Mid-Autumn Festival

The OU Chinese Club hosted its Mid-Autumn Festival celebration on September 15. Both for Chinese exchange students away from home and tradition and for American students interested in Chinese culture, it was a great way to come together and commemorate this important Chinese holiday. There were several components to the evening: eating red bean and five-nut mooncakes (which I got the opportunity to help make!) decorated with traditional designs, hearing a presentation about the origins and celebration of the Mid-Autumn festival, listening to popular Chinese music, and playing popular Chinese board games like Guo and Mahjonng.

In additions to experiencing the aspects of Chinese culture facilitated by the club, I was able to talk to OU students who have studied abroad in China. They gave me advice about what to do and where to go when I’m in China next semester. Although the Chinese Club hasn’t done much this semester, this event was a perfect example of what the Chinese Club’s vision is: to bring together anyone who cares about Chinese language and culture and allow them to celebrate that together.

InterVarsity: World Student Day

For the past year and a half, I have been a part of OU’s chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF, or just IV). IV has chapters on campuses all across the United States, but it extends farther than that; its mother organization, the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), has chapters on campuses in 168 countries around the world. IFES’s vision, as stated on its website, is to see “students build into communities of disciples, transformed by the gospel and impacting the university, the church and society for the glory of Christ.”

As a means of furthering this vision and upholding the ideal of fellowship among Christians around the world, each autumn IFES holds an international event called “World Student Day”. World Student Day has two components: learning about our family in Christ across the world, and praying for them. At OU, WSD kicked off with the World Student Day celebration on October 20. IV members were divided into groups, each assigned to research regions of the world and the IFES presence there. My group learned about the Middle East and North Africa. As could be expected, the IFES presence there is sparse and cautious; there are many places in MENA where it is very dangerous to be a Christian and attempt to share one’s beliefs with others. But IFES has several staff workers who are faithfully and courageously serving there. If you have two minutes, read this short post on the IFES blog. It is a simultaneously heart-wrenching and encouraging account of what an IFES member faces in solidarity with his friends in MENA.

During the WSD celebration, each group gave a presentation to share what they had learned with the others. There was a potluck dinner, and we sang praise songs in different languages. The goal of the evening was both to educate OUIV members about the rest of the world, and to praise God for His provision around the world. The following day, October 21, was World Student Day of Prayer. We set up a prayer room in Zarrow Hall with a table for each region including artifacts, pictures, and prayer requests for that region.

God has blessed me with friends spread out across the world: my best friend attends school in Singapore, I have close friends in Uganda and South Sudan, there is a young woman like a sister to me who lives in a borough of London. I’m looking forward to making friends in China and other countries when I study abroad. WSD was such a great reminder of God’s presence across the world, not in my tiny bubble of school and friendships here at OU. I believe in an international, caring, peace-loving, cross-cultural God, and it is truly a joy to know that when we pray for people we love on any continent, on any country, He listens and cares.