We failed Aleppo, and Aleppo is falling.

Aleppo is falling. It has been falling for some time, because the international community has been failing them since 2011, but this week Aleppo is hitting the ground. The few remaining Syrians in Aleppo are posting their final goodbyes, final calls to action, final angry words on media platforms, because they know their time is coming soon. Their internet or their power will go out, or they will by violent forces.

People are killing themselves to avoid the consequences of being confronted by the Syrian army. They are more afraid of being tortured and raped than they are of “burning in hellfire.”

The United Nations calling it “a complete meltdown of humanity,” yet doing nothing to show humanity. I understand the complications of this war, I do. The several different factions fighting against each other, the foreign countries involved. The proxy wars being fought.

Do imperialist nations truly believe that the lives of their own citizens are worth more than the lives of others? That’s what proxy conflict means to me. “We don’t want to directly engage our enemy, because that’s too risky… but let’s attack their interests here.” It’s a petty game, and they don’t care who dies. Special interests don’t die, but people do.

I can’t really organize my thoughts, except to say that I am ashamed. I am ashamed of my country, and I am ashamed of my global community. For turning a blind eye to merciless killing. Just like it did in Bosnia. Just like it did in Rwanda.

We think we are so developed. We feel so high and mighty.

We are not mighty at all. Cowardice consumes us.

That is all I have for today.

One day, may we know peace.

give me strength

Hello friend,

I’m still not sure how to cope with the results of the presidential election. It’s been five weeks now since the unthinkable happened, since the xenophobic, racist, sexist, anti-intellectual was elected to office. I remember writing a post about him some time ago—I need to go look back on it, and revel in the naïveté that was believing in an America that couldn’t possibly elect such a hateful man.

The morning of November 8th, I was exuberant. I got up early to go vote in the election for the first female president of the United States of America, and it was an exhilarating feeling. It was something I was going to tell future generations about. I was there. I was with her. I swear I was high on that feeling all day. Until about 9 pm. When the votes started creeping in. And the states were being called. I held on hope as long as I could, for a good four hours or so. I had been trying to study for a test the next day, but I couldn’t concentrate. I was devastated. I was sitting in my home with my significant other, and all of a sudden I couldn’t take it anymore.

Once the tears started falling, they didn’t stop. They were heavy, and they hurt. I cried myself to sleep.

Sometimes, when something bad happens, I like to go to sleep. Because when I wake up, for a few blissful seconds or minutes I’ll forget about the bad. It’s a way of coping, I suppose. I’ve done it when loved ones have died. For a few seconds… that hurt hasn’t happened yet, because I don’t remember it. Somehow, it makes it easier to accept when I remember the truth.

When I awoke the next day, there was not a millisecond of peace. I woke up knowing. I woke up afraid. For myself, for my loved ones, and for people who I have never met. But I understand their struggle and I stand with them. As someone in the LGBTQ+ community, a Trump presidency terrifies me. Now that a few weeks have passed, I must admit, it hurts less to think about. But I still worry. I worry about my right to love who I want. I worry about my right to my future children, be they biologically mine or not. I worry about the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. I worry about women. I worry about people of color. I worry about non-Christians. I worry. And my heart, is oh so heavy.

The weight that has affixed itself to my chest since the night of November 8th is always there. Some days, it’s easier to carry than others.

My family doesn’t understand. Partially because, my family is privileged. White. Comfortably middle class. Straight. Christian. They don’t understand. And when I try to explain, they don’t want to hear it, and they don’t believe it.

I have tried to explain it to them. When they voted for that man, they voted for their political beliefs. They got to vote for actual political ideologies that they care about—gun rights, immigration reform, conservative fiscal policy, etcetera. When I voted, and when thousands of other people like me voted—it was like we voted for our basic survival. We voted to keep our civil rights, to marry and love who we want. We voted against discrimination, of race and of gender. We voted for love. Support. Diversity.

On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you could say that we voted at a lower level. We voted for moral and basic needs of the human condition. Things like personal safety. Acceptance.

And so, unfortunately, I still don’t know. I know I have to keep fighting. I know in my heart that that man is not fit to lead this country. I can’t believe that in a little over a month he will no longer be the president-elect, but the President himself. Quite frankly, I’m still terrified.

