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Third time’s the charm

It is now my senior year at Juniata, and for the third time, I traveled to Quebec during fall break (October 11th to the 14th). Unlike previous years, this trip was something that I especially looking forward to for several reasons:

Fall break this year came about 2 days after the Fulbright program’s deadline. The application process was very challenging, and by far, it has been the most difficult application that I have written. I applied for a linguistics research Fulbright in Cote d’Ivoire, a project that stemmed from my internship in Strasbourg, France in the Spring of 2018. I worked diligently with a cadre of faculty members who pushed me to craft a competitive and compelling research project. The process got overwhelming and intense at times, so after the Oct. 9th deadline, I was excited to travel to Quebec and celebrate, alongside another Fulbright applicant and a friend of mine, Annaleigh Baremore.

Annaleigh and I are French club officers and worked together to plan this trip, despite meeting many obstacles. First, the Quebec trip did not occur during the previous year when Annaleigh and I were abroad. Professor Henderson who is head of the French department and also the club’s advisor was away on sabbatical. As seniors, Annaleigh and I wanted to bring this trip back, and travel to Quebec one last time. Another issue that we encountered was the high cost of transport, which almost canceled the trip. However, at the very last minute, the Office of Student of Activities gave us a minivan and two vehicles to go to Canada!

Posing for a group photo!
Posing for a group photo!

This 3rd trip to Canada was in my opinion the best because we had a diverse cadre of students. The trips were previously dominated by French speakers, but this time we had students who spoke Spanish, Korean, German and Hindi. I was happy to see them participating and learning about francophone cultures. They all tried poutine, maple syrups, all specialty of Canada. In addition, because we all shared various backgrounds, we tried other cultural foods: we went to a Korean restaurant in Montreal called Kantapia and drank some bubble tea at Chai. Once in Quebec City, we had dinner at a Cambodian restaurant and tried a delicious tapioca desert!

Although the experience was tiring, given that we had a 12hours ride back to campus, I would do it once again if could. As it is my last year at Juniata, I will be looking at various memories such as this trip to smile back on.

From the DNC to the Inauguration: The Benefits of Participating in Experiential Learning

 

Figure 1: Dabbing with Abraham Lincoln
Figure 1: Dabbing with Abraham Lincoln

After the Democratic National Convention (DNC) last summer, my latest experiential learning was the Presidential Inauguration program with the Washington Center (TWC) along with 10 other Juniata students. The two-week seminar started on January 8th, and I had the privilege to learn from experts in various political fields from economists, environmentalists, historians, journalists to lobbyists. For instance, if it were not for this seminar, I would not have been exposed to dynamic speakers like Eric Dyson and Greg Carr who represented the perspective of Black people on the potential outcomes of Trump’s presidency. This was very important to me because, as a liberal arts college located in rural Huntingdon, P.A., and a predominantly white school, Juniata College has only a few People of Color in its faculty body.

Figure 2: Dr. Carr and I after his discussion
Figure 2: Dr. Carr and I after his discussion

I have been living close to D.C. in Germantown, M.D., for 9 years. However, I had never fully known the District until the inauguration program. I was able to see the amount of power in D.C. I enjoyed the D.C. bus tour and learning about the District’s history. Visiting the both the Holocaust and New African American Museum was a worthwhile experience, which made me humble to have such amazing opportunities available to me. Just like the DNC, the seminar was a great career opportunity to network. I was invited to an alumni reception at the French Embassy, and I met four dynamic students from Science Po (Institute of Political Studies) in Strasbourg, France, currently studying at Georgetown University! Did I mention that I was very excited to interact with them because I too will be living and interning in Strasbourg next year? Not to mention that I made sure to get them all tickets to the inauguration itself. Indeed, this is a connection that I look forward to develop.

Figure 3: Amanda Wagner and I doing a jump shot at the Tidal Basin after visiting the Lincoln Memorial. Photo Credit: Jackson Hoch
Figure 3: Amanda Wagner and I doing a jump shot at the Tidal Basin after visiting the Lincoln Memorial. Photo Credit: Jackson Hoch

Living in the Nation’s capital allowed me to visit my senators and representatives and interact with them as well. Our small group discussions also put me in close contact with my fellow Juniatians hailing from conservative backgrounds, whose voices often gets lost in this predominant liberal institution. During the weekend, our group also got together to attend two very different but equally formidable theater productions: Capital Steps and Confucius—the latter was my favorite because it was produced and choreographed by the 77th direct descendant of Confucius, Kong Dexin, and was visually breathtaking. By far, the craziest part of my experience was meeting Malia Obama at the club on my birthday night! Although I did not get a picture with her, seeing her was the best birthday gift.

