Study Abroad

i. Where do you want to go?
Choosing where to go for my two trips abroad will be rather difficult, because there are so many options! However, my plan as of right now (keep in mind, it is incredibly likely that this will change!) is to go on the Journey to Africa: Tanzania trip this summer (’15) and then in the spring semester of my Junior year attend the University of Chemnitz in Germany. I have been told there is a special program for Psychology majors there through OU, and if I am still majoring in Psychology by then I think it would be a great opportunity.
ii. Why do you want to go there?
I plan to go on the Journey to Tanzania because I have always been fascinated with the continent of Africa. I have had family members travel through Africa and a very good friend of mine goes on a mission trip every year, and they have all convinced me that I would love it. The huge diversity of land, animals, languages, and culture is something that I would really like to experience, and I know that it will be very different from what I am comfortable with in the US. The Journey program seems like a great way to start the process, because we will be traveling to various cities, living with host families, and experiencing the nature of Tanzania. I am especially excited about the nature component!
I want to go to Germany for a few different reasons. First, my dad spent two years in Germany when he was in the military and he loved it, and I have always wanted to go with him. If I went to school in Germany, he would get the opportunity to come visit me and we could travel to his favorite places. Another reason I would like to go to Germany is because one of my best friends is from Hamburg, and she really wants me to visit her home country so that I might learn to love and appreciate it as much as she does. I actually plan on visiting her in Hamburg in the summer of ’16 so that I can get to know the country before I study there!
The third reason for wanting to study in Germany is because of the Psychology program offered through OU. The study of Psychology is deeply rooted in German history, and the Technical University of Chemnitz is one of the top 5 universities in Germany. Even if I can’t get in to Chemnitz, then I’m sure I will find someplace else to study in Germany.
iii. What do you hope to study?
The courses offered in Tanzania focus on social issues. Specifically, Professor Jeannette Davidson will teach a class called Social Welfare Issues in Tanzania, and Professor Ann Riley will teach Social Justice Work in Tanzania. Professor Riley attended the Journey program launch party and spoke a little about her topic, which she seemed to be really passionate about. Seeing as social issues are within my general field of study, I believe I will enjoy both of the classes and even more so because we will be learning about them while we are in the country we are learning about so we can witness things firsthand.
In Germany I will be able to take classes that go toward my major or regular Gen Eds, as well as the German Language. Hopefully I will be proficient in German so that I can take classes in the language, but many universities including Chemnitz offer an array of classes in English so I will also have that option. I will most likely take Psychology and German courses, but I would also like to take a class that is not within my field, like German History or something of the like.
iv. What do you plan to do outside of class to become more culturally immersed?
Outside of class, I would like to attend traditional cultural festivities and events so that I may better immerse myself in my host countries. In Tanzania, I’d like to see traditional dances as well as listen to music. I also plan on spending my free time exploring my host cities on foot and talking with locals. Hopefully, this will also help me to better learn the languages!
v. Have any of these plans changed from when you first applied to OU? If so, how and why?
My plans have definitely changed from when I first applied to OU, because when I first applied I had no idea where I wanted to study abroad, and I’m still not 100% sure, but at least now I have some sort of plan! 🙂

Reflection IV

I wrote this reflection after an in-class activity which involved separating the class into a large group and a small group, with the large group being representatives of a new country that had never had any contact with Americans before. The small group acted as “ambassadors” to come communicate and get to know the foreign community’s customs. The culture of the large group was strange, and involved only two phrases, which were “no no,” and “yes yes.” There were a few limitations for communication, and they were all pretty tricky. First, people from the large group were only allowed to talk to an ambassador if they were addressed directly. Second, the ambassador had to be wearing the same sleeve length as the person they were addressing in order to be answered. Third, the way the ambassador asked their question determined the answer that they would receive. If the question was asked with any sort of negative emotion in their face, the answer would automatically be “no no.” If it were asked with a smile and positive emotion, the answer would automatically be “yes yes.” The goal of the ambassadors was to learn as much as they could about the large group, but they failed to discern any of the rules.

Although last Thursday’s activity was very entertaining for myself and the class, I noticed that the four volunteers who came into the class as ambassadors from the US grew frustrated from the game when they could not figure out the rules of our mini-society. Even while trying not to giggle at the futility of their efforts, I found that I was disappointed every time they asked a question that was unhelpful in their search for understanding. I believe that such a reaction is natural, because as humans we communicate and socialize for the sole purpose of understanding and getting to know each other, but when someone doesn’t understand, one of our first reactions is to become annoyed. This realization will certainly change the way I interact with people throughout the world. Now that I have witnessed firsthand what my interaction with foreign citizens may be like the initial few instances I travel abroad, I know that I will need to keep calm and stay positive in any given social environment. If I became irritated in a situation abroad, that reaction would only make the situation worse and irritate those around me as well.
From last week’s class activities I have learned to approach each new situation with an open mind and creative thinking. I will not be afraid to reach out to people as long as I have a positive end goal in mind, and I will never give up on trying to understand a person or culture nor will I get frustrated if things just don’t make sense. I will embrace the cultures that I come across so that I might get the most out of the experience and expand myself as a global citizen. The ambassador activity also showed the importance of collaboration between groups, of exchanging ideas and letting thoughts bounce off of others so that a mutual understanding can be met. Interacting with likeminded people proved to be a great problem solving strategy, and even though the volunteer ambassadors didn’t come close to solving the activities rules, they would have been even worse off had they been alone. Thus, last week’s activities changed the way I will think and act in any given situation at home or abroad in a positive way.

