New Horizons: Making Art and Exploring U.S. History

As we wrap up the semester, Global UGRAD students reflect on their experiences exploring new subjects!

Khin Oo, Burma, Iowa Wesleyan University

Khin’s oil painting of sunflowers

Even though my major is Business, I have been very interested in art since I was little. I also had a dream of studying art abroad. The Global UGRAD Program finally fulfilled this dream. At Iowa Wesleyan University, I was lucky to get a chance to study oil painting as an elective under the guidance of professor Don Jones who has been helping me with my painting. At first, I was so afraid to try oil color since I have never tried this before. However, Professor Jones encouraged me to give it a try. So far, I have completed more than eight paintings. While I cannot say they are perfect, I am satisfied at my first attempt.

I am amazed by how students in the class help each other out. I got a lot of help from my fellow art students. Through this experience, I believe I found myself somehow. I found the part of me that wants to create art no matter what. I have promised my professor that I will pursue art even when I go back to my country. Thank you Global UGRAD for this amazing opportunity. If I may quote Vincent Van Gogh, “Anyway, it’s not a bad idea for you to want to become an artist, because if one has fire in one, and soul, one can’t keep stifling them and one would rather burn than to suffocate. What’s inside must get out.”

Xiaxi Song, China, Kent State University

Xiaxi (middle) with her university advisor and fellow Global UGRADs

I decided to take a U.S. history class because I knew nothing about history. “Since most of you have learned American history in high school, our class won’t be a traditional survey class,” Professor Smith said in the first session. We had many assignments including quizzes, narratives, primary source analyses, and role play. These assignments were much more diverse compared to my assignments in China. I realized this class would be more challenging than I imagined.

Due to the unfamiliar words, my history textbook was a book full of new vocabulary. To familiarize myself, I made a vocabulary list, which helped me remember words and helped me understand the stories. I also talked to my professor during her office hours, asked questions, and told her about the areas that were difficult for me. My professor gave me good instruction and helped me complete my assignments. Additionally, I went to the writing center in the library and completed peer reviews with my friends to polish my essays.

In this class, I learned a little bit about the Dutch in America. I learned that they ate bread paired with hutspot (a one-pot dish of meats and vegetables). I realized that this is what I ate at my friend’s family’s house! I felt a connection between the past and present. Also, I found out why everything is sweet in the U.S. Sugarcane was a type of cash crop because people found a fortune in sugar trade.