Monthly Archives: April 2016

Global Engagement Day: Minority Abroad Panel

I was excited and interested in going to this panel discussion, because as a Black female my family is concerned about where I will go abroad. They ask me a lot of questions that I can’t possibly answer. “Will you be safe in this country?” “Will you be targeted more or less because you are a Black woman?” “Are you going to be the only person of color in this country?”

Sometimes its overwhelming. I’m already nervous about traveling abroad, and them asking me questions that I can’t answer honestly (since I’ve never been abroad) makes me even more nervous. Because I hate having to think about my race and gender as a potential handicap. I don’t want it to dictate where I get to study abroad, what I get to do, and whether I get to go at all. Its not fair. I hate that my identity as an African American woman (a very obvious identity, unlike religion or sexual orientation) could be sort of crippling. I’m always going to be worried that I’ll have an experience similar to my cousin, who went to Germany to live with a host family, who assumed she was a criminal because she was black and refused to have her in their home. But, as hard as it is for some people to believe, that’s a reality that I have to factor into my destination.

I am aware that its very plausible that I could go somewhere and be mistreated because they “don’t like” Black people, or where Black women are fetishized. So going to this panel excited me. It was an interesting Q and A, but no one was able to truly and accurately answer any questions I had. I hate to seem like I’m complaining, but I can’t ignore the facts. Of all the minorities that people don’t want in their country, Black people are the most feared and detested worldwide (Middle Eastern people are the closest second). There were no African Americans on the panel, which I know may have something to with there not being enough African Americans who have travelled abroad, or none that were available.

The panel was pretty diverse though. There were two ethnic minorities represented by the panel, one girl who represented marked sexual orientations, and one girl who was unmarked in every way in the West, but became the minority when she travelled to Africa.

Some of the questions that my family and that I have, I know can only be answered by finding someone in the African American community who has studied abroad. And I know that some questions can only be answered by me going abroad and having my own experiences. I’m still very excited about going to France in summer of 2017, but I’m definitely still apprehensive. Honestly, I just want to be able to go abroad and have a meaningful, educational experience. Everything else, will be the best that I can make it.

My International Group: IAC, Eve of Nations

My international group is the International Advisory Committee. I chose the IAC because they are sort of the umbrella organization for all of the international groups on campus. I like that I can be a part of a group that brings together all these other groups. The best part is that the college campus is like a microcosmic representation of the world. I knew that intellectually, but it was so cool to see proof of it with my own eyes during the Eve of Nations.

The Eve of Nations was so amazing. There was a cool fashion show where people showcased outfits (both traditional and modern) and dance moves. It was fun to see that everyone was having fun and that even though it was a dinner and some important people in the College of International Studies were there, everyone was enjoying themselves.

There were way more international student groups than I thought there were. I am a core volunteer in the IAC, but I hadn’t been able to help practice because of the bus schedule and a family thing. Hopefully I can still get involved next semester, when I’ll have more freedom in my schedule and in my mobility. If the IAC  is all about stuff like the Eve of Nations, then I can’t wait to get more involved.

*The pictures below are scattered oddly, I couldn’t fix the alignment no matter how hard I tried. Sorry it’s all so ugly.

Venezuelan Student Association
Venezuelan Student Association
Angolan Student Association
Angolan Student Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Student Association
Chinese Student Association
Nigerian Student Association

 

 

 

 

 

Malaysian Student Association
Malaysian Student Association

Brussels Terrorist Attack

The weirdest thing happened the day of the terrorist attack in Brussels.

In my French class, we learn about different francophone countries for homework. The day before the Brussels metro and airport was bombed, we learned about Belgium for homework. It was just a very strange coincidence.

To summarize the events of that day: Brussels, Belgium was attacked this year on March 22. A series of explosions went off in the Maelbeek subway system near the European Parliament, killing 20 people. The Zaventem airport was also attacked, resulting in 11 deaths. The Brussels government shut down all transportation after the explosions went off, because it was the modes of transportation that were being targeted, so everyone had to stay exactly where they were (school, work, home, etc) until they were cleared to leave. There were also substantial numbers of people injured. The next day, it was discovered that Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui, brothers and Brussels nationals, were responsible.

It’s a sad thing. Not only that people were killed that day, but that the bombers felt the need to turn on their fellow countrymen. It’s an interesting (and sometimes tragic) thing, finding out what motivates people. For some it’s religion and ideology, for some it’s nationalism, for some its race or gender. Why do our loyalties to these aspects of our personhood have to affect how we treat our neighbors and fellow human beings in such drastic ways? Why can’t we just be content to celebrate and appreciate each others differences? Why do zealots and extremists have to resort to these horrifying actions, especially when they are clearly counterproductive?

I don’t even mean just ISIS and they’re terrorist agenda. Everyone. After all, our politicians reactions left a lot to be desired. The presidential candidates from the Republican party scrambled to politicize this tragic event, and use it as a platform to support their xenophobic policies. I just hate that ISIS claims they are “uniting people under Islam” but all they do with these attacks is further divide the population and turn already bigoted peoples’ hearts even colder. Not to mention, attacks like this make it difficult for Muslim people all over world. Syrians refugees couldn’t even get sanctuary before this occurred, how much harder will it be for them now?

If ISIS was truly an Islamic organization, they would be trying to improve the lives of the 1.6 billion people all over the world who share their faith, instead of making their lives even more difficult. But they aren’t an Islamic organization, they exist purely to terrorize. And our politicians are no better. We can’t talk about “uniting the American people” (ahem, Trump) if all we talk about is refusing people who believe in a different god and deporting those who already live here. In what way is that a “united” America?

We have to do better, and be able to recognize chaos for what it is, no matter what it calls itself.  I really hope the people of Brussels are on their way to a recovery, and that they are able to truly unite in the wake of this tragedy. And I really hope that the rest of the world can see these attacks as the work of two individuals who had no regard for others, and that we can succeed where they have failed, and continue to care about our neighbors.