, I did gain a lot professionally from this event. 

Before addressing all of the panelists with any unanswered questions from the collective group of students, we were split up into three small groups and each assigned to a panelist to first have our questions answered on a more intimate level. I was assigned to the group led by panelist and former Aerospace Engineering student Howie Schulman. He now works for Made In Space, Inc. in Jacksonville Florida as an aerospace engineer and has done so since before his graduation in 2018 in starting there as an intern in their early startup phase. Howie addressed the notion of burnout and its reality through his experience working for a budding startup and surrounded by the grind culture that absorbed him and his time. He explained its draining and depressing effects and then transitioned to the importance of having a healthy work-life balance. He told us how he stayed active by frequenting the beach to surf on the weekends as well as filling his time outside of work during the week by hanging out with friends and grabbing drinks at local bars for the sake of his social life and sanity.

Some other great tips that I gathered from the session including all three panelists were to respect the time of your superiors and to keep notes, as weird as it sounds, on your coworkers. All panelists agreed on the importance of respecting the time of your superiors before asking them questions that can be answered with five minutes of research on Google or keeping them from work by dragging out a conversation for too long. One panelist explained the importance of their time, and, while it is extremely valuable and should take advantage of their wisdom, we should be mindful of its importance to the superior themselves, as well. The third panelist also suggested that we keep notes on our coworkers not just for water cooler conversation starters but also to help us make lasting connections with our coworkers as we begin to get to know the office and the organization; she explained how this helped her to keep the overload of new details in order, too. All of the panelists also stressed the importance of maintaining relationships not only for professional gain but personally, as well, which I really appreciated. 

I found the conference to be extremely helpful and informative in regards to etiquette and approach upon entering the work force. I very much enjoyed learning from the panelists and hearing their unique perspectives formed by their personal experiences in each of their respective fields. I am very glad that I decided to attend this panel, and I look forward to taking what I learned on that day and applying it myself.

2nd Year Reflection #2

This past Friday morning on September 27th, I spent an hour and a half, from 9:00-10:30am, on the 11th floor of Thompson Library attending a non-IA event at the COMPAS Conference titled “Who is an American?” At this event, I was educated on a variety of topics regarding what people think it means and what it actually means to be “an American.” I thoroughly enjoyed this event not only for its content but also for it open forum, free-spoken structure where the panelists fielded audience questions and made a very intellectual, academic event feel much more conversational. 

While this event does not directly relate to any other topics I have learned about in other coursework, this event specifically relates to the topic of International Affairs in its relation to the vast spectrum that is the American population and the influence of this population on political, economic, and legal facets of the United States. For the half of the conference that I was able to attend, the two panelists that spoke on these matters were Deborah Schildkraut, a political science professor from Tufts University, and Elizabeth Cohen, a professor at Syracuse University whose focus lies in citizenship and related fields.

I gained a lot personally from the conference in knowledge and conversational fire-power that allowed me to be better informed and to better contribute towards discussions relating to the idea of what it means to be American. In the same way, I gained a lot academically in being challenged by these notions of what it means to be American and learning from the conversation surrounding this topic that blossomed from the panelists’ presentations.

Professor Schildkraut spoke mostly on the statistics behind U.S. citizen sentiments towards the idea of what it means to be an American, and the numbers were quite interesting. According to a couple of studies, having American ancestry and being born in the U.S. were deemed least important by the survey participants, of the questions asked, in regards to what it means to be an American. Conversely, following American customs and speaking English were deemed to be the two most important facets of being an American. Very interestingly, as well, under 25% of the participants thought that it was important to be of European heritage or descent while over 50% decided that being Christian was important to be considered an American. 

Professor Cohen spoke a lot on citizenship and cited some facts regarding our current administration and public attitudes about immigration and immigration policy. She talked on the Trump administration and how Trump has decided to create a mass deportation machine because “we” have decided that these people cannot be here. She told us that the budget for ICE is ten times larger than the budget for INS was in 1993, and also how customs and border protection is now larger than all other law agencies. After sharing these statistics, she wanted to emphasize that we should recognize that before we try to push those out who are wanting to attain citizenship, they are American, too.

Cohen said that, from her research and experience, public opinion generally supports the idea of immigrations and immigrants, and if we derived our legislation from public opinion the circumstances of placement might be made better. Around these circumstances, I thought Professor Schildkraut made a great point in that there is a constant nostalgia for the good old days when people actively pursued the American dream, citizenship, and learning English… but that still exists today and in such great capacity. Professor Cohen agreed in her belief, a very commonly shared one, that we are a nation of immigrants, but today’s immigrants, whenever today is, are always compared to these mythical immigrants of earlier times that were, for whatever reason (and very falsely claimed), easier to take.