About Me.

Hello, internet! I just thought I’d share a little bit more about myself. My name is Clancy and I am from the great state of Oklahoma! I have lived here all my life and I truly believe that some of the kindest and most caring people live right here in my hometown.
I am incredibly socially awkward until I get comfortable around people, but after that it’s pretty hard for me to stop talking. Also, I love bad puns. Like, really really bad puns. I love to read, though I often complain about how I never have time to read between all of the homework and studying and, let’s be honest, Netflix binges of college. I really enjoy getting to know people and hearing their stories, but I am definitely an introvert and need my alone time to recharge the battery. I like to spend my alone time not necessarily alone, but with my pets. I have in my household one beautiful feline specimen who claimed me as her own one day when she wandered up as a kitten on to my back porch and refused to ever let me go. Due to my highly indecisive nature, she is a cat with many nicknames, but not one true name, and I usually just call her “little kitty”. We have one other cat named Daphne, and she is lovely some days, but other days acts as the spawn of evil. I have two dogs, a brittany spaniel named Tyson (I often fondly refer to him as “T-Dog”), and a fine older dachshund gentleman named Boomer (SOONER!). One of my favorite activities is walking out in the woods behind my house with Tyson, who likes to pretend like he is a champion hunting dog. My pets are an integral part of my life.
I have a twin brother named Chance, and he is a pretty cool dude. He’s about a foot and a half taller than me and can grow a full beard in about 30 minutes, and only one of those statements is an exaggeration. When we were younger, there were days when we were the best of friends and the next day we would sworn enemies, but I feel like most sibling relationships are like that. He and I are really similar, and I’m grateful that I got to grow up with such a great guy. What can I say, the kid’s like a brother to me. Both of my parents are remarried and there is a whole mess of half- and step-siblings, so I’ll spare you the rest of the lovely details.
When I first started the college adventure, my major was undecided in the pre-med track. Ever since I came out mildly intelligent, most of the adults in my family pushed for me to be a doctor. Thankfully, I’m a rebel, and thought that there were better ways in which my talents could help people, so I changed my major to Psychology. If it were possible, I would love to get a degree in technical theatre as a Stage Manager, because that was my heart and soul in high school, but the show must go on.
I applied for the Global Engagement Fellowship because I knew that I wanted to study abroad in college. One of the main reasons why OU was on my list was for the study abroad opportunities it presented, and acceptance into the GEF program solidified my choice. By the end of my undergrad I hope to achieve a level of global citizenship as opposed to just a citizen of the US or Oklahoma. I want to be able to feel a connection to the entire world, not just the land where I was born.
That’s about all I have for now, but rest assured I will continue to document my journey as a GEF by posting again soon!!

Reflection III

The perspectives that we discussed this week in my Becoming Globally Engaged class concerning the United States were not all completely surprising to me, but did help to expand my perspective on the world and the thoughts of others around me. From the tips we were given I have learned some very pertinent information that will be especially helpful in my travels abroad.
The thing that stood out most to me was the fact that, because I have grown up in the US and am accustomed to the norms of our culture, I tend to think that the US is the standard of the spectrum for all things in a wide range of topics, from public displays of affection to individualistic versus collectivist societies. As we learned on Tuesday, although I and the other global fellows may be a bit more globally knowledgeable than the average American on the street, we are still quite limited in our understanding of the world and the cultures of other countries and regions. My very thoughts and ideas are heavily influenced simply by the fact that I am a US citizen who carries American values and customs. Although I will never be able to completely lose all of the oddities of my American origin, I will strive to honor and respect the cultural differences and norms that I encounter in my travels abroad.
I also learned that before I travel to a foreign land, I should intensively study the culture and social rules of my host country so that I do not unknowingly offend any foreign citizens. This week helped me learn to be a more empathetic person in general, because all people that I meet in life, whether at home or abroad, will have come from varying backgrounds, and from now on I am going to be a more thoughtful and understanding person so that I may truly make a good impact on the globe.

