I had the privilege to listen to Lisa Morales, as she came to speak to PCS about her life in the Peace Corps. She talked about the things that she did in Paraguay and how rewarding it was. It was very interesting hearing her story because she discussed how things were so different internationally, compared to our privilege here in America. The Peace Corps opened her eyes to a new way of life, as she grew very humble and open-minded afterwards. Many third world countries go through so much, yet we are never aware of it because we fail to open our eyes. She described the Peace Corps as life changing because she was able to serve others like no other. This topic over international volunteerism was very exciting for me because I aspire one day to join the Peace Corps. After listening to her story, it really made me want to learn more about other countries by traveling again. The Peace Corps seems very intimidating, but rewarding.
Most of us know this day as “Columbus Day,” yet know so little of the history of this day. Today was not the day that Columbus found America, actually he never did, but a day to actually celebrate those that inhabited America, but were not credited. People inhabited America long before Columbus came; however, that’s the story our history books told us. Knowing the true story of what Columbus did to indigenous people and his fraud of finding this country opened my eyes more on the brutal history of America. Indigenous people need to be given credit, as they were the true founders of America. Today on the South Oval, there was a march and celebration of indigenous culture, as it showcases pride. The beauty in learning the truth behind history is to be woke and not close minded, to be educated, and not lied to. As I learned what today’s true meaning meant, it brought tears to my eyes. I thought I knew the real story of Columbus; that he didn’t discover America; however, In my African and African American Studies class, there was much more to this. Indigenous people have been oppressed for a long period of time, so today is the day to represent one’s culture and show out! (:
This event was extremely fun, as I learned about different cultures. I learned that Africa has 54 countries, that Israel is not an Arabic country, but Palestine is, and I learned that Czechoslovakia has 7 countries and are all independent democracies after the reign of a dictator regime. There was so much interesting music and food that it really made the event shine. The Indian Association was giving out free cookies, and they were amazing. I tried some treats from other tables too. It was fascinating because when you simply ask about things, you receive an abundance of information. I truly believe in the power of knowledge and understanding to unify all walks of life, and that’s why I enjoyed this because I was able to grow closer in understanding different things.
Yesterday was an exciting day because I finally got to experience OU Cousin again; this year with a new International Student. The matching process was so fun, as we got to socialize with a lot of the international students and eat ice cream. After talking to many students, my eye was set on a girl named Charlie, although her real name is in Chinese. She’s from China and she loves sports, like myself. I was so excited to match with her, and I can not wait until we hangout more. This is going to be a fun year (:
Being back on campus after a Summer in Italy feels so different. I miss the Italy vibes; however, it’s back to reality. My traveling adventure just began this summer, and I’m ready get going to even more places. The Study Abroad Fair was so fun to get to see a world of opportunities out there. I am looking to travel somewhere in South America; therefore, I was directed to places like Chile or Guatemala or even Mexico. I love Hispanic culture, so for my semester long abroad experience, I want to go somewhere where I can get better at my Spanish. The Abroad fair allowed me to see so many possibilities. Today was fun chatting with others who have been to those places to hear their experiences. I’m so ready to travel again.
This entire trip has taught me so many things that I don’t even know where to start. I am so glad my mind was open to many different things, and I learned an abundance of materials to utilize and take back home. The main thing I feel like this trip helped me develop is becoming more humble. It’s very hard in life not to have a moment to think about yourself, but when you only have a group of people to trust and look after, you began to become selfless. This experience taught me that it isn’t about me, it’s about the group. For example; though I may have been exhausted during some part of the trip, i needed to push through for my group or if someone needed something, I would give it without hesitation. This allowed me to learn how to truly put others first because we needed to take care of one another.
There were so many things that Italians do differently than Americans, such as walking everywhere or saving electricity so the lights aren’t used when we aren’t at home. I took a lot of these things for granted just because of me being close minded and privileged. This trip made me humble myself and realize my privilege. I couldn’t just hop in a car and drive down the street to a grocery store, or I couldn’t leave my computer in my room to charge when I’m not there, and I realized that it’s okay. Cars affect the environment and so does the electricity and the economy, but I never realized that in American because I didn’t care to look at the overall picture. I saw so many people without homes, so much poverty, and it broke my heart. It really made me realize that even though I may not have much, there’s always someone who has it worst, so you give. I tried my best to give to those in need because I believe if you can do it, then do it. After many times I find myself being ungrateful, I have to remind myself of my privilege.
