Virtual International Film Series: Nameless Gangster

IA Online Event

April 17th, Zoom Videoconference

On Friday, April 17th the Office of International Affairs brought their International Movie Night series online, encouraging all interested to watch Nameless Gangster and participate in a conversation regarding the movie’s themes and perspectives. After reading about the movie, I had expected a traditional gangster movie with family loyalty, betrayal, and brutish assassinations. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie’s depiction of organized crime in Busan during the 1980’s as it was much more than those three points I had associated with every gangster movie. Viewing organized crime outside of the lens of directors such as Martin Scorsece or Francis Ford Coppola and outside of the traditional western organized crime world provided a unique experience that informed me as well as frightened me. Although I am not explicitly pursuing any coursework in international law, informal economies, or illegal activities, the themes of economic disparity, corruption, and a globalizing world all weave into my focus as an Econ and Public Policy student. Additionally, the movie challenged my implicit assumption that Korean organized crime would somehow be based on another set of values. After learning about a wide range of topics from the movie, such as the development of Korean politics, organized crime in other countries than the United States, and family values, my interest in the overall development of the Koreas in modernity has increased greatly and I believe understanding this geographical region more thoroughly will help to make sense of larger trends of globalization, international economics, and more.

 

International Perspectives on the Coronavirus Pandemic

IA Online Event

April 22nd, Zoom Videoconference

I attended the International Perspectives on the Coronavirus Pandemic Videoconference organized and hosted by members of the International Affairs Leadership Council. The event consisted of students in countries such as France, Germany, Morocco, and China sharing their experiences since the onset of the virus as well as their opinions on the reaction of their individual revolved around the comparison of these reactions and the underlying reasoning supporting these reactions across state, federal, and international levels. For example, a university student from Germany discussed how each individual state within the federal boundaries possesses enough power to dictate to a large degree the response they take to the virus. In contrast, university students from France shared how their government quickly flipped stances, requiring all parts of the country to adhere to their restrictions and social distancing policies, demonstrating how the degree of centralization in a government can determine it’s reaction to a public health crisis such as the Coronavirus pandemic. After hearing the responses and perspectives of multiple students, I contributed my individual perspective as an out-of-state student from Texas. I shared my disappointment and confusion with the fact that Texas is one of the first states to announce “reopening” activities while simultaneously placing last out of all states in testing. I compared the stance my state government has taken with the responses by states such as Ohio, who have approached the emergency with more conservative estimates focusing on data collection, testing allocation, and infection rate trends. Overall, the conversation helped me to remain engaged in the conversation surrounding international entities and the effectiveness their actions, as well as those that they support, can have.

 

Taste of OSU

IA Campus Event

Friday, February 21st, Office of International Affairs

Capping off a week of dreary weather and difficult assignments was one of the best events I have attended at OSU! Taste of OSU is a night of cultural performances on stage, informational exhibits, and food organized by the Office of International Affairs where cultural clubs and organizations throughout campus all contribute their talents towards a night of community! What I loved, beyond the truly staggering amount of food I tried was the fact that families and individuals from the greater Columbus area also took part in the event. Families were bumbling around the Union intermingling with freshman who have only been in the city for a few months, and I think this provided a space for those at OSU and in the Columbus area to come together as a community and enjoy each other’s company and cooking.  What came from this was a heightened sense of community that can make social engagement and activism in areas such as environmental accountability and municipal political discourse amount to meaningful change, something that is the focus of my educational pursuits. After attending this event, I am encouraged to seek out more opportunities like this that promote the sharing of cultural identities and the expansion of taste palettes!

MLK Day of Service

IA Service Event

Monday, January 20th, ALL THAT Program

Along with a group of IA scholars, I participated in OSU’s campus-wide MLK Day of Service event. Before we went out to serve the Hale Black Cultural Center, the campus baptist church, and various choirs and dance groups honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by recollecting his accomplishments and intentions, as well as asserting that meaningful service transcends the immediate activity and facilitates deeper connections within a larger community, which should be the goal of all students and residents of a large community like OSU and a rapidly growing city like Columbus. After the presentation, our group loaded onto a bus and was shuttled to ALL THAT, an after school program for underserved kids in the Columbus area that provides food, tudors, financial guidance, and supplemental academic instruction for children who might otherwise not receive such resources. When we arrived at ALL THAT, we worked to do a deep clean of the basement area. We cleaned surfaces, swept and mopped floors, and organized diffuse materials and resources as well as arranged materials for student and mentor access. These typical cleaning activities, while seemingly mundane, helped to create a much more presentable work and congregation space for the students and mentors utilizing it. The activities we completed comprise the basis of structural change, which is developing intimate and meaningful connections within a community, and because of this event, I was able to re-evaluate my priorities as a college student. As I am surrounded by so much material in economics or international studies classes that possesses large implications and interprets events of extremely large scale, grounding these macro-level phenomena in community-specific action has helped to reinvigorate my commitment to constructing and maintaining sustainable communities.