Reflection II

Some international groups I am most interested in becoming involved with are OU Cousins, the Language Exchange Program offered by CESL, International Student Volunteers, and Sooners Without Borders. These groups have caught my attention because I feel like I will be able to make friends from around the world and become a more global citizen by helping the world community.
I am looking forward to being an OU Cousin because I feel like an international friend could teach me a lot about their world and alter my perspective, which is distressingly narrow compared to what it will be after my career at OU. Being paired with an OU Cousin as well as another foreign student through CESL, I will also feel honored and compelled to share the rich community that is my hometown. Far away from the places and faces familiar to them, my international buddies will be welcomed into my home and social sphere to learn more about what life is like in America and Oklahoma, and I will be thrilled to learn about their lives and culture in their respective countries.
International Student Volunteers and Sooners Without Borders are two groups that volunteer abroad to help people and nature through service projects, such as developing solar irrigation in El Salvador and building schools for underprivileged children in parts of Africa. Service to my fellow man is something I feel passionate about, and those two groups will help me achieve my goal of leaving the world in a better state than when I found it. While I am abroad with these groups, I will be able to expand my knowledge of the world and spread a positive influence for my University and America in general by being thoughtful and courteous in my interactions with locals. While doing service abroad, I will have the chance to make new friends with similar interests in global engagement and experience a multitude of networking opportunities, which could provide leverage and help later in my international career.
There are so many groups and opportunities at OU, I know I will be able to find exactly what I’m looking for in college and in being abroad. It is also very likely that within the next few months or years I will discover a new group or opportunity that I don’t even know exists yet, but wherever it may be, it will surely change my life for good.

Reflection I

I think that that most valuable thing one person can give to another is knowledge, and the best way to spread knowledge is through story. I have said this before, and I am sure I will say it again.
I am fascinated with people, and believe the greatest way to get to know someone is to listen to what they have to say about their world. As a young American, I know that my story is drastically different from many others, and especially fluctuates from countries and continents I have never visited. Because of this, I believe that the range and variety of people I have met and stories I have learned has been quite narrow.
Although my understanding of others is deep, I have only had a limited number of interactions, because they have mostly been shared with people from America, and especially Oklahoma. Also as a young American, I am constantly subjected to the American media, no matter how misleading or false it may be. Media does not show the true stories of places and their people, but rather what the collective agency thinks will sell to the public. Thus, I know I have been shown the world through a very distorted window.
With my global engagement experiences I hope to learn to see the world as clearly as I can, viewing everything as it truly exists without any misconceptions or prejudices. I also hope to change the minds of those who view the United States in a negative light, for they have also been prey to images and ideas expressed by the media of their respective countries. Such a desire will not come easily, because the task of changing someone’s mind is a tough challenge, but with compassion and determination for the human race I know I will be able to make an impact on the worldview of peoples from around the world. By making connections and expanding my own knowledge, I intend to hear and to tell the true story of the world.

“Nostalgia For the Light”

I recently attended an international event at Meacham Auditorium in the Student Union at OU. The event was a screening of the film “Nostalgia For the Light,” byu Patricio Guzman.
The film is set in the Atacama desert of Chile, and the location is important to the film for two vastly different reasons. The first portion of the film focuses on how the desert itself has the clearest sky in the world, so astronomers gather to view the stars and collect data about the universe. Thinking about the vastness of the universe tends to overwhelm me with anxiety, but also makes me want to become an astronaut so that I can explore the unknown.
The second portion of the film was on a darker and sad subject, and concerns the lost bodies of political prisoners from the Chilean military coup of 1973. The Atacama desert has the clearest sky due in part to the fact that it is also the driest place on earth, and a group of women believes that the bodies of their lost loved ones are buried somewhere in the desert. For the past 25 years they have been searching for their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons, with little success. The stories of the women were touching and sad, especially when taking into consideration the vastness of the desert. It is likely that they will never find the remains of their loved ones, yet they have vowed to continue the search until their deaths, if they must.
The film mixes a light yet deep ton for the reaches of outer space with a tragic and thoughtful attitude for the stories of several Chilean women, and gave me a very new perspective of the world.

First Blog Post!

Hello and welcome to my global engagement blog! This is the nifty area where I will be posting all manner of tales and musings from my journey towards becoming a more global citizen. I have been given a wonderful opportunity by the University of Oklahoma and its College of International Studies to widen my perspective of the world and I plan to make full use of this good fortune. The scholarship awarded to me will allow me to travel and study abroad at least twice in my academic undergrad career at OU, as well as participate in international events and spread to others the immense knowledge I will gain along my journey.
As a freshman at OU, I am currently undecided in my major, but I know that I want a career working with and helping people. I feel as if I have a natural ability to make connections with people, and something that I want to do with my life is make people feel special. I find that I am at my happiest when I am making others happy. I really love psychology, and I may decide to pursue such a major, but I want to play the field a little bit and get a better feel for what my options are before I make a definitive decision.
My first opportunity for studying abroad is coming up this summer, and I am currently thinking about the Journey to Tanzania program. Recently a new opportunity arose that could mean a trip to Mexico and Brazil this summer reserved specifically for Global Engagement Fellows (GEFs for short), and I am also strongly considering that option. The possibilities are truly endless at the University of Oklahoma, and I am so excited for my journey to begin!