When I first moved to Bartlesville, Okla. from San Diego, Calif., I admit: things felt a little different here. I suppose I was bound to encounter a couple of cultural nuances after traveling from a city populated by three million to a town of 36,000. In this reflection and in the three that follow, I will be writing about coming to terms with the differences and a few discoveries I have made along the way.
I would like to start with the topic of staying connected with the wider world. Remaining updated on major world events seemed effortless and unavoidable back home, where newsflashes continually streamed from screens in restaurants, shopping malls and even fitness centers. Perhaps it was me, but my first impression of campus life here was that, in peaceful Bartlesville on a small college campus, it was easy to forget about the outside world.
Of course this temptation could be common to college life anywhere. With friends, activities, and school, it is easy to let life revolve around what is happening on campus and forgetting what’s “off.”
All things considered, I have found that the bubble mentality is entirely avoidable. In fact, it turns out that a good number of my classmates and friends here are not out of touch at all, and I stood to learn something from them.
What follows are some insights gathered from my own experiments and those of fellow students. Want ideas of how to stay globally aware from your new locale? Here are some tips that work:
1. Take advantage of technological windows on the world
Using everyday technology can make learning about the world less of a chore and more of a habit.
In order to stay acquainted with general world events, I listen to a NPR five-minute newscast. I download the NPR application to my iPhone and play the newscast while I ready myself for the day.
Recently I spoke with fellow student, Connor Whitham, a junior social studies major who intends to pursue politics. Whitham had some additional thoughts to share:
“To stay informed and keep up with political topics, I stay connected through TV, Twitter, books, radio and the Internet. I enjoy following my favorite political analysts and politicians, like Glenn Beck and Bret Baier, through these mediums,” said Whitham.
Additionally, Whitham recommended using these tools to avoid another potential problem — insulating oneself from additional perspectives on the news. Using these same tools, “I also broaden my knowledge of viewpoints that are of the opposing ideology,” Whitham said.
2. Build globally and politically attentive connections
Our connections to the outside world need not be merely technological. They can be flesh and blood. We can be reminded about the world around us by engaging in discussion with people and groups we respect.
“I keep myself tied into the political scene by staying involved with my party at a grassroots level,” said Whitham.
As Christians, we cannot compromise truth by getting lost in propaganda. People, the body of Christ in particular, can help us to see issues as compared to the principles of Scripture. They can also nudge us or come alongside us to champion a cause.
“I tend to get my Christian view on world events from Relevant and Neue Magazine, as well as a few random blogs I frequent,” said sophomore, Jarrad McDaniel. “I also talk to my parents about what’s going on in the world.”
3. Get plugged in
A direct way of raising personal awareness and participation of places and people in need is to join forces with a nonprofit or missions organization.
Senior education major, Kelly Hunt, has taken that route. “I’m part of both The Sudan Fellowship and the Orange Movement,” said Hunt.
The Sudan Fellowship works to eliminate the fatal poverty in which the Sudanese live, and the Orange Movement raises awareness and funds to abolish human trafficking in the U.S.
Both of these groups originate from OKWU and meet on campus, enabling students like Kelly to reach out nationally and internationally from their local area.
“I definitely encourage anyone on campus who feels trapped by the bubble of an isolated private Christian school to look for organizations that will challenge them to broaden their worldview and donate their time and energy. Once you do it enough, it just becomes a part of your life that you feel lost without,” said Hunt.
It’s just that easy
There is no need for college students to feel out of the loop when conversation shifts to global topics. Young adults can be assured it is never too late to become well-informed citizens. Technology, parents, and charitable organizations can easily function as global studies teachers.