On Trump’s NATO diplomacy

Today I’m writing about another interaction our President has had with international leaders because it seems like drama is created every time.

Trump attended the meeting of NATO Leaders yesterday and critics are having a field day regarding his behavior and mannerisms. He was reported as being very cold and aggressive towards members – and there is a video of Trump shoving the PM of Montenegro. Overall many people are classifying these as extremely embarrassing for the US. I agree with them on that aspect. I understand he is trying to crack down on NATO members but there’s no reason not to still be diplomatic. We still want positive relationships with these countries and the U.S. is currently operating under the assumption that we are too powerful to be made an enemy. I don’t think this is the way to make any political friends though, which is extremely important in our current global climate.
I’m also extremely curious to see how the US’s relationship with Russia and Saudi Arabia plays out. I don’t want to see us giving out exceptions or turning a blind eye to human rights violations. Religious intolerance, oppression of women, girls, and the LGBTQ community, and decriminalizing domestic violence are just some offenses on a long list. I understand the importance of good relationships with such influential countries but I hope we don’t prioritize economics or the military over the rights and lives of people in these countries.
I think that many people do agree with Trump on pressuring other NATO countries to increase their financial contributions. Records show that the US has been disproportionately paying for all of the NATO operations and only 5 countries met the 2% (of gdp) promise. My ICDG group discussed last semester how the US could be using their disproportionate contribution as political leverage. I’m hoping that we will still be able to maintain positive, cooperative relationships with these countries and I’m curious to see where the world will go from here.

On Trump’s visit with the Pope

I was definitely watching when President Trump and his family went to meet Pope Francis yesterday. While there are many interpretations of how the meeting went, there is no doubt that Pope Francis called Trump our on at least one issue: climate change. He gave Trump a copy of ‘Laudato Si” which he wrote about the importance of science and politics in aiding the environment. I was so amused and thoroughly appreciated Pope Francis’s shade.
I know that Trump and the Pope also have extremely different ideas on immigration. Trump obviously wants to implement very strict immigration and border policies to help keep potentially dangerous people or illegal immigrants out of the US. However the Catholic view centers around love for our fellow humans and charity to people in need. There are so many people who are in need of a home, especially in the middle east. The issue is that so many people let fear guide their actions. Fear festers and turns into defense, which isn’t necessarily bad: terrorism is a real threat and being cautious is wise. However, this fear turns into a fear of larger communities, of Muslims, of people of middle eastern descent. People develop fear of immigrants (illegal or otherwise) taking their jobs. Pope Francis has, multiple times, encouraged countries to be understanding and accepting and to operate from a place of compassion and not fear. So obviously this meeting with Trump, who ran his campaign principally on fear, is extremely important. Pope Francis is a leader and an icon for Catholics across the world. Personally, I love the role he has played in rejuvenating the church and communicating to the world the true messages of our faith.
While the Pope did throw some shade, they said that they talked about working towards international peace and I honestly and truly hope so. Maybe at least, Trump will learn a little more about climate change.

Language and Religion

This month I attended a lunch with guest speaker Dr. Muhammad S. Eissa on Language and Religion. Surprisingly, I had never given much thought to the intersections of the two. Dr. Eissa talked about how the Arabic language is so frequently associated with Islam and how that affects non-Muslim Arabic speakers and Muslims who don’t speak Arabic. It was extremely fascinating to analyze. I did not know a lot of the history of the Arabic language or how it has changed and evolved geographically. Dr. Eissa emphasized how the Arabic language helped people connect to Islamic scripture, traditions, and cultures.

My roommate, who is Jewish, also related to that and she is currently studying Hebrew. These were the languages that the scriptures were written (or heard) in and so learning the language helps people connect.

I started thinking about Christianity and the lack of any identifying language. I’m Catholic so Latin is very important historically as masses used to be entirely in Latin. I think Latin is very beautiful, but it wasn’t the original language of Jesus or the disciples; it was adopted because of the influence of the Roman empire on the church. In fact, as time progressed, Latin almost became a barrier between the people and the church teachings. People couldn’t understand what was being said at masses because most people were uneducated. It was finally changes in the 20th century because the Pope wanted people to be able to develop personal relationships with God. I think this is pretty cool though I still love hearing Latin songs or chants at masses.

