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Bollywood Fusion Dance

Posted By IRC, Monday, March 19, 2018
Updated: Friday, March 9, 2018

My freshmen year at the University of Kansas was when my eyes were opened to a completely different culture. As I was searching for organizations to become a part of on campus, I attended a Bollywood fusion dance workshop. After attending the workshop, I decided to try out and join the Bollywood fusion dance team on campus, KU Jeeva. The teams in the competitive dance circuit fused multiple dance styles, both “Western” dance and South Asian dance styles. I was exposed to many dance styles that I had never even heard of: bhangra, garba, raas, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and others. Each dance has different origins and varies in intensity. I found that the dances really focused on expressions, especially the forms of classical dance, Bharatanatyam and Kathak.

KU Jeeva offered more than just a look into different forms of South Asian dance, and I built friendships which allowed for further exposure to South Asian culture. The first thing that I noticed about South Asian culture was the hospitality that was demonstrated by my friends and their families. Anytime I visited a friend’s home I immediately felt welcomed and as if I was an extension of the family. Something that was constantly offered to me was copious amounts of food and mango-flavored beverages. In addition to hospitality, South Asian families are extremely family-oriented, beyond just immediate family. Within the community there are very frequent dinner parties with all of the aunties, uncles, nieces, and nephews who come to share food, drinks, and conversation.

Lastly, I was able to learn a lot about the clothing and style in South Asian culture. There are many different outfits that people wear for different kinds of occasions. Formal wear would be a sari, ghagra, or legha choli. Informal clothing would be a salwar kameez, plain sari, or a kurta. Beyond clothing, mehndi or henna, is a form of body art that is used in South Asia. This is heavily used in Bollywood films, but is also used in some formal events and weddings.

I am extremely grateful for all of the experiences and friendships that I have built while competing nationwide and sharing my passion for dance. Beyond this I have enjoyed being a part of many families and celebrations such as Holi and Diwali. I hope to continue learning about South Asia and other cultures.

Shane Smith is a senior at the University of Kansas, majoring in Global and International Studies, with an emphasis in Latin American Studies.

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Runner's High

Posted By IRC, Monday, March 12, 2018
Updated: Friday, March 9, 2018

I wake up early in the morning before the sun has risen or the shops below open. I lace my shoes and leave the door of my apartment behind me, descending down the stairs and through the main entrance of my building. I turn up my street and make my way to the top of the hill. I find my breath with each step as I make my way onto the Plaza.

The crest of the hill as Wornall makes its way onto the designed shopping hub offers one of the best views in Kansas City. The miniature tower stands out below as the Spanish architecture stands alone in the Midwest. I look at the buildings that seem so out of place and reminisce on the years I lived abroad. The yellow walls, sun-drenched and decaying with time, make their way back into my mind as I trot along the streets for my morning run.

Looping around the curve, I hear the familiar sound of a guitar that takes me back to Seville, the sister city of Kansas City, the city which gifted the architects inspiration for the very neighborhood I find myself everyday. How I long for the life in those streets again. To see the guitarist whose daily habit led him to a curved alleyway with a perfectly placed nail and stool. To have that time back again is a gift every day as I run through the streets of Kansas City.

Walking through the streets of Seville is walking through time itself. It's a city that survived hundreds of years, changing hands of governments and cultures. The city seems to wind itself down in the meandering fashion of all great things that have no need to hurry. This city, too, could stand through time. One day, perhaps, tourists will come and wonder at the age of the buildings and the concrete of the streets. Perhaps, but not today.

Bryce Slaughter is Master's student at Avila University studying Education.

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Global Experience in Review

Posted By IRC, Monday, March 5, 2018
Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2018

On Monday, February 26, the International Relations Council hosted its second Global Experience discussion event. A group of community members gathered at Port Fonda restaurant in Westport to discuss the international implications of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Discussion questions included: Do the Olympics have any beneficial impact on world peace? Should performance enhancing drugs be permitted in the Olympics? Should the Olympics focus more on individual athletes and deemphasize national teams? Should there be an artistic competition along with sporting competition? Should both the summer and winter Olympics continue to be held in a different city every four years? Should we discontinue the Olympics?

The discussion was stimulating and timely, as the 2018 Olympics had ended the night before. The two discussion groups touched on the beneficial impact of learning about other countries and cultures through the games, and how this can increase a country’s pride and self-esteem and can contribute to a sense of global community. A prime example is the Olympic athlete from Tonga who made headlines in the Rio Summer Olympics of 2016. His reappearance as a winter athlete reminded attendees that without his shirtless escapade during the opening ceremony, perhaps fewer people would take the time to learn about Tonga and its people. Furthermore, discussions of doping as well as locations for the Olympics centered on the possible exploitation and disenfranchisement of less-developed countries. Should doping be allowed, poorer countries would have a difficult time matching the state-sponsored doping programs of wealthy nations, such as in Russia. Furthermore, privileging a few cities with the right to hold the Olympics to reduce waste would prevent the ability of the global audience to learn about new places and cultures. The merits of an international Olympic fund to aid less-developed nations in sponsoring the Olympic Games were also debated.