But I’m not going to back down.

Try as he might to undermine what I stand for, as a human being and as a global engagement fellow. I will not stand down.

Festival of Light

Hey, pals!

As I have stated in a previous post, I have had quite a semester. I was enrolled in 16 time-consuming credit hours, and I was also working 30 hours a week at Walmart, which is a pretty exhausting job. I also took two classes and worked full time at Walmart over the summer, so I’ve had a very full plate since May of this year. Why was I working so much, you ask? Well, because I’m going to Austria and I want to be able to travel while I’m there! I didn’t want to have to worry about money at all, so I decided to put myself through a hell of a tough time—but I know it will all be worth it come January 30th. I realized I have strayed from my original point here, but I feel like this is important to know. Hey, it’s my blog, I make the rules!

Anyhow, I have been a busy bee this semester, for the above reasons. As such, I have been able to attend very few OU Cousins events, mostly due to my work schedule. I have attended almost every meeting, but it seems like we always had events while I was scheduled to work or had exams to study for. Thankfully, I FINALLY GOT TO GO TO AN EVENT LAST WEEK!

This OU Cousins event was a short trip (it’s about a 40 minute drive) to Chickasha, where we went to see the annual holiday Festival of Light. I had only ever been once before, and it was beautiful, but this time was even better. It was FAR COLDER—I was freezing—but that meant that there were less visitors, so it was like we had the whole place to ourselves.

I think it’s really funny and cool how we humans are about the weather and temperature. The climate where we grow up is our normal, accepted weather, and anything too far above or below that can cause us a huge amount of discomfort. While some students (International and American) were enjoying the first freezing cold day of Oklahoma winter, others were shivering and shaking. I was one of the shakers—I simply hadn’t dressed properly—but I know that I, and everyone else had a great time regardless.

The Festival of Light is so beautiful. If you’ve never been, and you’re from around here, I highly encourage you to go. Even if you have been before, I encourage you to go again! And bring a friend!

The loveliest part of the park is the bridge over the pond. The canopy is covered in shining white holiday lights, and it is absolutely delightful. We even witnessed a proposal! It could be considered very romantic—I’m sure there are several proposals at that exact spot every year.

Anyway, I was quite over the moon that I finally got to attend an OU Cousins event this semester, and even though I missed some cool events, I think I still got to go to the best one. I’m so glad that my last OU Cousins event until next fall was such a great one.

Endless German Opportunities

Another German event (I know, I know—I need to get out more) that I attended this semester was the German Opportunities Fair on November 16th. They altered this event quite a bit this year and I really enjoyed the improvements—in the past, it involved short individual presentations from various speakers about several of the opportunities for German learning and beyond at OU. This year, it was a much more casual and laidback event where organizations and speakers had booths set up and you could initiate individual conversations.

I think I spent most of my time at about 5 different booths, which sounds like a lot but I was there for the full hour and a half. My first stop was Dr. Schlupp, who told me a little about German research opportunities, and some graduate options in Germany. Even though I feel like I’m not far along enough to be thinking about things like that, it’s always nice to chat with Dr. Schlupp. He’s my best friend’s dad, so I get to see him pretty often, and it’s always rather enjoyable. Sometimes I wish that my family was a bit more like the Schlupp family… For some reason I just get along better at Schlupp family dinners than my own family’s dinners. Maybe it’s just German hospitality?

The next booth I visited because one of my old German instructors was at the helm. She’s earning her Master’s degree in German from OU, and her booth explained the process of obtaining such a degree from our fine institution. I’ll be honest, the more German I learn, the more I want to know, and so that path seems like a bigger option to me every day. However, I’ve still got a long road ahead of me on my current degree, so I’m trying to stay focused and not get too off track!

My next stop was the Leipzig booth. Every summer, select OU German faculty take a small group of German students (about 12 or 15) to Leipzig, Germany for a whirlwind study abroad and language immersion. I’ve heard from many people that the language courses they take while in Leipzig are really intense; people can earn up to six credit hours in just a few short weeks! It’s a trip that is very attractive to students who would like to minor, but may not have the time to go abroad for a whole semester or year. Even though I don’t think I’ll ever go on the OU Faculty-sponsored trip to Leipzig, I really would like to visit. I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity sometime this next semester while I’m in Austria!

