At the beginning of the semester, I had a plan to get really involved and join a lot of clubs and organizations. To demonstrate that, below is one of the reflections I wrote for class on the subject of what clubs I wanted to join, and what I wanted to get out of them:
There are several things I want to get out of international clubs and organizations at OU, the most important of which is international friendships. I think that simply becoming friends with somebody is by far the best way to understand that person’s life and culture. Not only that, but making international friends is also a good reminder that all people share certain similarities. I’m sometimes prone to broadly generalize countries and cultures that I don’t really know, and I occasionally need to be reminded that people everywhere are still people, and aren’t fundamentally different from people in my own culture. I’m really excited to be a part of OU Cousins, since the entire purpose of the program is to simply make friends with and try to understand international students.
My two secondary reasons for joining international organizations are language practice and preparing to work internationally as an engineer. Speaking Chinese makes me unreasonably happy, and I plan on studying abroad in China for at least a semester, so I’d really like to be able to join the Chinese language club. I’d really like to be able to improve my Chinese skills, while possibly making more international friends and learning about Chinese culture. I’m also very interested in joining Sooners Without Borders, since it combines engineering and international engagement. The main focus of Sooners Without Borders is water safety around the planet, which is a fascinating and hugely important subject. I plan on majoring in engineering and hopefully working abroad, so Sooners Without Borders is the perfect way for me to see what that might be like, while connecting with people throughout the world.
Now, we’re a little more than a week away from the end of the semester, and it’s time to see how many of these things I actually accomplished. First, international friendships. I did participate in OU cousins, and became friends with my cousin. We hung out a few times, carved some pumpkins together, and I really did learn a lot about Chinese culture. She’ll still be here next semester, so we’ll be able to develop that friendship further. I also made a few other international friends along the way, who are all incredibly fun to be around. In terms of my other goals for the semester, I didn’t accomplish quite so much. I went to Chinese Corner a few times, but I never really got involved with the Chinese Language Club or Sooners Without Borders. Mostly, this was because their meetings conflicted with practice times for OU Crew, but to be honest, I probably could have done more to get involved. I think I was a bit afraid of overcommitting and reverting to my stressed-out high school self, but I now realize that I definitely had time to do more than I did. I’m glad I took an easy semester, but next semester I plan on being involved much more than I am now.