On the evening of March 5th, I attended a screening of the 2006 film Man Push Cart. The film’s director Ramin Bahrani was in attendance and presented some of the methods through which he filmed the starkly funded movie and the event met the campus requirement. The movie follows a man who emigrated from Pakistan and now works at a cart in New York City to sell breakfast items. His day is laborious as he struggles to not only make ends meet but find a way of living life in a way that may actually be enjoyed. The movie takes a rare perspective, not turning back to hide the brutality of working minimum wage in a country that you come to with the bare minimum already. In my class on women authors of the U.S., one topic that we tackled was the what life was like entering a new country in hopes of a better life and survival, and how that move brings up obstacles on every side. When considering international workings, it’s significant to consider what assistance may be applied to new immigrants and refugees as they enter a foreign workforce, one where they may be taken advantage of depending upon their familiarity with the rules, and also try to establish a new place for themselves and their families to live.
On February 21st, I got to eat food much better than any dining halls (no offense Scott) and watch so many communities that typically aren’t in the spotlight on campus show off their skills at the Taste of OSU event. The event fulfilled the campus requirements. When a person thinks of OSU there are so many things that come to mind first… football, basketball, the killer quesadillas at the Union, but rarely do we discuss the student groups that celebrate culture and diversity with welcoming energy for students of any background. College already looms within the minds of those who enter as something daunting, and despite being free of the oppressive walls of a high school, the pressure to conform can still hold a heavy spot in the mind of those hoping to just make friends in this new place. Luckily, there are a huge amount of groups that support celebrations of global cultures, providing massive havens for those hoping to feel welcome with their beliefs and also providing resources for those new to such a diverse environment. Taste of OSU allowed a lot of cultural groups to perform, it was really amazing to see how talented my peers are and especially impressive as I knew that some of my friends in the groups had been practicing for months! It’s important to take moments to remind ourselves of the importance of maintaining safe spaces for all members of a society to find a place in, such as those that are made because of the clubs participating in Taste of OSU because they ultimately lead to greater understanding among all members.
January 16th, I spent the evening learning about what life is like attending law school at an ivy league through the event A Day in the Life of A Harvard Law Student. This met the professional development requirement at Hagerty Hall and provided me with a lot of insight into what to expect academically and socially in law school. Law school is never considered as something light, it’s a heavy commitment with lots of intensive work, but the steps to get there aren’t quite as solid as those that I’ve heard to move on to specific graduate schools or medical school. I was surprised to hear how important social aspects are when it comes to law school, but I suppose that it’s truly just the next level of networking from undergraduate. It’s quite exciting to hear the reality of law school once you’re actually there… the fact that people within your class will be senators, judges, possibly even president. The most fascinating thing that I heard at this event was how law school was akin to learning a language as opposed to any other form of material being taught. I love learning languages and while the coursework for the first year of law school is much different than that of a language course, it’s exciting to hear the pacing compared to something that I’m familiarizing myself greatly with throughout my undergraduate years. Beyond the outright education in law school, I’m excited to hear of how it takes something as inaccessible as American law and makes it possible to understand. Law is presented as something to apply to all citizens of a nation, yet the great majority of citizens, even including those within public service, lack a complete understanding of even the most basic laws. I hope that the intensive classes that the speaker described falling asleep in will allow me to gather enough understanding of the law to make strides in either making the multitude of provisions more accessible to citizens outside of the field of law or to allow for it to be applied in such a way so that its inaccessibility doesn’t create pitfalls for citizens.
On January 14th, 2020, I attended A global Engagement Night Event discussing the significance of Street Art around the world. This event met the Campus requirement and was held at the Enarson building. Global engagement nights are fun to go to, not only because they have really great food but because they often discuss cultural aspects that are deeply connected to the lives of everyday citizens and are present across the world. I was particularly excited about the event that I attended in January as the topic was Street Art, something that I’ve been slightly-in-tune with and interested in for quite a while. My personal favorites going in were Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, both very big names in America. Throughout the presentation, I learned about the history within the US as battles raged between government and artists, as well as the significance of the representation that the art provided for places healing from conflict, such as South Africa. In Capetown, the artist Nardstar completes massive and colorful murals of women of color, bringing the group front and center in a beautiful way.
