Chapter 5

In chapter 5 Overcoming Obstacles it talked a lot about going with your gut. People make decisions based on their gut feelings and emotions.

“Content strategy will help you create the right content for your audience.” I agree with this statement. If the content is irrelevant and has nothing to do with the website you are launching it is hard for people to pay attention. If your content is collected and designed in a strategic way then it will help your viewers not get discouraged when looking at your site and know that there is valuable information that retains the audiences interest.

“Appearance can greatly influence perceptions, and we carry that mental model with us when sizing up a website. Mint’s sharp design inspires just enough trust to help people value its benefits more than they fear its costs.” I disagree with this statement when talking about Mint and trusting their program based on the design. I feel like for me personally it would be very difficult to make me trust a company that needed all of my bank account information when it isn’t linked to my actual bank account. I am just not comfortable putting my personal information into a software that could possibly be hacked.

Italian Cabaret

Recently, The OU Italian club hosted a cabaret that was filled with performances only in Italian and from memory. It was amazing. I was so excited to go at first, because I have been taking Italian. I was surprised when I discovered that my Italian conversational skills are elementary to say the least. I tend to forget that I will not become proficient in a foreign language in one semester. 

Near the end of the event, a young man showed up and announced that he would be demonstrating how to make an authentic Italian canoli (pictured below)!

It was so amazing! The event has me so excited about Italian culture. 

I have made it a point, as an American Indian, to learn as much about my culture as I possibly can. Now that I know about my culture, I have lMearned that to understand a peerson and communicate with them as best as possible, you need to learn about them as much as possible.


British Naturalists in Qing China

Can a book only 11 years old be a classic? If any work can claim to be such it is surely Fa-ti Fan’s British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter. This is a huge geographic and political shift from the previous books that have dealt with India and British India. I make that point because it is important to remember that the earliest relationships with China were undertaken pretty much under Chinese terms. Even following the end of the Opium Wars and the forceful opening of trading ports China was never a colony under the British Crown. British Naturalists in Qing China

That is something that is easy to overlook within all the accounts of British fieldwork is lumped together into the standard imperial-vernacular polemic.  Maybe polemic is too strong a word. Either way it is the standard narrative of the boundary lands–theoretical as well as physical. In less than 200 pages Fan is able to reveal that is much more than what meets the scholars eye, and that much more is needed to understand the nuance, and highly independent (and interdependent) relationship between those that knew the raw material and those that wished to classify it. British Naturalists in Qing China

Fan’s methodological approach to including the knowledge of the Chinese everyman into the larger scope of Imperial Botany and the powers at Kew should provide anyone researching fieldwork in any region with a more than adequate framework with which to present a fully nuanced and historical account. British Naturalists in Qing China

She deftly begins with the standard setup presented in historical sources of how Britain was setup in Canton in a line of warehouses and were forbidden to enter the city proper. It is when she looks deeper into the relationship between diplomat and merchant, trade consul-man and informant, outsider and local, that her research provides both a broad view of natural knowledge and a focus on the actual objects and information being traded.

British Naturalists in Qing China

One of the joys of the book is the attention that Fan pays to the folklore and literary influence that existed during the early 19th century Chinese natural history.  Throughout the book she shows just how intertwined natural history and sinology was during the period. One had to understand the nature of the Chinese culture before they could understand the nature of China.

British Naturalists in Qing China

One of the largest differences that face the standard explorative travel adventures was that China was no “Dark Continent,” or unexplored rainforest. China had an infrastructure that lent itself to travel in ways Dr. Livingstone could only have dreamed about.  Once Kew (and other collectors) had established their network in Canton, and eventually other locations, those naturalists on the ground set up networks of their own. Sometimes they had to create a network from scratch, but this was rare due to the expansive success of the French missionaries that had been in China for much longer than British naturalists.