ICDG: Discussing the Controversial French Election

In my ICDG group, we discussed the French Election after discovering that Marine LePen has made it to the final round. This is so telling of the current political climate in the western world: we are seeing a resurgence of nationalism. Many people think that if she is elected, resulting in France leaving the European Union, that more and more countries would follow and the EU would become obsolete. For me, that prospect is very weird considering it’s all I’ve known or grown up with, but the organization itself is relatively young.

Brexit happened and then Trump and now there is another possibility for another global conservative to take power. One member said that one of the biggest reasons France wants to leave the EU is so that they do not have to follow their border regulations. This is a response to the increase in refugees that are trying to come into various European countries and to the increase in terrorism. France has notably experienced significant terrorist attacks in the last few years so it’s understandable that they have become increasingly protectionist. I’m very concern though because it seems like she is leading her campaign on fear and that can be very destructive for communities.

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Note: Since writing this, Édouard Philippe beat out le Pen for office. I’m very interested in watching how the relationship between France and the US evolves because Philippe has openly criticized Trump.

Arabic Flagship Talent Show

This month I went to the Arabic Flagship Talent Show. I was very much looking forward to it and I had many friends who were studying Arabic that I knew were going to be there.

The dancing by the Belly Dancing Club was absolutely amazing and it was very interesting to see the contrasting styles of the two dances they performed. The first dance used finger cymbals in their dance and involved many girls and the second dance used sticks. They were two different traditional styles of dancing and the girls had amazing performances.

The poetry was also incredible. One of the girls wrote a poem that she read in English, Arabic, and Vietnamese. I was extremely impressed by her words but more by the power that the poem had when it was in other languages. I couldn’t understand any of the words but the rhythm and tone of her speaking really helped communicate the meaning of her poem.

Overall I enjoyed the talent show (and the food was delicious). However, I didn’t realize that the majority of the talent show would be class projects from different Arabic. I don’t speak Arabic and so many of the skits and videos I couldn’t understand. I got to see a lot of my friends in the videos though so I still enjoyed them and some of them were very funny! But since I’m not studying Arabic a lot of things were lost on me. I will probably go again next year though! I had a great time!

Dancing Around the World

Throughout the semester I’ve attended multiple different dancing events from various cultures. It was so wonderful seeing the traditions from different parts of the world.

Cumbia Dance originated in Columbia and spread throughout Latin America. It is a very popular form of dance, especially in the clubs. It has a simple 1-2 rhythm which allows for a variation in the sound. There is traditional sounding Cumbia and then more techno auto-tuned songs. We learned the basic steps as a group and then I got to demonstrate the partner dance with the instructor. He was an excellent lead and pretty much carried me around the room! It was a wonderful experience!

Kizomba is an Angolan Dance done with a partner. It is very slow and sensual. The partners are very close and the movements are very small. It was a little more difficult to pick up after being used to salsa dancing which is faster with larger steps. I got to meet a lot of wonderful new people! Many times during the evening, there would be outbursts in Portuguese. We learned the basic steps and complicated turns and combinations and rotated partners throughout. I danced with new and familiar faces and had a great time!

I went to an Indian Dance event and learned multiple different dances. The men and women were dressed in beautiful traditional Indian clothes. One thing I thought was interesting was that the Indian Dances were more individual or group based and less partner focused. One of the dances also involved sticks and rotating partners. There was a lot of traveling and hand movements that were just as important as the footwork. I had never done any dancing like it Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep finding more opportunities on campus to experience dance in difference cultures.