This event helped attendees to consider how their lives, the Kansas City community, and the nation are affected by these games. If they are to continue, it is worth establishing a dialogue to ensure they fulfill their stated goal: "… to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity." This dialogue was a meaningful step toward fulfilling this goal, as discussion must always be at the center of progress and development at the global level.

Maya Van Nuys is a junior at the University of Kansas with majors in Global and International Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies and minors in French and Economics.

Interested in joining us in future Global Experience discussions and gatherings? Click here to sign up for the IRC newsletter and stay up to date with the latest happenings:

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It's a Small World After All...

Posted By IRC, Monday, February 26, 2018
Updated: Thursday, February 22, 2018

For six weeks over the summer of 2017 I was given the opportunity to study the French language at the École l'Étoile in Paris, France. The first two weeks were spent on a tour of Northern France, from Strasbourg to Étretat, and through the chateaus of the Loire Valley before landing in Paris for the last four weeks. The tour featured some of the highlights of French tourism, including memorials and battle sites from World War I and II, as well as medieval relics like Mont Saint Michel.

Our time in Paris also provided many opportunities for sight-seeing. Though the hot and crowded day I spent at Versailles was not my favorite part of the trip, I was surprised at how touched I was by the Eiffel Tower; or, as I prefer, La Dame de Fer: the Iron Lady. Most often, those edifices which loom large in our mind fall flat in person; however, what I thought would be another tourist trap turned into one of my favorite spots on earth. There is a reason why so many pieces of poetry, literature, and music are dedicated to La Dame de Fer: she is striking.

To stand under her gave one the impression of all the history of that ancient city, yet it also brings to mind the relentless machine of progress. This was especially true with the twinkling lights that comeon at night. I sat and gazed at her in awe of my ability to be in another part of the world, yet feel completely at home.

My entire experience in Paris, though a wonderful global experience, reminded me of how small the world is. I had waited so long to go abroad that France had adopted a mystical aura in my mind. Once I was there, I realized how many things were similar to those at home: I saw rolling hills of farms that brought to mind the medieval fiefdoms of France, but also the Midwestern landscape I see when traversing I-29 through Missouri on my way home to South Dakota. I left France understanding just how close all the peoples of the world truly are, and how little separates us. I also left knowing it would not be long before La Dame de Fer and I meet again.

Maya Van Nuys is a junior at the University of Kansas with majors in Global and International Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies and minors in French and Economics.

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The Reviled Refugees of Manus

Posted By IRC, Monday, February 19, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Last week, UN officials once again called upon the Australian government to address the situation regarding refugees on Manus Island (Papua New Guinea) and to "live up to its responsibilities." More than 700 refugees remain in offshore processing facilities where health, security, and human rights are frequently put in jeopardy. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments to take a humane solution.

According to the UNHCR, 3172 refugees have been transferred by Australia to facilities in Papua New Guinea and Nauru since 2013. The refugees hail from a range of regions from the Middle East to Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, most of them risking their lives in a dangerous sea crossing to the Australian coast. These were the refugees that were called into question by President Trump’s tweet in February 2017, calling an Obama-era agreement to bring 1250 refugees to the US with the Australian government a “dumb deal."

After the Papua New Guinean Supreme Court ruled the Australian facilities as unconstitutional, the camp was set for closure on October 31, 2017 – a move that the UN Human Rights Committee disparaged for not allowing "adequate arrangements for long-term viable relocation solutions for all refugees and asylum seekers." A representative for the UNHCR found the construction of the new sites unfinished, with "heavy machinery on the ground as well, fences still being constructed." They also found the new sites lacking in trauma-counseling and interpretation services.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were alarmed by the conditions on the island after police forcibly removed refugees to the new unfinished sites in late November. Multiple security incidents have been reported at the new facilities, where an ongoing dispute between local landowners and the government’s contractor – JDA Wokman – have interrupted services to the refugee holding facilities. Local residents have also approached the government detainment facilities, sometimes armed with machetes and batons, and threatened the asylum seekers inside. Since the initiation of the program, more than six refugees have died, including Faysal Ahmed, who was denied appropriate medical treatment 13 times.