This trip made me develop my mentality to thinking of things as an opportunity and not an obligation. When we’d go to these incredible places, walking miles, tired, and thirsty, we still got the opportunity to do this and that is rare. When you think of things as an obligation, you began to think negatively and forget the value of that thing. I was blessed to have experienced everything, and grew more humble through the experience. I got the OPPORTUNITY to go to Sienna, I got the OPPORTUNITY to see beautiful art, and I got the OPPORTUNITY to be here because people were selfless and gave to me, so my debt is to mirror that image and be selfless in the world. No one is perfect, and I am still a work in progress, but this trip definitely allowed me to diminish myself and enlarge others. What an amazing time<3
Today was our last day in Rome, and it was a sad, but joyous day. It was so cool to reflex on this experience and see how close I got to people, without even thinking I would. Today was so fun because we got to see the Colosseum and the Forum. Walking around Rome one last time was bitter sweet because i honestly grew to really like Rome, despite its busy city and crowded area. It was so interesting to learn about the Colosseum, and its rich history. Learning about the morbid things that happened in the Colosseum were fascinated, yet disturbing because it was insane how people could be treated that way just because they were different.
There were dog fights, boxing matches, animals mauling humans, and more that went on in the Colosseum. They didn’t have the bottom of the arena cover up, so we were able to see where the animals and prisoners were kept underneath the Colosseum. The seating arrangements were interesting, starting with the first level being the most important emperors and superior, next was the senate, the third level were for Roman citizens, the the fourth was for everyone else. The ones closest to the arena (the emperor) were the ones with the most power over what’s going on in the arena, or who called the shots. It wasn’t what I expected for some reason, and I think it was just because the bottom part was open and didn’t have sand covering it.
We then went to go see the Forum, and that was pretty cool. Honestly, by this time, my feet were killing me so I was kind of checked out. For the most part, I was listening and I learned that the Forum is the center of Rome and that it also had buildings with different purposes, like a senate chamber, treasury, and more. To end the day, we had our farewell dinner, and it was so sad. I’m truly going to miss everyone. This was such an incredible experience, and I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. I almost teared up a little when everyone was giving their speeches. Lastly, It made me happy to see and hear people talk about their growth, and I can’t wait to see what PCS can bring back to Norman to make a change. Chao! Italy for life!!!!!!!!!!!
Today was the day we’ve all been waiting for: miles of walking. I didn’t believe it would have been bad until I took the journey myself. I really do love to walk and run, but when there’s so many people and too much commotion going on around you, it gets very hot and overwhelming. Rome is so packed, it’s ridiculous, so I was always on the edge about my stuff. The walk to the Vatican Museum was so long, but totally worth it. On our way there, we made a few stops and one of those stops had to be the Museo Frati Cappuccini Cripta Ossario. This Museum was so cool because it had a hall of bones. We also saw the San Rocco Di Montpellier sculpture, momentos, and Cappuchos (a tunic with a hood).
The Hall of Bones was so neat because the bones were in different sections and were neatly organized to look momentous to the viewers. It was a very symbolic area that represented the many lives lost because the mortality rate was so high, death was and still is inevitable. As Kirk said it best, “No matter how much we try to control our own world, death will always have the last laugh.” The Hall of Bones had a very powerful message behind it, and that’s why I liked it so much. After that, we continued our adventure to the Vatican Museum. It was incredible to see how popular this site was due to the extremely long lines, but also crazy because of the wait. These vendors that kept walking by to sell stuff were so persistent, it was insane.