With the discussion-based vibe of the conference, it was brought up by an audience member that it is incorrect and exclusive to say that we are a nation of immigrants when many generations’ ancestors were brought to the U.S. involuntarily and against their will. I found this to be a great point and definitely something to keep in mind the more I speak and reflect on this topic. In the same way, it was noted by Professor Cohen that she tries as hard as she can to avoid speaking and writing using the word “American” because it refers not only to the United States but the continental Americas. 

This was a pet peeve of mine when I was abroad this past summer, and, when asked where we were from, my friend would respond, “… from America,” instead of correctly explaining that we were from the United States. The last point that Professor Schildkraut made that I found to be quite interesting and unfortunate at the same time was that, while the results of the surveys were interesting, it is important to note that just because the participants showed strong feelings and support for immigration, the data reveals no evidence of action. 

I found the conference to be extremely interesting, though-provoking, and informative. I very much enjoyed learning from the panelists and hearing from the number of unique perspectives provided by audience, as well. I am very glad that I decided to attend this conference as I was enlightened by the issues surrounding Americanism, and my own perspective and approach to such topics and related issues were enhanced, as well.

2nd Year Reflection #1

A few weeks ago, on August 27th, I spent an hour of my afternoon attending an information session and presentation about the 9 Dimensions of Wellness put on by the Student Wellness Center from 7:00-8:00pm in Mendenhall 100. At this Academic event, we were educated on a variety of topics including the programs and services provided by the Student Wellness Center, the 9 Dimensions of Wellness, how to set “SMART Goals,” and more. It was very useful information and served as a much-needed refresher and elaboration on the services and programs we were educated on during my first year as well as an introduction to other services, programs, and approaches to wellness that I had not yet had insight on.

While this event does not specifically relate to the topic of International Affairs or any other topics I have learned about in my coursework, it can be more broadly applied to either as it has to do with my own personal wellness and the wellness of others, both of which are pertinent to any and all activities or pursuits I might take part in that include other people. With everything going on in the lives of college students these days, I think it was especially important for the first years and second years alike to be educated, or re-educated, on the topic of overall wellness and how to achieve it via individual means as well as through the free campus programs provided by the Student Wellness Center.

I found learning about programs including the Nutrition Coaching, the Body Project, Wellness Ambassadors, and Wellness Coaching to be most interesting and important in the span of the one hour session. While all nine dimensions are important, I feel strongly that, especially for college students, the two most important, foundational, and fundamental dimensions to ensure success in achieving wellness in all other seven dimensions are physical and emotional wellness. With these dimensions being the most important in my opinion, I do not mean to discredit any of the other dimensions or programs affiliated with them. Personally, I have seen and experienced struggle with both of these dimensions and have found that it is helpful to be well in these areas to achieve wellness in the others. Also, these programs stuck out to me because they are either programs I would like to use myself or would like for others to make use of being that they are free and so easily accessed. 

I found the presentation to be extremely helpful and informative. I very much enjoyed the the goal setting activities along with the open discussions about these goals and their relation to the nine dimensions of wellness. The other scholars were very open and revealing in their answers which surprised me because most of the attendees were first years. Their honesty and vulnerability was inspiring and their intentions to accomplish these goals were encouraging. I am very glad that I decided to attend this presentation on the 9 Dimensions of Wellness put on by the Student Wellness Center because of the insight that I gained not only into all the university has to offer but into the lives of my fellow peers, as well. 

Reflection #6

Last weekend on April 6th, I spent an hour of my afternoon volunteering at the Board of Activities for Smith-Steeb’s Sibs and Kids Weekend Carnival Extravaganza, a Service event that I was able to work from 4 to 5pm outside of Smith-Steeb Hall. At the event, I helped with the arrangement and distribution of the different snacks provided at the venue, and I also helped to encourage attendees to sign up for the free raffling of the ten dollar gift cards that were given away during the event.  