Sipping and Stories

A while back, I ventured to campus corner to sit and chat with people who had traveled abroad to either Spain or Latin America. I absolutely love Second Wind and its environment, and it was so nice to have a laid back conversation. I’m planning on spending one of my summer abroad in a Spanish speaking country so it was a great opportunity to compare the two.
A girl who had been to Puebla absolutely loved her experience. She raved about the vibrancy of the city. There seems to just be a pulse in the city; it’s a musical city.
Another loved described the very cultured historic cities she traveled to in Spain. She also had great stories of how her host mother kept feeding her food till she almost burst!
My roommate, Joni, had also been to Spain and absolutely loved her experience. She loved the tightness of the cities and how spread out the countrysides were.
Throughout their great (and not so great) stories, I really got a better sense of the differences between Spain and Latin American Countries.
I don’t know yet which I will choose. The more traditional European style trip to Spain would definitely fit my personality more but it’s in my comfort zone. I’ve traveled to El Salvador before and I can attest that the cities are very much alive. I think traveling to Latin America would put me, once again, out of my comfort zone, which could be a good thing for me. I am fascinated with both cultures and I hope to be able to incorporate them into my work, into my art.

International Prom!

Friday night I picked up my best friend, Rachele, from the airport. She flew in to see me from Ohio and was staying with me for the weekend. We got back to my room, pulled out some little black dresses, slapped on some lipstick and headed to the prom- IAC’s International Prom 🙂 We had an absolute blast!!! I introduced her to many of my friends and we also met a bunch of new and really cool people. People were dressed in many different types of outfits- everyone looked stunning. We danced the night away and kicked around balloons. The performances were absolutely beautiful! There was a very talented singer and amazing dancers. Overall, it was a great start to a great weekend with my best friend.

ICDG- Foreign Affairs Discussion

Today, in our Informed Citizens Discussion Group, with so much focus pointed on Trump’s international policies, we discussed the U.S.’s role in foreign affairs. The following is a brief summary of points brought up by our various group members.

Since the very beginning, with the French Revolution, we’ve been debating whether we should get involved and be the “savior” so to speak.

Is it the United States’ responsibility to defend the rest of the world? We have the most powerful military in the world (based on spending) and some think we should be utilizing it for good- as in going in and protecting civilians or wipe out governments that are doing ‘bad things’ so to speak. Besides the glaring political repercussions of this particular statement, many people share the sense of goodwill.  Most of our involvement in other countries though is usually to protect our own interests (i.e. Oil in the Middle East). Many people think it is in our best interest to remain a global superpower militarily and others think we should focus on more important issues within our own country.

Trump has advocated to pull back military support from the UN, which would force other countries to increase their militaries. Currently the U.S. takes on a lot of military responsibility when it comes to protecting other countries and a lot of Americans are wondering if it’s time for other countries to pay their ‘fair share’.

We discussed that while many people think we should cut back, those against reduction argue that the United States has a lot of leverage with other countries with smaller militaries- a relationship that could be (and most likely has been) exploited for the Us’s advantage. Which of course is morally reprehensible but hey.

It will be very interesting to see how his foreign policy plays out (seeing also how he seems to vacillate on almost all of his policies). It was just very interesting to discuss the many different points of view on the issue.

 

Latin Dance Club

I absolutely love dancing. It is so beautiful and poetic and is a really powerful art form. I always love to feel graceful and elegant and so I was so excited to learn OU had a Latin Dancing club. Everyone was so friendly the first day and I realized this was not only a club, but a community. We rotate partners quite frequently so you get to interact with everyone (well- at least all the guys) at least once a class. The moves aren’t that difficult but the combinations are challenging and really fun to learn. I love the music- it’s always so upbeat!
My friend talks about how, while she was in Spain, she would go to clubs and there always be dancing. She was a little embarrassed sometimes when she didn’t know the steps, though people were very understanding. But I want to be able to join in the dance. I love that aspect of Latin culture, where most people know the basic steps of dances. I really wish that here in the U.S. we still had a culture where the majority of people knew certain dances. The last time anything like that was hugely popular was probably the early 1960’s. People still do dance, but if you go to a club now it’s mostly jumping in place. I’ve also joined the swing dancing club where we’ve been learning West Coast Swing and Lindy Hop and we all have a great time! So while partner dancing definitely still exists, it’s harder to find and not as mainstream. Which i think is a shame. I think dancing helps create community- well, that and it’s just a lot of fun!