Australia has refused to resettle any refugees on the mainland, insisting it would have to find third country resettlement options. The country also has repeatedly denied a New Zealand offer to take in a number of refugees, claiming that such a move would make Australia a backdoor for New Zealand and encourage more crossings.  One must hope that a viable and humane solution is quickly found.




Official News Bulletin 

UNHCR Fact Sheet on the Situation on Manus Island

LA Times

NY Times 


Wenhan Sun is a high school student at The Barstow School. 

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Kashmir: A Land Divided and Torn

Posted By IRC, Monday, February 12, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Since its creation in 1947, Kashmir has been a land divided and torn. The mountainous region east of Pakistan and north of the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab is home to a diverse group of people. Kashmiris include Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, and the land is claimed by Pakistan, India, and China. Over the years, tens of thousands of lives have been lost in wars, skirmishes, and bloody protests.

The most recent quarrel occurred January 27, 2018, when Indian soldiers killed two Kashmiri separatists and injured nine others in the Indian occupied Srinagar, Kashmir. The military had prepared for protests that day, lining the streets with riot-geared soldiers and issuing a curfew. Protesters are said to have started throwing rocks at the soldiers and damaging vehicles prior, leading the military to open fire. The soldiers claim the act to be in self-defense, yet are still charged with attempt to murder and murder by state police.

The fight for Kashmir began just after the removal of British rule and the partition of India and Pakistan: India as a Hindu nation and Pakistan as a Muslim nation. Kashmir, under the rule of Hari Singh, was given the option to join either country or remain independent. Singh, a Hindu, initially chose an independent state, but was pressured into aligning with India. This ultimately lead to the first of three wars fought over Kashmir.

Today, Kashmir is a majority Muslim state, with nearly 60% of the population following the Islamic faith. Its future still is being fought over, with inhabitants pushing to join Pakistan or India or even become independent. As the two countries are split on land ownership as well as religion, it often becomes a religious battle.


Ellis Gilham is a freshman at Metropolitan Community College studying International Relations and Journalism.


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Diversity: An International Student's Perspective

Posted By IRC, Monday, February 5, 2018
Updated: Friday, February 2, 2018

My name is Antoine Precheur. I am a French student athlete who arrived in the United States two years ago. The first thing that struck me when I arrived here is the diversity on campus and on my soccer team. On campus, I realized that there were people from everywhere in the world. While most of the international students were from India, many came from the Middle East, Asia, or even Europe. In addition to the diversity on campus, I was impressed by the diversity of the soccer team. My team is composed of 10 Americans and 13 members from nine different countries (Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia, Nigeria, Spain, Italy, Hungary, France, and Germany).

While diversity is beneficial, it can get complicated. Indeed, it is crucial to be open-minded in this kind of environment. Sometimes, a joke you make can be misinterpreted by somebody from a different country, or a gesture you make to be polite can be seen as rude. There are also very different manners to greet each other. For example, in France, our way to greet a girl is to kiss her on the cheek. In the United States, it would be considered inappropriate. When I arrived here, I did not know that, so I tried to kiss a girl on the cheek and embarrassed her! This situation could happen to many people from different origins and cultures.

Kansas City is a deeply diverse city. I experienced that on campus and in my soccer team. Because of this, it is important to be open-minded about how international people behave and act. Being open to different points of view enriches our understanding of the world around us and helps us to better relate to our fellow citizens.

Antoine Precheur is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Finance and Entrepreneurship.

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Adventures in a Moroccan Medina

Posted By IRC, Monday, October 9, 2017
Updated: Sunday, October 8, 2017

While studying abroad for a semester in France, I had the opportunity to visit approximately a dozen countries. The most culturally enriching experience was the four days I spent staying in the heart of the Medina in Casablanca, Morocco. Admittedly, I picked Casablanca because it was the cheapest flight and because I love the film named after it. Although many friends told me I should have booked a trip to Marrakech instead, I remained optimistic and was rewarded with a wonderful, peaceful weekend in a beautiful port city unlike any I have ever been to.

So many things about Casablanca are so drastically different than what I was accustomed to. The streets are narrow and constantly bustling with cars, motorbikes, and pedestrians, and every morning I woke up to the sound of morning prayers being led over the loudspeaker from the mosque down the street. Morocco is unlike anywhere else I have ever been, yet I was frequently reminded of home.

The hospitality shown to me by my hosts and the shop owners in the Medina helped me to recall the kindness that Kansas City is so well known for. There was a group of children that played soccer every afternoon and between games of tag we would sit and I’d listen to their stories from school, just like the children I have babysat and watched grow up in my own neighborhood. At the time I had already been living abroad for four months, but this was quite honestly the first time I felt homesick. Between wandering through the Medina, visiting the beautiful Hassan II Mosque, and eating a whole lot of tajine, I was able to find a little piece of home in this wonderful new land, and it brings me joy to think that someone from Casablanca might be able to find a piece of home here, too.