Street Art has been vastly viewed as rebellious since its beginnings, but hearing the personal statements of the artists and the significance that they held for the as a community, I began to question why the governments of many places turn immediately to halting unauthorized street art completely. Street art provides color in struggling communities, representation, and a medium of art accessible to citizens from any class or area of society. While potentially problematic in terms of defacement, street art’s versatility around the world has great potential of being turned from something outright wrong to law enforcement to something more through collaboration between artists and government, even creating potential jobs in the process.
On January 11th, 2020 I attended the IA event: Let’s Taco About Failure in the Sky Lounge, which met the academic requirement. While the International Affairs group is made up of students eager to improve the world around them and accomplish great things, discussing struggles and personal ways that college proves difficult allowed for a conversation that reminded us to still maintain focus upon ourselves and our wellbeing. In just about every English-centric class that I’ve taken, one of the core ideas discussed is that when facing the obstacle of worldly change, the greatest way to ensure success is to work your way outwards. The concept is oftentimes labeled “ikigai,” which describes the ways in which the skills and beliefs that we contain must be brought out and pursued in such a way to influence the world in a way that is needed. I believe that this idea of focusing on self is very important among our scholars’ group going forward, as those many are interested in fields of public service. The overwhelming draw that students on campus feel towards this field is exciting and quite admirable, but it’s also important to recognize the burden that can come with that field, making self-care and awareness the ultimate tool in maintaining functionality within a role. After discussing what it is that we work to overcome and improve in our lives as students, I’m left wondering… how can we influence the rest of this community and campus as a whole to explore and cater to their needs in order to make their personal and professional growth healthier and more enjoyable?
On October 27th, I attended the CRIS Mural Painting event at Fouse Elementary School. This event met the requirements for a service event. At the event, we were paired with students from the elementary and middle school to paint murals and create leaves with inspirational quotes. I had a great time getting to know the student that I painted the mural with and it served as a great reminder of the importance of local involvement. As international affairs students, we often have in mind the goals of creating systemic changes and making broad strokes, but it’s just as important to consider our impact on local communities. Maintaining connections to local groups is essential so that when dealing with matters of international affairs, we’re able to keep in mind how individuals themselves are important and even gain insight as to what the thoughts are of those who will be affected by big-picture decisions but who aren’t directly involved in the decision-making. Even for those who don’t intend to work on an international scale, local engagement provides insight into what is going on within your community that may draw you to get involved somehow, whether politically, socially, or any other way that may push you to be an active citizen.
At the Gateway Film Center on November 12th, I watched the Korean film Parasite, meeting the campus event requirement. The movie told the story of an unemployed family infiltrating practically every aspect of a wealthy family’s life by taking up jobs that the family was hiring. The story explores the drastic separation between the upper and working class, as well as how defined roles of each social class affect the identity of members of a society.
I thought that the movie was incredibly well-done and it reaffirmed for me the belief that regardless of the origins of a film, most major themes are able to transcend language barriers, and audiences can use international films to expand their cultural knowledge of the world and drive forward new curiosity. Within that same idea of the value of viewing international art and film, I’ve heard that the movie is in consideration for nomination at The Oscars in the category of best picture. While this isn’t fully confirmed, it brought me to wonder, why is it that we so rarely see international films nominated in major categories besides those specifically dedicated to international creators? While there is value to the fact that there are categories dedicated to international films, the core associations that reward music and film fall short in recognizing international talent and art outside of America, Canada, and Western Europe. This issue depicts a public lack of appreciation for the diversity that is at our fingertips, but it could even be argued that this norm limits people’s growth in terms of what they are willing to explore.