Ubuntu Presents: I Am African, but I don’t Speak African

Saturday Nov. 12th marked my most memorable day of the semester at Juniata. The Ubuntu African club held a cultural event that featured a fashion show demonstrating traditional attires, music and dance from various regions of Africa. I was very proud to have been part of this event called “I Am African, but I don’t Speak African,” because we wanted to educate the public about Africa’s ethnic diversity.

Figure 1: Ubuntu Club Members in Traditional African Attires: (from left to right): Melat Solomon, Ruhama Almaw, Kisest Birru, Anne-Marcelle (Me), Sayida Rabiou-Yari, Zoe Michael, Theresa Perry, Hephzibah Joshua, Taha Barkaoui, Joycelyn Radeny & Stephanie Njeru
Figure 1: Ubuntu Club Members in Traditional African Attires: (from left to right): Melat Solomon, Ruhama Almaw, Kisest Birru, Anne-Marcelle (Me), Sayida Rabiou-Yari, Zoe Michael, Theresa Perry, Hephzibah Joshua, Taha Barkaoui, Joycelyn Radeny & Stephanie Njeru

The planning of this event started a month ago when my fellow club members met at the Unity House to discuss our ideas for the semester. Although the Ubuntu club was known for dancing at various events, including the multicultural fest and the dance ensemble fall recital, we wanted a platform of our own. As such, we chose a date, booked the venue, created posters and reached out to professors and peers to spread the word. In addition to dancing, we had other members show their hidden talents through poetry, modeling and singing. I was mostly involved with reserving the venue and choreographing dances to popular Afro beats songs like “Bank Alert” by P-Square, “Tiguidi” by Tour de Guarde, and “Shake Body” by Skales. My favorite moment of the event when a kid named Jillian bravely came to dance with us. He was amazing, full of energy and quickly picked up our dance moves.

Figure 2: Joycelyn, Hephzibah and I dancing with Jillian, and other audience members joined us.
Figure 2: Joycelyn, Hephzibah and I dancing with Jillian, and other audience members joined us.

The event would not have been successful without our combined efforts, which is what the name of club reflects. Ubuntu is a Swahili word, meaning “togetherness”. We had Stephanie as the master of ceremonies, and she made sure that the show ran smoothly! Other club members helped make the event successful, including the club’s president, Hephzibah, from Nigeria, the club’s event coordinator, Joycelyn from Kenya, Sayida, from Niger, Taha from Tunisia, Melat, Kisest and Ruhama Ethiopia, Zoe, from New York, and Theresa from Maryland. In total, five African countries were represented that night: Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Tunisia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria; and seven ethnic languages: Swahili, Gouro, Baoule, Haoussa, Tunisian Arabic, Amharic and Igbo. Our message was clear: Africa is not a country but a continent, and its diversity goes deeper than country borders drawn on the map. These borders do not necessarily represent or isolate the different ethnic groups, which number in the thousands.

Our event had a great turnout, and I was very happy to see our peers and professors celebrating our cultures. This was very important to us because it encouraged us to put plans into motion for our bigger event in the spring, where we will have authentic African dishes from various parts of the continent.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Nahui Twomey

Global Village: Le Village Francophone Rocks!

One of the most exciting aspect of my second year at Juniata has been my involvement with the global village (GV), particularly the Francophone Village as its programming coordinator. The global village is a learning and living community centered around language and intercultural learning. It is made up of Intercultural Floor, El Rincón Hispánico, Haus Wanderlust, Le Village Francophone and the Chinese Village. The language houses formerly used to be off campus with their own individual buildings. This year however, the GV has been relocated into the Tussey and Terrace (TnT) dorm, and the lounge has been renovated and turned into the global commons with a dining room added! Some language houses have changed their named, including the Francophone Village (previously known as le Village Français). The name change was initiated by the residents and me to make the village more inclusive as most of us were French speakers but not French.

Figure 1I (on the far right) and my fellow French speakers at the Francophone Village open house: Perrine Lesage, Pia Dubar, Justine Delloye, Omar Zniber, Taha Barkaoui and Charles-Elie Latawiec
Figure 1: I (on the far right) and my fellow French speakers at the Francophone Village open house: Perrine Lesage, Pia Dubar, Justine Delloye, Omar Zniber, Taha Barkaoui and Charles-Elie Latawiec

As a programming coordinator, I am responsible for several things, including coordinating monthly dinners and activities. The best part of being a coordinator is making those dinner because, for me, FOOD=LIFE! I really enjoy cooking, and I believe that one way to have an effective cross-cultural communication is by sharing food. As a result, twice a week, my residents and I pull our efforts together to make delicious meals from the Francophone world. The most recent dinner, last Friday, featured the famous poutine dish– French fries topped with cheese and gravy–from Québec. Since I went on fall break trip to Quebec with the French club, it seemed only appropriate to do a dish from that region. In addition to the regular potatoes, we made some sweet potato poutine, inspired from the menu of Cinko, my favorite restaurant in Montréal! While we ate, a slideshow our adventures in Quebec was playing on the screen, and we had the great time.