Jessie Roach is a senior at the University of Kansas studying Global and International Studies and Political Science.

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Crisis in Venezuela

Posted By IRC, Monday, October 2, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 10, 2017

Venezuela has been in the news for many months for a number of different issues. Political strife and deep economic issues have plagued the country for some time. This political tension has caused many anti-government protests that have resulted in the death of dozens of people. These issues have also resulted in many starving citizens. Let’s take a look at some of the problems and what is causing them.

Venezuelan politics are split into two groups: Chavistas are those who support the socialist ideals of the late president Hugo Chavez, and the other group opposes their ideals. The current president, Nicolas Maduro, is a Chavista who has continued Chavez’s policies. This has resulted in many protests against the government by those who think Chavistas have destroyed Venezuela’s democratic institutions and mismanaged the economic budget.

Oil has long been the leading source of revenue for the country, accounting for 95 percent of Venezuela’s export revenues. Their oil revenue has declined significantly due to decisions made during the Chavez government, which has had significant effects on the economy.

Inflation has been another considerable economic problem in Venezuela, as the currency has become increasingly worthless. In early July, the minimum wage increased 50 percent. Knowledge of macroeconomics shows that this adjustment does not solve the inflation issue and could make the problem even worse. According to the International Monetary Fund, the country’s inflation could reach up to 720 percent by the end of this year. The main cause of this hyperinflation has been government overspending and mismanaged funds. Food, medicine, and cash shortages have also contributed to the issue.

These are the political and economic issues that Venezuela is currently dealing with. We can only hope that these problems can be resolved in a way that restores stability within Venezuela.




John Pawlewicz is a senior at the University of Kansas studying Economics.

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Lessons from Versailles: Isolationism, Victory, and Repercussions

Posted By IRC, Monday, September 25, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 10, 2017

When World War One finally ended on the November 11, 1918, more than 38 million military and civilian casualties had been reported between both sides, making this war one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. As a result of the war, the governments of four European powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russian, and Ottoman Empire) collapsed. The Allied Powers, led by Great Britain, France, and the United States, spearheaded the Paris Peace Conference. The Treaty of Versailles declared that Germany was responsible for starting the war and for causing all of the war’s destruction. Because the treaty was extremely (but not effectively) coercive, the Treaty of Versailles was destined to fail and should not have been expected to last more than twenty years.

Coming into November of 1918, both the Allied and the German armies were completely exhausted and ready for an armistice. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson offered his Fourteen Points as groundwork for a peace settlement after the war was over. The Germans, knowing fully well that they were very nearly exhausting their military in terms of personnel and supplies, decided to sue for peace on the terms of Wilson’s Fourteen Points. The armistice was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, and all fighting ceased.

Going into to the peace talks, the German government was under the impression that the Allies would honor Wilson’s Fourteen Points, as that was what they had advertised to the Germans in order to get them to stop fighting. However, once the German envoy arrived in Paris, they found that the British and French had instead planned for an unconditional surrender on the part of the Germans, as well as severe reparation payments, extremely limited military, and demilitarization of the industrial areas of Germany.

Due to the unclear communication, and the resultant punitive settlements the Germans agreed to, the German people felt betrayed for years after the war. After the Treaty of Versailles was signed, both the United States and United Kingdom resigned to very isolated positions in the international system. The United States Congress also failed to ratify the treaty to join the League of Nations. With neither the US nor UK wanting to involve themselves in European affairs, France was left as the sole enforcer of the Treaty of Versailles.

Building off of the animosity that stemmed from the miscommunication by the Allies and the French occupation, Adolf Hitler was able stroke the nationalistic fervor that was rising in Germany. By now, the credibility of the Treaty of Versailles was beginning to wear off, to the point where it was completely ignored.

After reviewing the Treaty of Versailles, the Supreme Allied Commander, Ferdinand Foch, proclaimed: “This is not a peace. This is an armistice for twenty years.” Foch’s words proved to be prophetic as the Second World War began 20 years and 64 days after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The treaty was flawed from the beginning, demanding impossibly high reparations and humiliating Germany on the international stage. The French lacked the true capability and credibility to effectively enforce the treaty, which as a result was eventually ignored. It was too late for Europe once the British and French actually started to worry about Germany. Luckily, the Allies learned from the mistakes of the Versailles Treaty and were able to end World War II effectively and maintain peace for more than 75 years.




Peter Fortunato is a sophomore at the University of Miami Ohio, pursuing a Bachelor degree in both International Studies and Statistics, and minoring in Spanish.

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