For my first international event, I went to a lecture entitled “Bagaisu Men Don’t Cry” with Dr. Pamela Khanakwa. For the majority of the lecture, Dr. Khanakwa talked the Imbalu ceremony, which is a public right of passage in Bagisu tradition. Throughout the past few hundred years, the role of the Imbalu ceremony has changed in the Bagisu culture, thus indicating a shift in the greater understanding of masculinity. Ever since the origin of this tradition, it has been greatly celebrated. Anywhere between the ages of 16 and 26, a boy could choose to go through the ceremony. This process happens publicly and is generally a large celebration. Within the past one hundred years, however, Bagisu elites have challenged the cultural norms. They argued that the ritual was “irrelevant to the needs that they had established” and that the tradition aimed to “tribalize people deviating from the minority culture groups within Uganda.” Bagisu society met these concerns with several solutions. The first solution was to introduce the practice of medicated surgery that would occur in private. Many argued that allowing men to have anesthesia during the procedure would defeat the purpose of the ceremony. Another solution was to forbid women and children from watching the public surgery. These solutions were met with opposition.
This was a topic that I had no previous knowledge on. I was not even sure exactly what the topic would be when I arrived at the lecture. I was pleasantly surprised and actually gained a lot of new knowledge. Throughout my time in grade school, lots of what I learned about Africa was from a very Eurocentric perspective. This lecture made me realize that I have never had the opportunity to learn about tribal customs or norms. Everything that I know about Africa is about one of the following topics: colonialism, decolonialism, The Scramble for Africa, or the slave trade. This is very unfortunate. I would like to expand my knowledge about Africa after this lecture. It was interesting to have the opportunity to hear someone from Uganda speak about the issues that face her community.
I attended the “Pastries in Puebla” event on Thursday, September 21st. At the event Armando, the Director of OU in Puebla was there. He talked about his favorite parts of OUP and how many students have great experiences there. It was nice to talk to him after first meeting him while studying in Puebla this past summer. He is a great asset to the OUP program. Armando and I also talked about opportunities to study abroad in Puebla for a full semester. If I did so, I would be required to take geology classes with the OU faculty that goes along. This seems unnecessary and would not count for any of my required credits for my major. Anyways, the event took place in Farzaneh and was lovely. There were pastries and other people interested in traveling to Puebla. I also got to share about my experience in Puebla with some other students who were interested.
This semester, I was part of the International Business Student Association. This group is comprised mostly of people with my same major, International Business. This group has meetings and events to inform its members about international happenings and opportunities, mostly geared towards business. Through this organization, I have been able to talk to fellow IB students and hear about their internships abroad. While I might not have the opportunity to intern abroad during my undergrad experience, it is fascinating to hear others talk about this experience. International internships are a big focus in IBSA. I am looking into possible internship opportunities while I do my semester abroad, thanks to this organization.
In Mexico City this past summer, I got to visit the Museum of Memory and Tolerance. This museum was absolutely fascinating and one of my favorite experiences from Puebla. One of the temporary exhibits, however, has stuck with me in the past few months. The exhibit was about Mexican immigrants to the United States. Clearly, this is a very relevant topic at the moment. The exhibit showed instances of violence against immigrants in the United States, and urged the necessity and impact of compassion. With new administration, the past few months have been difficult for immigrants. This exhibit is in the back of my mind at all times when I see divisive rhetoric or hateful words. This exhibit has stuck with me for the months since I returned from Puebla, and it probably will for the rest of my life. I wish that all of America had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Memory and Tolerance and see this exhibit. It was truly eye-opening and impactful.
I recently watched a movie, in Spanish, called “La Lengua de las Mariposas,” or The Language of the Butterflies. I really enjoyed this movie, so I thought that I would take a moment and reflect on it. The movie focuses on the life of a young boy, Moncho. The boy is living in a particularly challenging time – the Spanish Civil War has just begun. The movie is a coming of age film that focuses on the boy “finding himself” in a difficult time. Moncho has a teacher in school who he builds a relationship with. The teacher has untraditional views and Moncho can pick up on that. The boy is in a challenging place and is wondering about the future of his family and country. The boy is developing his ideas, beliefs, and thoughts as the movie continues. This movie made me think about how the 2016 election affected children. I actually wrote a paper for my Spanish class about this topic. Researching and writing this paper, especially in Spanish, was a breath of fresh air among all of my business coursework. It made me want to take more political, globally-minded courses.
For my first international event, I went to a pasta making class taught by Luccio, OUA’s student service coordinator. Pasta was surprisingly easy to make and I was amazed by how simple the recipe was. Even the ravioli wasn’t too difficult! This past weekend, I went home and made pasta for my mom. This time it was much more difficult than how I had remember ed it in class. Although my pasta pieces were rather misshapen, my mom made a great sauce to go with them. It was a great meal, overall. I enjoyed learning something at OU that I was able to bring back to my home. I will definitely be attending the pasta making class again next year, if I am able!
