CRIS Mural Project – Sunday, October 27th, 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM (Extra Service Reflection)

Community Refugee and Immigration Services, or CRIS, is a non-profit organization that aids immigrants and refugees, and eases their transition into the community. Every year, CRIS works with various schools across the Columbus community, providing children with mentors in the area. In addition, CRIS will paint inspirational murals throughout the city schools. This past Sunday, a small group of International Affairs Scholars, including myself, were able to lend a hand in the painting of a mural at a school in Westerville, OH. The initial plan was to be outside painting a mural for everyone to see, but unfortunately, the weather was against us. In only a couple of days notice, a few of my peers were able to design three new murals for some of the interior walls of the building.

When we arrived at the school, we were welcomed by an employee of the school, and offered some free food. After eating, we began to get to work on our murals! It was really a fun program to participate in, as painting is a very therapeutic activity. Working alongside my peers was also a great experience, and quite humorous, as the majority of us are not artsy whatsoever. Although we splashed paint all over the place (yikes!), they could not be more thankful for the work we had done. On two walls, we painted the skeleton of a tree, in which leaves with inspirational messages will be placed. These leaves are meant to be taken by students who may need encouragement throughout the day. On the other wall, a hand was depicted, with an inspirational message from Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

I never have more fun doing service than I do when partnering with CRIS on their murals. It is an event I have come to look forward to every year.  Service is not just a task when I’m with CRIS; it may benefit me more than anyone else that will get to witness the painting. As I had learned prior, these mural events typical bring more joy and less stress into my life. After talking to the employee who was overseeing the project, I quickly realized how much these murals mean to the students in the building. The mural will be meant to help those students who do not necessarily have people fighting in their corner, and if they need hope, they know where to find it. In addition, they are subtly reminded to always be kind to one another, which is indeed a beautiful message for any community to broadcast.

CRIS is definitely an organization that ties in the values of the University, Honors & Scholars, as well as specifically the values of IA. It represents a way to become globally engaged while also giving a helping hand to the community that surrounds you. It allows us to build our leadership skills outside of the classroom. Moving forward, I look forward to working with CRIS again due to enrichment it bring to my life and experience at OSU.

Global Engagement Night – Indigenous People’s Day (Campus Reflection)

Every week, both domestic and international students are invited to gather at the Office of International Affairs, in the Enarson Classroom building, to participate in conversations with varied themes. On October 15th, the topic of discussion was Indigenous People’s day. Although our country only recognizes the national holiday of Columbus Day, many states are beginning to recognize the holiday as Indigenous People’s Day instead. Through this campus-wide event, we learned more than what the textbooks taught us. We learned about the history behind Columbus Day, as well as how a multitude of cultures were impacted and oppressed due to the representation of their people. We learned how these people began to stand up for what they believe in by fighting for their rights and recognition once again.

Global Engagement Night began by doing a quick ice breaker and munching on some snacks. Following, we began our discussion along with a guided powerpoint. We were asked to reflect on our educational systems and our knowledge of Columbus Day. After a quick discussion, we were made aware of how poorly the books recorded what truly happened when the America’s were colonized by Christopher Columbus. When our ancestors landed in this “new” world that was thought to be “uncolonized,” they introduced a number of diseases into the native people’s communities. In addition, they were viewed not as people, but rather as inferiors. Our ancestors treated them with violence and as our inferiors; they quickly became slaves. All of these horrible recollections came as a shock to me. My knowledge of Columbus day prior to last week was pride and hope in finding a new land. I knew that the indigenous and our ancestors did not always get along, but I never realized the reasons why. Our ancestors were taking away their cultures with each step into the “new” world. My minimal knowledge of Columbus Day is not uncommon; in fact, it is the way the date is recorded in the history books that we are taught from. Columbus Day was initially introduced into our culture by the previously oppressed Italian-American communities. They took pride into their history and relation to Christopher Columbus. Although not intended, this pride even further oppressed the Indigenous population. In more recent years, the remaining indigenous groups are fighting for the recognition of their ancestors through replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. Many states have began to recognize this holiday rather than Columbus Day.

I believe this event is especially important to International Affairs because of the lack of education and misguided learning that has been misrepresenting and oppressing a multitude of cultures, all around the world. Overall, I gained a lot from this event. I learned a lot about the Indigenous population that I had never known before, and I have a new found respect for their culture. I think this was overall a great event to increase awareness of this issue in today’s world, and overall aligns with not only the values of Honors & Scholars, but the university as a whole.