Let’s Talk About Growth and Failure

IA Academic Event

Saturday, January 11th, Smith-Steeb Sky Lounge

I attended the “Let’s Taco ‘Bout Growth and Failure” put on by IA chair Kerstin Norris and 2nd Year Engagement Chair Aauyshi Chandra in the Sky Lounge of Smith-Steeb. At the event, both organizers detailed their experiences with time management and the perennial struggle involved with comparison in any aspect of college life. They outlined the benefits of being open to new experiences and opportunities, but they cautioned over commitment without a plan as that was a primary source of stress among most people in the room. Additionally, we played a Kahoot! that described common scenarios as well as wellness priorities, where after each question ended we would engage in a conversation about each of our personal experiences and how we approach wellness amidst a busy life. Although this event doesn’t directly relate to International Affairs or other coursework, it helped me to contextualize my mental and physical struggles throughout the week that play into how well I prepare for classes and what grades I earn. It took me out of my self-centered head space and helped me to realize that every individual around me is struggling to balance their life and that I should always keep that in mind when I have the opportunity to help them or even just wave when I pass them in the hallway.

Pay it Forward Service Trip to YWCA

IA Service Event

Saturday, November 16th, YWCA Family Center

Along with a group of about ten other volunteers, I helped to decorate the homeless family center organized and run by the Young Women’s Christian Organization of Columbus. Once there, I worked with the team to organize trees, tinsel, and an amalgamation of every department store Christmas decoration display of the past ten years. Even though the event only lasted about four hours, we were able to learn an incredible amount about both the reality of families who find themselves without a home as well as the people dedicated to providing them with the services they need to survive on a day-to-day basis.  The sentiment is quite trite, but a college campus is one of the most sheltered areas to the reality that a college attempts to educate their students about, and through the Pay it Forward trips I’ve been able to help out on, I’ve realized the importance of leaving my good intentions and notes in my dorm and directly assisting the lives who weren’t given the same opportunities I was to attend college. Some argue that a lot of volunteering rarely stimulates significant change, and that’s true to a degree, but what I learned on this trip is that the only evidence I need that makes even the smallest change meaningful was the smiles of many of the smaller children at the shelter at the sight of Santa and an improvised winter wonderland. Regarding the international relevancy of this trip, I believe the easiest way to move towards fixing a universal issue such as poverty and economic inequality is to find ways to help those suffering from the problem at the local level, and through this service, I am encouraged to continue purposeful action towards addressing this issue, and convincing others that what they do, truly matters.

 

Current Political Situation in Bolivia Presentation and Discussion

IA Academic Event
November 20th, Hagerty Hall 255
     I attended the round table presentation and discussion about the current political situation in Bolivia facilitated by faculty and doctoral candidates from the Center for Latin American Studies.
    The event included three distinct, but interrelated presentations that discussed the events and political context leading up to the transition of power from Evo Morales and his administration to a state of uncertainty and conflict. Each presentation attempted to answer the question of whether or not the event can be considered a coup or a resignation, but the final speaker of the night drew upon the evidence given by each presenter, as well as the legacy of Latin American Politics, to argue that the dichotomy of outcomes presented didn’t address the reality of the events. He argued that the mere fact that opposition forces were operating in the eyes of the media and that two contrasting groups of protestors were able to form indicates that political unrest has come a long way from the atrocious, but hidden atrocities of the 20th century in Latin America.
    This event is important to the topic of international affairs as a whole because it represents a single aspect of the larger web of unrest that exists throughout the world in areas such as Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Hong Kong, and even in neighboring Chile that will propel the state of world affairs into a degree of change in the years to come. Narrowing the scope of the event to the personal level, I was able to exercise my listening comprehension skills in a second language as the entire night was conducted in Spanish, the language I am currently minoring in. The event challenged the doubts I had towards my listening comprehension skills in Spanish as I was able to understand the majority of the ideas and topics being discussed, and it encouraged me to continue exposing myself to not only the language but to topics of discussion that are rarely addressed in the typical American newspaper.