Today we are heading back to the United States. I have had such an amazing time here in Mexico. I am absolutely amazed with the culture, cuisine, and beauty of this country. Here is a list of some things that I wanted to reflect on as I head home to the United States:
First of all, I highly encourage going on a study abroad trip without any of your friends. I had one acquaintance, Audrey, who I knew was also coming on this trip. We decided to share an apartment and it was such a great opportunity for us to get closer and make close friends with the others in our group.
Mexico has these little stands that they put by your table in restaurants to hold your purse. America needs those.
Always keep a blog while traveling. I totally wish that I had kept up with mine in Italy. Blogging helped me reflect and remember each day that I was abroad.
Don’t be afraid to sound silly when speaking in the language that you are learning. You will improve so quickly when you are trying to speak with people everyday.
True Mexican food is entirely different than what we are used to in the United States. I thought I knew this coming in to the trip, but there is still so many culinary differences that I was unaware of.
There are lots of things that should be on this list that I am forgetting…..
Woo! This was a trip of a lifetime and I am so excited that I got to share and remember it via this blog.
Lastly, check out the Talavera that I painted in Puebla! I think it turned out pretty well!
Today was our last full day in Mexico and boy was it a good one! This morning we went to a Mexican Folklore Ballet. It was unlike anything that I have ever seen before. There were Flamenco dancers, dancers with huge paper mache masks, Mariachi bands, etc. It was so much fun and definitely one of the more “traditional” experiences that I have had while here.
After the show, we went to the museum that was located inside the same building as the theatre (it is called the Palacio de Bellas Artes). They currently have a special exhibit called “Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time.” The exhibit has many works from both of the artists and discussed their stylistic similarities (especially cubism). It was a great and impressive exhibit. The Palacio also had several Diego Riviera murals. How cool is that?!?
After we finished up at the Palacio, we went to the Museum of Memory and Tolerance. This museum was truly spectacular. It was decided up into 2 parts. The first part was designated to help visitors remember the genocides that have occurred in the past. The second part of the tour was designed to encourage and promote tolerance of other cultures, ideas, and people. This museum is a must-see for anyone who finds themselves in Mexico City. I could not recommend it enough.
After the Museum of Tolerance, we had a late lunch at a huge restaurant inside a hotel. It was lovely! I had some tacos and a fruit / cheese salad. My amiga Audrey tried a traditional dish that actually originated in Puebla. It is called Chilis en Nogada and is a stuffed pepper with a special sauce and pomegranate seeds. It was yummy for sure!
After lunch, we were supposed to go to the mall for a couple of hours. Audrey and I decided that we wanted to check out the nearby Museo Jumex, that had a temporary Andy Warhol exhibit. The museum had only 3 galleries and they were all filled with spectacular Warhol works. It was fabulous and I had so much fun strolling through the brightly colored modern art. It was a nice change from the (equally beautiful) European art that I have been staring at all summer.
We stopped by “the Mexican version of Starbucks” for a quick treat before heading back to the hotel for the night. What a great last day here in this beautiful country. Mexico, I love you!!!!
Today was our first day in Mexico City. I love it here! It feels just like any big American city, honestly.
We got up this morning after a beautiful slumber in our nice big hotel beds and headed to breakfast. The place where the OU faculty goes for breakfast (aka it’s free to us) has both traditional Mexican breakfast and more generic American alternatives. Today I opted for the Huevos Rancheros, but tomorrow I’ll definitely be eating pancakes. I’m ready for a good old bowl of cereal and yogurt for breakfast. Not that I don’t love the bean / egg / salsa dishes that are usually served here.
Anyways, after breakfast we drove to the Xochimilco (the city of flowers). This is an area that was once a Mayan civilization. It used to be a city on water, but now it is an area with manmade islands. There are tons of small wooden boats that visitors can rent out. Once you get on the water tons of vendors, also in boats, that try to sell you things including food, drinks, and souvenirs. There are also marriachi bands floating on boats. If you pay them, they will come sing on your boat. It’s pretty cool! In the middle of our boat tour, we stopped at a greenhouse to take a peek. There were tons of beautiful flowers and plants for sale.
After our boat excursion, we headed to the Frida Khalo Museum. The Museum was everything that I imagined. I feel like I have read so much about the Museum throughout all of my Spanish classes, and today I finally got to see it.
We had lunch and I took a brief 2 hour naps. Then, we departed for the El Rey León. It was amazing!! I had seen the musical in London this past summer, but it was more fun in Spanish. It was so special for me to be able to see that again.
Today we left Puebla bright and early to head to Mexico City. We stopped along the way at Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan is an ancient Mesoamerican city that is located about an hour out of Mexico City. While we were there, we got to climb one of the huge pyramid and learn a little about the history of the ancient civilization. Most importantly, I got the most delicious paleta (popsicle with fresh fruit) I’ve had while here. It was so good that I got another one!
We have just arrived in Mexico City and I am so excited to explore. First, a quick rest period before dinner. Today has been exhausting!