The Vatican Museum was absolutely amazing. It was huge, beautiful, symbolic, and so much more. We saw a lot of things from the Laocoon sculpture to the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Losing Her Son sculpture. Before the Vatican, we saw many fountains that you could drink from! I was so shocked because I felt like that would’ve been very gross to drink from, but Kirk said they’re actually the cleanest water in the city, so I gave it a try. It was actually really good and cold too. I just hope that doesn’t cause any complications later down the road, haha. To end the night, we had a family PCS dinner at this amazing restaurant, with the best service ever, then all of PCS went out for a fun night at a lounge. It was Karaoke night, and you know we blew that stage up. I’m truly going to miss these nights.
After a long and relaxing day yesterday, we woke up early today to leave behind Arezzo forever and head to Rome for our final days in Italy. The best thing, however, is that I and a couple of other people were selected to do the extended stay, helping at a kids camp in Arezzo, so I’ll be seeing Arezzo soon again. I am excited that I get the opportunity to stay a little longer and serve the kids. Our trip to Siena was about an hour and a half long and as soon as we got there, I fell in love. The city was so clean, the air was fresh, it wasn’t as crowded, and it was overall just a beautiful city. The only bad thing was that it was so sunny and beautiful at first, and then it started to rain so bad, so we couldn’t really enjoy the city as much. We also tried some really good pizza and sandwich places that was definitely worth the money.
The first place we explored was the Basilica Cateriniana Di San Domenico, and it was so amazing. Kirk talked about how Mary became this idol to many people through her path of Christ. Virgin Mary defied all the things that women were suppose to do and followed the path that Christ was leading her. She denied marrying a man and instead said she was married to Christ, she made herself look less than herself, starved herself, became a nun, and performed miracles through the works of Christ. She was an ambassador to speak for us through God. I learned that Roman Catholics pray to Christ and Virgin Mary, but venerate relics, which are evidences of a divine hero on earth. Way back when, Siena was losing a battle and the only hope the soldiers had was to pray to Virgin Mary, which brought them to victory. After that, Virgin Mary became the Queen of Heaven and of Siena and was worshiped greatly.
After learning so much about the Duomo in Siena, we had a little free time where I bought a gift for my aunt. We finally left to get out of the rain and headed to Rome. After like four hours, we made it to our hotels, and they were so beautiful and spacious. Rome is such a big and crowded city, so I’m a little nervous, but I think it will be a fun experience. We went to dinner together, and it was so good to have everyone together laughing and having a good time. We were informed that we’re doing a lot of walking tomorrow, so we have to be prepared. I’m very anxious to see what’s to come and to make the best out of these last days with everyone here.
Today was such an exciting day because I was finally getting able to go to the beach. I’ve only been to the beach once in my life, and it was when I was younger, so I wasn’t able to fully understand an experience like that. This was a once and a lifetime experience that I didn’t want to miss out on. We woke up early to catch the trains and surprisingly from there and back the train process was smooth and easy. No one was left, and we made it safe and on time. When we got to Viareggio, the town was very pretty and tranquil. I loved all the palm trees and beach vibes because it was so soothing. The beach was so pretty, and so was the areas that we sat in.
It was so funny because the first thing we did was go take pictures. It was like we were having our own personal photo shoot. The people kept starring at us, smiling, because we were taking so many pictures. Eventually, we wanted to enjoy the moment, so we tried hard to stay off of our phones and interact with one another. The water was so cold and a pretty blue color. The view of the mountains from the ocean was so beautiful that we kept wanting to take pictures with the view in the back. I couldn’t help but stare out into the ocean thinking about what amazing opportunity I just embarked on. After awhile, a few of us went to eat and man that place was incredible. One thing Italy never fails at is having delicious and juicy watermelon, and I ate a lot of it.
The best part about this trip was just being in the moment and enjoying good vibes. It was very peaceful to just sit and relax without any worries in the world. It felt good to lay down and forget about responsibilities for once, to be stress free, and to treat yourself. I feel like everyone truly deserved a day like this from everyone’s hard work and dedication to PCS. It was a beautiful moment to be around everyone, joking around and getting closer. With the chill music in the background, the sun beating down on my skin, and the breeze blowing, I thought about nothing but myself and the moment. It felt good to think about your own peace of mind. Overall, today was a much needed and relaxing day.