The night of October 8th, the Office of International Affairs put on a presentation about fashion around the world, incorporating student discussion with the project. I’m personally intrigued by the work that the international affairs office puts on, as they both teach about international ideas and work to engage with the extensive international community of OSU. Looking deeply into the realm of fashion as an international art form brought me to think about the significance of the industry within fashion capitals. While I’m not nearly as in tune with the world of business and economics as many people are within this school, I’ve quite recently come to recognize the economics of a nation as more of a holistic concept involving citizens’ functions inside and outside of work. Through taking an environmental class, I was pushed to think of the ways in which business branches out within a community and this discussion on fashion opened my eyes to what life is like working in a fashion capital. Obviously, not everyone in Paris works as a designer, but when a major component of a nation’s culture and tourism is fashion, it influences the functioning of surrounding business. Because of the economic connection to fashion in cities like Paris and Milan citizens themselves are connected to an international industry as well as a kind of international language to take pride in. Not only was this event a good time to consider an aspect of how nations work specifically to observe the art of each other’s cultures, but I was able to hear what others thought on this topic that I’m largely unfamiliar with. It’s uplifting to see international relations within the scope of others becoming inspired by other cultures’ work and I hope to look for more events along these lines rather than only striving to see those that round up the politics of nations.
On October 3rd, I attended a lecture given by Nushin Arbabzada, entitled: Shakespeare Among the Suicide Bombers. Arbabzada is a playwright, journalist, and scholar who discussed the cultural significance of theater throughout the history of Afghanistan and how it falls within the crossfire of conflict within the country today. Theater and the arts have always served as vehicles to the voices of those in positions without a guaranteed audience from leaders, but what was fascinating to me within this lecture was learning how theater has been used as a bridge built by those in positions of power to their people. I personally view relations between people and those that lead them as something not associated with the arts and culturally significant parts of life, rather I’m drawn to a cut and dry idea of formally brutal interactions between citizens and those that govern them. By this, I suppose I mean to say that it is rare to come face to face with a government working to utilize activities of cultural significance in the name of mutual respect and cooperation with citizens. I feel as though this sentiment may be exhausting to hear as it has certainly begun to echo throughout my sentiments in these entries, but I am once again brought to the realization that I am so very unaware of countries beyond ours, much less the complexities of relationship development and maintenance between the citizens and the governing bodies of nations. Beyond the intriguing dynamic that has been fostered between the citizens and government of Afghanistan through the arts, this connection also allows for a more personal and culturally holistic analysis of how citizens of the nation themselves view the extremist groups that attempt to claim the country as their own. The fact that extremist groups that are considered by the citizens of Afghanistan to act as terror groups, harm the theater community’s presence and act in violence without effort contributed towards connection through cultural tools like theater, indicates a lack in cooperative interaction from the extremist groups.
I attended a presentation on Rwandan Genocide which was categorized as meeting the academic requirement for events. Obviously, genocide is a difficult topic to tackle because it’s emotionally and mentally intimidating, but what’s unexpectedly hard to face about the issue is how rarely genocide is caught in time to prevent mass casualties and pain. Through the lens of international affairs, it seems that a major issue for national and international governing bodies should be to confront major issues such as the unwarranted killing of peoples, but it remains terrifyingly avoidable. We discussed the categories that qualify an event as genocide and how that continues to expand and be more inclusive in order to try and protect a wider range of groups (i.e. LGBTQ+, those of certain genders) yet action is rarely taken against genocides until it is far too late. If there are so many guidelines, how is it that countries tiptoe around the term “genocide” to avoid outright international involvement? The issue is, of course, complicated by boundaries set between nations and their allies, but it greatly concerns me that international governing groups such as the UN have few to no accessible examples of how outside nations step in in these situations. International affairs are significant to me because it indicates that interaction occurs between nations occurring and often carries the connotation that these interactions are educational and used in beneficial ways. This activity served as a reminder of why one of the paths that I look towards as a way out of the undecided label is public service and government work. I want to be involved in some way to the world’s international affairs because major issues like the lack of pushback as genocides take place shouldn’t be something that takes forever to face. There are strategic stalemates than occur in government operations to prevent mass movements (i.e. length of senator terms in the U.S.) but stalemates should never spell out passivity towards human suffering, especially when the perpetrators are aware of the atrocities occurring.