There has been quite a gap since my last post in this one, but I’d like to chalk that up to the eternally busy lifestyle of the college student. Without any further ado:
A month or so ago, I was able to attend a meeting run by Anne Delong to review the requirements for the Global Engagement Fellowship. I’ll be adding these requirements to the main GEF page soon, but here’s a glimpse of how the program works.
Global Engagement Fellows are those students who want to be global citizens, who are prepared to have an influence that extends beyond borders and experiences that transcend a single society. We are given scholarships to study abroad at least twice in our time here at the University of Oklahoma, and to help foster our growth while home, we have to be a member of an international organization and attend at least two international events per semester. In order to make sure we are using these opportunities to grow, we are also asked to maintain a blog — hence this post — recording the experiences we have had while completing these requirements.
Anne started the meeting by introducing herself and having us introduce ourselves to each other. We talked through the requirements again and discussed different study abroad opportunities. The main part of the meeting though was reserved for an upperclassman to tell us about her experience in the GEF program.
She started off telling us about her time in Quito, Ecuador, at which the people have the “Ohio” accent of Spanish. It’s easier to understand than other Spanish speaking countries, and the city is sprawled out between two mountains, which makes for some wonderful landscapes. She told us that going abroad, she gained a really cool appreciation for the way the landscape affects the attitudes of the people who live there. The people of Quito have this way of thinking about their city based on the presence of the mountains, and it made be begin to wonder how my view of the place I live is affected by the surrounding landscapes.
Afterwards, Anne showed us part of this powerful TedTalk entitled “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She spoke of how, growing up, she had this idea of this poor boy her family employed to work in their home, and when they went to visit his home, she was startled to find that there was more to his life and his family than merely being poor. He was a whole person, and somehow, she had missed it. Later, when she went to the United States, other people would treat her based on the single story of Africa they knew. In one of her classes, her subject matter was criticized by her professor for not being “African” enough, in that it did not depict the extreme poverty we so often associate Africa with.
Chimamanda Adichie explained that we must beware of the single story because it clouds our vision from the person behind the stereotype we have.