I was surprised by how much this event touched me in the way that it did, especially with the semester coming to close so soon. It was a blast getting to watch the kids run around and have fun with their older siblings as they jumped on the inflatables and threw a football back and forth. Not one kid left without a smile on their face whether it be due to the snow cone they were devouring or the joke their older brother or sister had made to them, and that stood out to me. What stood out even more to me, however, was the inattention paid to the raffling by the kids and siblings as we gave out the gift cards. I mean, FREE MONEY, people; those are two words every person loves to hear. Am I right?! Either way, most everyone at the event were pretty inattentive during this piece of the programming, and it was a struggle to get them to quiet down and focus enough on the giveaway. This was largely in part due to their desire to keep playing with one another and with their family because of their time away and the gift that was this reunion. And that stuck with me, too.

While the event itself and my role volunteering did not relate to the topic of International Affairs, I personally gained a lot from this experience. I very much needed to see these interactions and smiling faces which served to me as a reminder of the blessings that are my siblings and my family. Whilst being away at college, I have in no way forgotten about my siblings or my family, but I have not kept up with them as much as I should have. After everything they have done for me and are to me, this experience has woken me up to my actions, or lack thereof. While there are so many distractions to keep me from calling or a sending a simple text, there is still no excuse not to take the time for these simple actions. When I think about the things that are most important in my life, family always falls at the top of the list, and volunteering on that Saturday has opened my eyes to my hypocrisy, there. And while I cannot wait to be home and will be very soon, that has not stopped me and will not stop me from sending an “I love you” to my parents or a meme to my little brothers every day for the rest of the semester. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed the Sibs and Kids Weekend Carnival Extravaganza and the atmosphere it created. The students and their siblings alike were awesome, and the experience as a whole reminded me to reflect more on my immediate family, beyond the Buckeye family that surrounds me every day. I am very glad that I decided to volunteer at the Sibs and Kids Weekend Carnival Extravaganza, and I look forward to bringing my siblings to participate next year, as well. 

Reflection #5

This past weekend on March 3rd I spent my evening at Arab Night, a Non-IA event starting at 6 PM in Performance Hall at the Ohio Union. There, I was simply a member of the audience, but I was immediately immersed into the culture and the spirit of the other attendees; everyone was smiling and singing and cheering, celebrating their country and their culture. This event greatly impacted my perspective on the existence of such a large Arab student population on this campus, consisting of about 3,000 students, and their underrepresentation. At the event, they employed a part of their “We Exist” campaign to push for the recognition of Middle Eastern and North African as an ethnic category on papers and applications and for the consideration and creation of certain scholarships. I found this movement and passion from the students to be very inspiring and long overdue, in my opinion.

The event consisted of many parts including a musical performance, poetry, and a fashion show, but my favorite part of this event was the initial procession and presentation of the countries and the flags. The national pride and exaltation of identity among the presenters and those in the audience was incredible, contagious, even. And I found that I could not help but smile as each country came in, one after the other. I very much enjoyed the communal aspect of this event what with the large portion of the audience being non-students, and I was surprised, probably mostly due to my own ignorance, by the large Palestinian representation amongst the crowd and students. Their patriotism was exciting, and the participating students were so proud of their heritage that two students who presented the flag for Jordan even ran back into the processional line to represent Palestine, too. This pride was inspiring, and their love for their culture and their identity was unlike anything I’ve seen in many other places. 

I really gained a lot from this experience personally through this pride that the students and the attendees showed in regards to their culture and identity. With my dad being from Venezuela, and therefore my being half-Venezuelan, I feel a sense of guilt almost after attending Arab Night. Seeing the immense passion in their patriotism and the expression of their pride made me feel bad about my own reception and expression of my Venezuelan culture and heritage. While my family continues to eat Venezuelan cuisine every Wednesday night back at home, I have struggled to keep up the tradition after coming to college. Being away from home, I have also lacked a general exposure to my Venezuelan culture, and, after Arab Night, I find myself feeling the need to further involve myself and surround myself with my Hispanic background here on campus as these Arab students have. 

 Overall, I very much enjoyed Arab Night and the atmosphere it cultivated. The organizers and attendees alike were wonderful, and the experience as a whole was very thought-provoking, inducing a lot of self-reflection. I am very glad that I decided to attend Arab Night, and I look forward to attending next year, as well.

Reflection #4

Yesterday on January 28th, I spent an hour at an Academic event, “So You Think You Can Research?” on the first floor of Smith-Steeb Hall. There, I attended a question and answers based discussion with a panel of undergraduate students seeking to better inform us about research opportunities and their experiences with research on campus. The activity very much opened my eyes to wealth of different research opportunities and the many different routes to take when conducting research or assisting in such. For example, when I heard the word “research,” up until this event I had always only associated the word with scientific studies and experiments. Naively, I never thought that the word could be applied to many different fields like the arts and humanities or economics and international studies; I found the variety and many the many different possibilities to be very interesting and encouraging should I decide to pursue research at all. 