After I learned more about Leipzig and picked up a snazzy study abroad pin, I headed toward the internship booth, because heaven knows I need some experience! I learned that there are actually quite a few internships available in Washington D.C. for young speakers of German and Business majors, which is something I would really enjoy doing. This booth was probably the most informative of the night, simply because it involved a lot of information that was completely new to me. I networked with the students who were running the booth, who have both had internships with the state department, and I got an e-mail address of someone who could greatly aid my quest for an internship. All in all, I’d say it was quite successful!

Last, but not least, I visited the Fulbright table. I saved this table for last because I figured I already knew quite a lot about the subject, and while I was right, I still gleaned a lot of information from the booth’s representative and the other students who were checking it out. When I was a Psychology major, I thought that I wanted to apply to do something more research related, but now I’m leaning more toward applying for an English Teaching Assistant position. Honestly, the idea of teaching English used to make me a little anxious, because I was afraid that my German wouldn’t be good enough. Thankfully, even though I’m nowhere near fluent yet, I’m confident in my abilities, and I’m excited for any opportunity to grow.

And thus, that was the final table I visited at the German Opportunities fair. I feel like I gained so much information in such a short time, and I really enjoyed getting to talk to people one-on-one and ask questions I otherwise might not have in front of a large crowd. One of my favorite parts about OU is the German faculty we have here. I truly think they are among the best in the country, and I love the way it always feels like I’m with family while I’m spending time with them.

Greetings from the depths, German idioms, and a new pal…

Greetings, internet! It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a free moment to devote to my sadly empty blog… But its time for a semester’s worth of TLC. I have to be honest, I’ve had a really difficult time these past few months, and I’m really excited to get it all out.  Fortunately, I’ve just finished my last final of the Fall 2016 semester at the University of Oklahoma, and I’ve got a lot to say! Anyway, get ready for a rapid-fire amount of blog posts that have been building up in my muddled brain since August!

The first International Event that I attended this semester was a German one (who could have guessed, right?) and even though I was late, I learned a lot of cool stuff and met some really nice Austrians. The “special Stammtisch” event featured some tasty German snacks, a bit of reunification history, and German idiom trivia. Unfortunately, I only made it on time for the idiom game, but that’s okay because German idioms are AWESOME! Dr. Bob Lemon, esteemed German professor here at OU led the trivia, which made it all the more fun. Anyway, I thought I’d share some German idioms on here!

Because the only thing better than German idioms is German idioms translated into English for non-German speakers.

 

Round Eins: “eine Extrawurst verlangen.”

Translation: To ask for an extra sausage. In English, it means to ask for special treatment. Oh, Germans and their sausage.

 

Round zwei: “da steppt der Bär.”

Translation: The bear dances there. This basically means that something will be a really awesome party. I’ve never partied with bears, but apparently they can boogie hard.

 

Round drei: “ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.”

Translation: I can only understand “Train Station.” The English version of this idiom is “it’s all Greek to me.”

 

Round vier: “Das ist nicht mein Bier.”

Translation: That’s not my beer. This means something along the lines of, “that’s not my problem” or “that’s none of my business.” Because in Germany, beer means business.

 

Round fünf: ”Jetzt haben wir den Salat.”

Translation: Now we have the salad. This is used when something goes wrong, or an accident happens.

 

BONUS ROUND: ”ich denke/ich glaube ich Spinne.”

Translation: I think/believe I spider. In English, it would mean “I think/believe I’m going crazy.”

 

Isn’t the German language amazing? I can’t believe I get to learn a language this awesome. Personally, I think my favorite German idiom is “ich glaube ich Spinne,” because I DO think that I spider.

Another great thing happened while we were wrapping up the Stammtisch, and that was that I started up a conversation with a German instructor who ended up being from Graz, Austria! Sarah is here on a Fulbright Grant to teach German for the year, and she was so friendly and kind and helpful. I told her that I was studying abroad there this spring, and we talked for some time about all of the things I should do while I’m in Graz. I’ll have to be careful, or I won’t have enough time do to everything I want to do while I’m abroad! Anyway, we had a really nice chat and I sincerely hope that the majority of the citizens of Graz are like my new friend!