Figure 2The original Poutine from Cinko!
Figure 2: The original Poutine from Cinko!

At previous dinners, we made food from Côte d’Ivoire (Aloco-fried plantains-and fried rice), Tunisia (Tunisian coucous), France (Quiche) and Québec (Poutine). These dishes represented the countries and regions of the French speakers that Juniata had, which shows the affluence of the francophone cultures on campus. In order to promote the village, I organized an open house and invited President Troha and Provost Bowen. They were happy with our work and loved the food! In the near future, we will be making food from Niger Senegal and Guadeloupe and continue to invite various members of the Juniata community.

Figure 3: Ivorian fried rice and Tunisian coucous mixed
Figure 3: Ivorian fried rice and Tunisian coucous mixed

As a global citizen, I am proud to be involved in pioneering GV in the newly renovated Global Commons; My co-coordinators and I, with the support our advisors and generous contributors, do our best to set the stage for the future global residents. GV still has a long way to go—we still need a kitchen of our own, which requires donations and skillful marketing skills–, but I believe in the importance of language learning and global citizenship. And indeed, we are on the right track.

 

Photo Credit to: Haruka Kamegaya

From Lille to the DNC in Philly: A Summer Well Spent

Wow! I can hardly believe that it’s week 4 of college already. It felt like only yesterday that I was studying abroad in Lille, France, last June, and attended the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia the following month! As an Eagles Abroad Scholar for French, I am required to study in a French speaking country, which I started by participating in the European Summer Program (ESP) at The Catholic University of Lille or La Catho for short. I enrolled in a French level 10 course, which, as a Francophone, allowed me to improve my writing tremendously. My professor was very dynamic and gave us many opportunities to discuss our ideas and debate in French. We talked about various topics ranging from Francophone cultures and arts to racism and politics, given our various countries of origins such as, Burundi, Colombia, Syria, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, India, China, the Philippines, the US and so many more. In addition, I took an elective course called European Integration: Borders in Turmoil, which taught me about the functions of the EU and its potential future; the course was a great supplement to my politics studies as it provided me with a unique insight on the EU from an actual European, and particularly French perspective.

Figure 1A collage of my adventures in France with my Friends. The pictures were taken during our various travels!
Figure 1A collage of my adventures in France with my Friends. The pictures were taken during our various travels!

Of course, I did not miss out on the amazing French cuisine. Every day, I got breakfast from the local boulangerie-bakery- right around the corner of La Catho: croissants, brioches, pain au chocolats and hot choco were life! Every so often, I would also visit an Ivorian restaurant called La Main Magique: Chez Josie, which I absolutely adored! Knowing the popularity of the appetizing attiéké dish of Côte d’Ivoire, I pointed the restaurants out to other Africans that I met in Lille. We visited the beautiful cathedral, Notre-Dame d’Amiens-Our Lady of Amiens-and ate some delicious crêpes! We also traveled to the beaches of Normandy, the Palace of Versailles and Mont Saint-Michelle!

While I was sad to leave Lille, I was also excited to come back to the States and attend the DNC in Philly, 2 weeks later! The DNC was indeed an experience like no other. I had the pleasure of meeting the CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, Leah Daughtry, an amazing and charismatic speaker. She inspired me with her saying “In their minds, this is not a ceiling. It’s a starting point.” I felt empowered to pursue endless opportunities knowing that the sky is not my limit but rather my starting point. Daughtry also made me appreciate and acknowledge the efforts of those who paved the way in order for me to be successful.

Figure 2Leah Daughtry, First African American CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC), and I at Temple University
Figure 2Leah Daughtry, First African American CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC), and I at Temple University

I had the chance to work with the State Department Foreign Press, which gave me access to the convention hall every nights. I had the opportunity to meet various foreign journalists whom I interviewed for my article assignments. Indeed, the work load was very demanding, but I had fun doing interviews, visiting the city of brotherly love, networking and meeting my favorite journalists, The Young Turks! I will never forget the moment when Hilary took the stage on the last day of the DNC. The crowd roared and cheered and I never felt more fortunate in my life; I was witnessing history in the making and breathing the same air as the first woman presidential nominee in the history of the United States!

Figure 3I watched the ball drop at final night of the convention!
Figure 3I watched the ball drop at final night of the convention!

My summer experiences make me so proud of being at Juniata and thankful for such wonderful opportunities. I am happy to announce that after the DNC, I will be attending the 2017 Presidential Inauguration and witnessing history in the making once again, regardless of whom she might be!!!

Figure 4Dr. Plane (far right) and me among other Juniata students at Temple University for the DNC!
Figure 4Dr. Plane (far right) and me among other Juniata students at Temple University for the DNC!