Many of the Chinese natives that provided local knowledge, translations, and information to the naturalists were Catholic converts. The “imperial model,” while still employed by many of the British travelers in China, carried much less authority. In fact, outside of British controlled trade ports it carried nothing.  Armed with their own superiority, many found themselves relying on the Chinese more than they cared to admit. It is also a delight to see just how much the naturalists relied on the knowledge and skill in collecting among the rural Chinese farmers and hunters in order to fulfill their orders and fill their collections. British Naturalists in Qing China

My favorite story within the book is actually a really good case study into the operations of British natural history in China, and it was undertaken by a Frenchman. Albert A. Fauvel was a member of the Chinese Customs and as such worked closely with the British. In charge of the Natural History Museum in Shanghai Fauvel’s interest in the natural history of China was far more than a hobby.   It was Fauvel who first published description of alligators in China.

British Naturalists in Qing China
The Land Dragon (also known as Tuo.

Fan’s analysis of Fauvel’s article is the perfect way to understand how necessary it was for naturalists in China to also be involved in the study of China itself. Fauvel traced the descriptions of the Chinese character tuo to disprove it referenced either an iguana or a lizard. Following descriptions of tuo wherever he could, he surmised that the land dragon with medicinal meat and skin good for drums was indeed an alligator, not unlike those described by John James Audubon and others working in Mississippi and Guyana.

What set Fauvel apart was not his mere description of the Alligator sinensis. Fauvel took the time to understand where the alligator fit into Chinese mythology, legends, and folklore. In China, Fauvel worked from Chinese text to understand the alligator in theory, but was unable to establish it as a new species without specimens. From the specimens in China he was able to work backwards–comparing the Chinese specimens to images in taxonomic reference books. Here we see an almost perfect mirroring of practice in the field involving both text and object.

For my own interests into account, even those beyond the study of field work, is the early discussions of paleontology with China. Early geology in China was limited even more than the other field sciences. One of the brief asides (which will lead me in search of the reference) was the mention of William Frederick Mayers working with Chinese text (in the same manner as Fauvel) to understand China’s prehistoric life. Without any physical remains or specimens to collect, Mayers was forced to work exclusively with Chinese literature, folklore and myth to find “descriptions and drawings of a huge, hairy, rat-like creature living underground, which he believed to be a mammoth” (118).

Modern paleontology is making up for lost time on the China front. Just during the few days I was reading this book,  dinosaur eggs found by workers building a road and the discovery of a bizarre leathery winged dinosaur were announced. Some things have not changed however, as any spectacular, too-good-to-be-true discovery is announced, it is received with some skepticism. This isn’t exactly the same mistrust that 18th century naturalist had of unobservant Chinese, or those who did not bother to separate fact from fable. There have been some high quality fakes coming out on the black market of China, and in the case of fossils in the 21st century just as many are made in China as found in China.

British Naturalists in Qing China
It was described in vivid detail


I try to always balance out everything I read with something that I wish had been included or different about the book. With this book it was more difficult for content, but easy to be petty. It is an oft repeated lament of mine about color images and illustrations. There are a host of reasons that black and white and greyscale are the case–ultimately I would say would be the cost of the final result being restrictive to its intended audience. However in this case the beautiful description of the illustration of the betel palm that included fruit that is in varying stages of ripeness along with the cross sections of the fruit, a full leaf and the entire tree would have been nice to see in the detail with which Fan describes it.

Inside the National Merit Community

From the windowed study room, dorm residents could be seen continuing in their normal dorm routines, which included socializing in the lounge, studying in groups, going in and out of each others’ rooms and occasionally skateboarding down the halls. These residents are just like any other college students, with one small difference – they are National Merit Scholars.

The National Merit Scholars have their own floor in Walker Tower on floor 10, but

non-National Merits also live on the floor. Although the National Merit title comes with a large connotation, the Walker 10 residents survive, struggle and thrive through their first year of college like everyone else.

Many of the National Merit floor residents expected a very quiet living situation before moving into the dorms. Nursing major and National Merit Scholar Emilee Sullivan said the floor is not what she expected it to be.

“I thought that everyone was going to be quiet, studious and rather anti-social, but it’s the opposite,” Sullivan said. “Everyone stays up late talking and is really friendly for the most part.”

