International Perspectives on the Coronavirus Pandemic

I was unable to attend live, but I viewed the IA International Perspectives on the Coronavirus Pandemic webinar filmed on April 22nd. The webinar included students from around the world, who shared what their personal experiences are within the current climate. Major topics that were covered included shifts in school life not only for the participating students, but for those of different ages within their respective countries and areas, as well as the strictness that their governments’ are holding when it comes to preventative measures. Obviously it would be much better to not be in the situation that we’re in now, but the occasion provides for a lot of innovation. Those who were on the webinar, both students and young professionals, discussed the transferring of their work to online alternatives. One exciting thing that these quarantines provide us with is a time to dedicate towards innovation. I personally work at summer camp every year and we’re looking to still provide campers with ways to interact with new people and learn new skills for an extended period of time rather than just the typical week of camp that we could have. Outside of social innovations, there are more distinctly critical changes occurring within scientific and diplomatic bodies. Hearing about the differences not only in how citizens are dealing with the changes, but how different governments are treating the situation has caused me to think a lot about the place of national and international cooperation within the pandemic. With a pandemic, there’s already the critical task for governments to assess the situation and put in place necessary safety measures, but when something this massive occurs, communication and teamwork are really of the utmost importance. I’m trying to pay extra care to these international interactions because I think it’s a fantastic way of seeing what methods of compromise are used in globally emergent situations. 

Earth Day Webinar

On April 15th, I attended OSU’s (online) celebration of Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary. At the event, multiple speakers came to give presentations and answer questions live from the audience. One of the speakers was Bart Elmore, who discussed the historical significance of Earth Day. According to Dr. Elmore, 20 million people came out in 1970 to celebrate Earth Day and complete acts of service. Just as it was huge in the ’70s, Earth Day and environmentally conscious actions seem to be on the rise again. To hear about the togetherness that this even has been bringing for half a century was really inspiring, particularly as it showed how people connect to the Earth in a healing and human way. The 1970s were a tumultuous time with events echoing what the world experiences today, and yet the outdoors still bring relief and solace. One thing that I love to learn about in any earth sciences class that I take is ecosystem services. These are ways that the environment helps humans that are free. Many people first think of ecosystem services such as providing fresh water, oxygen, etc. which are all of course hugely significant, but we forget that they also provide free aesthetic and recreational value. While sadly, global warming is an issue that is considered partisan, many of the speakers were steadfast in describing the solutions in slowing the effects of climate change as a group effort. One of the major draws towards public service for me, is the appeal at finding ways to get different groups and parties to compromise and work together for what’s truly best for the populations being affected. 

Man Push Cart

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.

Taste of OSU

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.

 

Accruing Debt in the Name of Justice

Langdell Hall, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA

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. 

Expanding Street Art

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. 

Fostering Mindfulness and Ambition

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? 

Mural Painting

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. 

Attending Parasite

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. 

Fashion Around the World

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.