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Global Studies Work

On this page, you will find a selection of reflections I have written about the events I have attended, books I have read, and other work I have done with global studies. 


Cambodia Living Arts

         I grew up hearing about the Cambodia trip and Cambodian living arts in particular because my brother traveled there about a decade ago. Because of that and all the good things I had heard I was incredibly excited about the chance to finally meet and hear from Arn. It lived up to expectations but did leave me with a few questions. The most important question is how to articulate why art is important. Coming from a debate background where logical progressions are paramount, as soon as I finished the documentary on Monday I was questioning the importance of art. This continued through the Thursday class where even though I believe (albeit without a sound logical rationale) in the mission of the Khmer Magic Music bus I can't help but question whether the fund could be used in a better way. When it comes down to spending thousands of dollars on bringing music where it hasn't been in years or providing food, medicine or shelter to someone in abject poverty it is hard to decipher how music could be more important. On Friday, especially the night performance but to some degree the master class as well I finally understood. I still won't be able to make a logical argument why but the performance instilled in me an understanding, mostly based on emotion, of how art can truly bring communities together. This was demonstrated through how I feel closer and more connected to the culture and people of Cambodia even though the vast majority of the information taught about the people of Cambodia I had previously had. For that reason, I support the work of Cambodian living arts against my worse but more logical self.

Visit to the Palestine-American Museum

This museum is specifically important for two main reasons in my view. The first is that Palestine due to its nature as a nation whose people have little control over their own affairs and who are unable to return to the brown nation in many situations makes them unable to have a true identity. Whenever there is an imperialist force it can be difficult for the culture to survive. Thus it is important for a museum to keep its art and preserve its culture. The second reason is that Americans know so little about Palestine and thus need a museum like this to inform them.

There wasn't anything factual that I learned from the online website but I feel like it in addition to the trip to the museum reminded me that Palestine is an oppressed nation. It reminded me of the human cost of being denied freedom and being fearful of speaking out against the powers that be. 

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

In my view, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a magnificent book that perfectly blends the complexities of a multifaceted medical case, with an extremely human anthropological novel. By focusing on the interaction between the doctors and the Hmong parents of a child with epilepsy, Anne Friedman, Is able to highlight the differences between these two cultures, sometimes diametrically opposed view of medicine. One example of this can be seen when the doctors decided to take away Lia Lee from her parents. The doctor, Niel, made this decision because Lia Lee's parents refused to administer the correct levels of the prescribed medicine. However, It was clear that this was done with no intent of malice. In fact. The foster care parents trusted Lia Lee's parent's childcare abilities so much that they would drop off their own biological children with Foua when Lia Lee had medical appoints in Mercer. 

I felt that stories like this one did a great job of pointing out the fundamental cultural differences affecting the lives of the characters. Foua and Nao Kao had moved to a country where they could not speak, write, or use the other skills they had learned throughout their lives in Laos. This lead to a feeling of Uselessness as they were reliant on government aid for their entire welfare. However, they, like many Hmong, prided themselves on their childrearing abilities. It was for these reasons that they wanted to protect Lia Lee by using the medicine they were most comfortable with and not rely entirely on western medicine, for which they had a large amount of mistrust. This story painted a delicate portrait of what it means to interact with a higher power which simultaneously is untrusted and all-powerful over one's life. It is difficult to put into words the entire spectrum of cultural differences detected and explored by this book but it effectively boils down to this: everyone involved loved and cared for a single child, yet due to the differences in how to care for her, she wasn't able to be saved.

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