Sullivan said that the National Merit floor has a stereotype of being “really awkward nerds,” but that this stereotype does not hold true. Austin Plank, a National Merit Scholar and chemical biomedical engineering and pre-med major, said the floor has turned out to be much different than he originally expected.

“I thought it would be quiet, calm and studious,” Plank said. “But I have discovered there are no quiet hours here.”

OU gives National Merit Scholars a large scholarship – $66,000 for Oklahoma residents and $120,000 for Non-Oklahoma residents – which attracts them to the university. Sullivan said this creates a lot of geographical diversity on the floor.

“Because of the scholarship, people from all over the country live on this hall,” Sullivan said. “Because many of them are from far away, they didn’t know many people coming here, so many found their community with each other, whereas many floors would typically find it somewhere else.”

Plank said the floor has a large sense of camaraderie, is never boring and people are always doing “crazy, goofy things.”

The Walker 10 residents often pull dorm pranks like many floors. Steve Reiley, National Merit Scholar and petroleum engineering major, said residents of Walker 10 can be seen skateboarding indoors or even getting in large trashcans and rolling down the hallway. National Merit Scholar and chemical engineering major Jack Appleyard described how he once disassembled a hallmates’ bed and reassembled it in the study room.

“A friend and I put Austin’s bed on top of the study room tables and set it up really nicely. We even put coasters under the bed legs to protect the tables from being scratched,” Appleyard said. “Unfortunately, I did get a citation for it.”

Sarah McMullen, non-National Merit Scholar and health and exercise science, pre-physical therapy major, described a time when the power went out around 3:30 a.m. one morning.

“Since the power was out, the security doors to the East (girls’) and West (boys’) sides were unlocked, meaning complete access to both sides of the hallway,” McMullen said. “So, both sides of the hall were running in and out between East and West and skateboarding down the hall. Some people were playing catch between the two sides.”

Although not a National Merit Scholar, McMullen said she has enjoyed her time living on Walker 10.

“If I could do it over again, I would still live on Walker 10. I have great roommates and everyone is generally very nice, social and outgoing,” McMullen said.

So just like any other first-year college students, the Walker 10 residents of the National Merit floor go through their freshman year one step at a time, with the occasional trashcan riding and bed dismembering stunts.

Note: This feature story was written for print publication. Thus, there are no online elements.

Bridging the Creativity Gap: Oklahoma Creativity Festival

The heated wind blew across campus, sweeping away the remnants of summer and welcoming the fall of 2014. In the Walker-Adams Mall, powdered paint flew across the large grassy area, hitting participants and bystanders alike smack in the face. Later that week, a crowd erupted in quiet applause as the performer took a bow and stepped off of a small platform stage after reading an original piece of poetry. The next day, models strutted down a runway in original fashion pieces designed by students right here on campus.

This “paint frenzy,” poetry night and fashion show are all seemingly different; however, they have two important commonalities: they all foster creativity, and they are all part of Oklahoma Creativity Festival.

OCF, Campus Activities Council’s newest event, was created in 2012 to “bridge the creativity gap across disciplines and generations,” according to the Campus Activities Council website. The festival, typically hosted in September, consists of various events that foster and encourage creativity among students and non-students alike.

2015 OCF Vice Chair of Marketing Alicia McIntyre said the purpose of the festival is to unite the OU campus in a creative way.

“OCF’s goal is to show that creativity is all around us,” McIntyre said. “It’s to show that being creative is more than just the traditional ways that people think of.”

OCF puts on a wide variety of events. The executive committee expressed that their goal is to make sure that different creative outlets are explored other than the basic “creative” acts, like painting and drawing. For this reason, some of the festival’s events include a paint war known as “Paint Frenzy,” a music concert featuring local musicians known as “Boomer Fest,” a poetry reading, a fashion show and more.

2015 OCF Chair Emily Owens said there will be changes to the series of events this year. Instead of a week full of activities, the events will be spread out over the course of about a month, with one activity or event per week.