This event, while not obviously related to International Affairs, is tied to the area in its scope because, as I have learned, there can be research done in many different disciplines and International Affairs encompasses a variety of these different fields done. While this event does not relate to any other topics I have learned about in my coursework thus far, I gained a lot from this event academically. Beyond learning the range of possibility when coming to the area in which research can be conducted, I also learned a lot about the different types of research conducted across these different areas. The levels of commitment and the methods of conduction for the different types of research across the different disciplines was interesting, and the variety of options and personalization in deciding the type of desired research was also appealing. 

It was great to hear how much all of the students on the panel loved their research experiences, too. They spoke very highly of their research projects, and they were very passionate about their exploration in their given fields of research. One pice of advice imparted on me that they stressed very highly, though, was that you should only participate in research that you actually care about, and that if you are committing time to a project that you are not happy on and that does not interest you then you should drop it and all parties involved will be completely understanding. Another thing I found to be very cool in the overall idea of research was where these students had started and where they were taking their research. Now, they are writing their own theses and leading their own studies which I found to be very inspiring and impressive. 

After attending this event, I would love to learn more about the different research possibilities within business and possibly those outside of Fisher, as well. I would definitely like to better understand what I could do to take part in research on campus and to see whether or not research is something for me. Overall, I very much enjoyed the panel, and I am glad to have had my eyes opened to such unique and enriching opportunities.

Reflection #3

This past weekend on December 1st, I spent an hour at an Academic event, a conference on “Societies Under Stress: Welfare and Penal Policies amid Rising Insecurity,” at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. There, I attended a talk led by Sarah Brooks and Marianne Ulriksen on their paper titled: “Why do people support redistribution in high-crime settings?” More specifically, they spoke to redistribution in South Africa and their high-crime setting. This topic definitely changed my perspective on apartheid and its effect on the people of South Africa as well as their thoughts on apartheid retrospectively. It was very interesting to see the responses of citizens reflecting on apartheid in hindsight and hearing their different opinions and feelings on it in relation to redistribution. 

This event directly relates to the topic of International Affairs in its analysis of redistribution and its relation to rising insecurity across the globe and more specifically in South Africa. The insight provided by citizens in different focus groups and surveys was very informative and gave such unique perspectives in regards to redistribution and apartheid. This topic does not necessarily relate to any other topics I have learned in my coursework, but I did gain a lot from the event academically. 

While the critiques on the paper and its methods from the panel were warranted and no-doubt useful for the authors, I was most interested in the content and analysis of the paper presented. I was not surprised by the fact that people were in general agreement that the government should do something to reduce inequality. Brooks and Ulriksen noted that people supported redistribution but disagreed with what they wanted to be taxed on to improve services. The tax burden fell on the wealthy, and the poorer people were in strong support of redistribution due to fear of crime and the reasons behind this crime, something I had never thought of. 

This is where I was most intrigued by the relation between crime and support for redistribution, much of which stems from apartheid. What with South Africa’s work towards equality now, people think that criminals have more rights than they did because there is too much freedom. This is a very odd-sounding take on freedom to have and something I never would have thought to be an issue. But back in the days of apartheid, there was more order, and people had this sense that things were better, or at least more controlled, with the existence of violent retribution. Now, police are afraid of gangsters, and some people think they should bring back the death penalty because it would control the gangsters.

This take on redistribution and apartheid seemed so foreign and extreme to me that the people would want to reinstate something like the death penalty. Other thoughts like the citizens’ idea that criminals have it even better in prison with too many rights and KFC chicken is almost laughable. But at the same time, these different perspectives are very eye-opening and shocking in a good way. The authors’ relation of this current situation to that of post-communist Eastern European countries where the same people who hated communism became nostalgic of the days when there was no crime on the streets was also incredibly insightful.

After attending this event, I would love to learn more about South African citizens’ experience with apartheid and its influence on their thoughts about redistribution. I would definitely like to better understand their individual thought processes and the analysis of the responses from the different socioeconomic groups, as well. Overall, I very much enjoyed the conference, and I am glad to have had my eyes opened to such an authentic perspective and concept. 