New Wave Realism Conference

IA Academic Event

September 27th, Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 12:00-4:00pm

Through the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, I attended a conference focused around New Wave Realism. Building off of the Cold War, realism is a view of international politics that stresses its competitive and conflictual side, an ideology contrasting to liberalism and idealism. Specifically, this conference aimed to cultivate a new wave of realist thinkers in light of the increasing geopolitical conflicts arising with China, Russia, the U.S, and many other geopolitical entities. This event relates to current international affairs because it informed me about prevailing scholars and their research regarding realism, which has helped me to understand how the international atmosphere has developed to the point we see in the present. After listening to two researchers, as well as the following constructive criticism given by Mershon Center staff, I was still a bit confused as to the central focus of realism. In the future, I’d love to attend another event that goes even further into the meaning of realism in political discourse today, hopefully answering my underlying confusion regarding the tenants of the modern ideology.
The content of the presentations didn’t intersect with my academic goals, but the aspect of conducting research at the collegiate level is one aspect of the conference in which I want to implement into my career in the near future. From the few presentations I watched, I picked up a better idea of the level of complexity and clarity that is reached at the collegiate level of research. Going forward it, the event has encouraged my previous belief in research and I hope to find a way in which to contribute to a conference similar to this one soon!

Party at the Wexner Center for the Arts

IA Social Event
September 28th, 2019, The Wexner Center for the Arts, 8:15-11:15pm
After walking in to the exhibit area, my attention was immediately drawn to multicolored strips lining the walls, all containing a different explicit statement taken from various religious and political manifestos. To bridge the medium into the 21st century, the artist, Jenny Holzer, included an LED word scrawl with explicit expressions more similar to those found on the internet.
Each aspect of the exhibit serves as a testament to the various, biased manners in which we receive our news, and in turn, how we construct our world views. Although there could be a completely separate exhibit highlighting the positive examples of education and the institutions that promote those methods, this exhibit forced me to come to terms with the fact that in international affairs, as well as domestic affairs and almost any human interaction, our outlook towards the unknown and/or different is at least in part guided by inflammatory media that our society has normalized. After that exhibit had informed and challenged my beliefs more than I was expecting, given that I was a college student out on a Friday night, my friend and I completed a full sweep through the gallery, admiring the fused steel pins and glass of Maya Lin’s exhibit, as well as Ann Hamilton’s stacked newspaper gallery. When we finished, we caught word that there was a showing of Thelma and Louise in the Wexner center’s movie theater, so we rushed over and became witnesses to a classic of a movie.
Looking back on this whirlwind of events, I’m so glad that I was able to experience what the Wexner has to offer. Even though the forms of artistic expression I was able to view aren’t avenues I intend on focusing on in my academic career, I was given another example of the diversity of human expression, a reality that does connect to my academic career. In whatever career I pursue, I want to understand, advocate for, and participate in human expression, whatever form it takes.

Columbus Greek Festival

IA Social Event

August 30th, 2019, The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 7:00-10:00pm

Equipped with only an admiration for the Gyro and a faint understanding of the Orthodox church, I arrived at the gates of the Greek festival. Within them, I was able to witness a myriad of different dances, songs, and types of food that I had previously been unaware of, giving me a deeper understanding of Greek culture beyond the parade of stereotypical iconography associated with ancient Greece that is often present in the modern conversation.

Moving away from the dance floor and into the cathedral, I encountered one of the most ornate and breathtaking sights of my life. Adorned with gold mosaic, marble decorations, rainbows of stained glass, and a depiction of Jesus with a slew patriarchs of the Old Testament looking down at me from the inside of the central dome, the place of worship was unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Beforehand, I didn’t have a good understanding of the Schism of 1054 and the ways in which the Orthodox church split from the Catholic church, but with the help of a helpful infographic and an equally helpful church tour guide, my previous questions regarding the church were largely answered.

A common theme in International Affairs, cultural appreciation, constantly ran through my head in and out of the cathedral. This experience showed me the joys of appreciating the previously unknown, as well as reminding me why baklava might be the greatest culinary invention of all time. The event impacted my understanding of the Orthodox church by not only exposing me to the culture of those who make up the congregation but also informing me of the unique beauty and spirituality that can be found in the Orthodox church itself.

Although the event didn’t explicitly align with an academic or professional goal of mine, I gained a deepened appreciation for those who carry on their cultures amidst complete strangers. If a young kid can put on a dance honoring his culture in front of hundreds of strangers, the least I can do is watch. Going forward, this event reinforced in me the goal to simply strive to understand and appreciate those around me.