The committee is working on hosting an event known as “Maker Faire.” Maker Faire is an organization that hosts fairs across the country and describes itself as “an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and commercial exhibitors,” according to the Maker Faire website. These “makers” attend Maker Faire to show what they have made and share their experiences and knowledge.

As such a young CAC event, the executive committee has found itself faced with numerous challenges throughout its few years. One of its largest challenges has simply been getting the OCF name widely known across campus.

“OCF doesn’t have the brand name capability that everyone recognizes like with homecoming or Scandals,” 2014 OCF Chair Taylor Petersen said. “When people have never heard of an event, it is hard to get a large audience and even harder to get people to participate.”

Despite facing attendance and participation challenges, there are perks to being a newer event. While the OU student body has certain expectations for older events like homecoming, the students have little expectation of what will occur each year during OCF.

“OCF is unique because it isn’t rooted in any tradition,” Petersen said. “Every year of the event could be vastly different than the one before it because creativity can never be defined. It is instead constantly changing, just like OCF will year after year.”

Students and executive committee members praise OCF for being an event that is completely different from any other event on campus. While some students believe that CAC events are largely for Greek organization participation, OCF is welcoming to students young and old, Greek or non-Greek, undergraduate or graduate, while also welcoming the local public.

“OCF is the only organization that is truly universal,” executive committee member Andrew Moore said. “We strive to let everyone express themselves the way they want in an environment that accepts them. Without OCF, there may not be a place for them to feel safe enough to let their creative side show.”

Executive committee member Adam Masters said that OCF has not only helped students get involved on campus, but it has also changed him for the better by helping to broaden his horizons and “see different types of creative students.”

Other executive committee members said involvement with OCF has helped them step out of their usual realms on campus by encouraging them to make new friends and showing them new experiences.

“Being on exec really pushed me out of my comfort zone to meet new people and try new things,” McIntyre said. “It was really rewarding to see how many people we impacted with our events. It has helped me grow as a person and diversify who I spent time with, and I’ve also gained some really valuable life experience.

So, whether you’re a painter, designer, musician, tinkerer or creative thinker, Oklahoma Creativity Festival has a place for you. Through its series of events, it has not only helped to diversify and unite OU’s campus, but it has also helped to foster creativity throughout the community.

Note: This feature story was written for print publication. Thus, there are no online elements to this feature.

OU Cousins BBQ and the Boren Effect

The Boren Effect: the frustrating phenomenon that occurs when one attempts to capture a clear photo with President Boren. It occurs most frequently at crowded events in which everyone pushes forward wanting a picture with Boren and the nervous photographer rushes through the delicate process of pressing the capture button on a phone camera, resulting in an unsatisfactory picture to remember the exciting three seconds with OU’s president.

I attended the OU Cousins BBQ this past Tuesday, and I’ll be honest, I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get a decent photo with President Boren. I even tried again with my roommate, and it was blurry also–

OU Cousins BBQ and the Boren Effect

But at least I was able to shake his hand.

All this aside, the BBQ was awesome. They had the biggest turnout this year with around 500 people in attendance. We were given a straw cowboy hat and a bandanna upon arrival, ate a classic BBQ dinner, and then tried out some country dances. There was even a mechanical bull!

It was hilarious to watch the international students try to immerse themselves in Southern culture. In actuality, the event was also an opportunity for me to immerse myself in Southern culture, since I group up in suburban Arlington, Texas and was never really fully exposed to it. You probably would never have thought a Texan wouldn’t know how to two-step. But now I know, don’t worry. I’m learning more about my own culture than I thought I would by attending these international events that are meant to educate international students.

Final Reflection Post

For my final assignment, I chose to create an iMovie for the first time. I chose to title it Journey through Pubs-Land, since I find myself funny at times. It highlights my major assignments in class, as well as a few practice assignments. This course has helped me to grow in many ways, but especially from a more creative aspect. Having knowledge in InDesign and PhotoShop are important to have, so the fact that I was able to learn more than just the basics is fantastic. I would take this class again if I could. If Gaylord offered a next step class for this course, I would take it in a heartbeat. Until next time, folks.