Reflection #2

About three weeks ago on October 9th, I spent an hour at a Non-IA event at the Global Engagement Night in the Enarson Classroom Building. There we watched two TEDx Talks videos and discussed them in small groups with other attendees and student-leaders in the Office of International Affairs. I was very impressed by the thoughtfulness of the activity and the insight from those in my group as we reflected on the talks. We watched two talks, but the one that had the most effect on me was the one given by Lizzie Velasquez titled “How do you define yourself?” Born with a rare disorder that prevents her from gaining weight, Lizzie endured a lot of negativity and bullying growing up that shaped who she was while at the same time refusing to let her condition itself define her. 

In her talk, Lizzie said something that really stood out to me: “Tell me those negative things. And I’m gonna turn them around and use them as a ladder to climb up to my goals.” Her positive outlook and adaptation to such adversity was so inspiring, and also something with which I could relate to. Although this event does not necessarily relate to the topic of International Affairs, I personally gained a lot from Lizzie’s story as I could relate with her situation on a much smaller level. In the same way that Lizzie began to fall behind and notice her being different from the other kids as she grew older, I, too, began to experience a change in my body, or lack thereof, as I aged. Obviously to a lesser extent, it was still evident that I was behind the curve in terms of physical growth. 

Having played soccer all my life, I relied a lot on my speed and relative size when I was younger. Come middle school, though, I really started to fall behind in size as everyone else began to mature physically and gain from their growth athletically. While all of my teammates and opponents continued to grow, I stayed the same size. I suddenly wasn’t faster than everyone else, and I got pushed off of the ball much more easily. This went on well into high school and has understandably affected my role on every team that I have been on since. Not letting the lack of playing time or drop from the starting lineup affect me, though, I used the experience, much like Lizzie did with her condition, to grow and to shape me. 

Lizzie’s talk reminded me a lot of this time in my life and the constructive approach I took to such hardships. Instead of giving up on soccer and letting my stunted growth define me, I continued to play and accepted my new role on the team as a source of energy and positivity for the rest of the team, a player anyone could look to for a smile or to talk. These circumstances helped me to realize the reason for my love of soccer as well as how to define myself and my approach life, too. I definitely did not realize this at the time, but Lizzie’s words and our discussions after the video helped my to look back and appreciate the adversity that has made me who I am, much like Lizzie did, too. I was able to take those negative things and turn them around and use them as a ladder to become the person I am today and that I am proud to be. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed meeting the people there at the event, and I am so glad with what I was able to take away, as well. 

Reflection #1

This past Tuesday, September 25th, I spent an hour doing service with other International Affairs scholars during the CRIS Tree of Hope Project on the first floor of Smith-Steeb Hall. I was very touched by the sentiment of the activity and also by the thought of the impact we are going to be able to have on the lives of the kids at Columbus Global Academy. I am so glad to be a light for those kids in need, and I am especially glad to aid in their adjusting to life in the United States. This activity didn’t necessarily change my beliefs or biases, but it did open my eyes a little bit more to better understand the lives and the struggles of refugee children. In most of my thinking and hearing about refugees, the main point of focus is on that of the lives of refugees as a community or on the struggle of refugee families as a whole and not necessarily the individuals, in this case the children, that make up this refugee population. 

This event relates to the topic of International Affairs in that, through this activity, we were able to indirectly connect with other cultures and international backgrounds in a constructive, welcoming, and understanding way. Personally, I gained a lot from this experience. It was a great thing and a great feeling to help make these students feel welcome, especially in today’s political climate. It was upsetting to hear about their situation and treatment as they have come here to Columbus from all across the world escaping violence and hardships only to be made to feel unwelcome and unloved. To hear this was very hard, but to then be able to help the kids and to make them understand that they are welcome and that they are loved was very rewarding at the same time. 

This event has yet to relate to any coursework I have had here at Ohio State, but it does relate to some service I did through a refugee-oriented organization back in Louisville. Through this organization called S.C.O.R.E., (Soccer, Commitment, OutReach, and Enrichment), my friends and I would meet at an ESL, (English as a Second Language), school and play soccer with the refugee children. By meeting up with them on a weekly basis and providing snacks and a fun, loving atmosphere, the goal was to help better integrate the children into our society and to make them feel and understand that they are welcome here. In the same way, we were indirectly able to have the same effect on the refugee and migrant children of the Columbus Global Academy. Both of these experiences were great ways to help these kids adapt to the new, harrowing environment that is the United States. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed the CRIS Tree of Hope Project, and it was a very rewarding experience to be able to help the students at Columbus Global Academy in their transition to the United States.