Through books like Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl about his incarceration at Auschwitz and documentaries like Enemies of the People about the Khmer Rouge, history has taught me that human empathy knows no borders.
My favorite “history nerd” moments occur when I can explain a modern socio-political phenomenon by drawing connections to a historical event, like tying the gender pay gap to the Neolithic Revolution and linking recent voting patterns to centuries of de jure/de facto racism. For my IB Extended Essay, I am writing about the Second Amendment, and I hope to elucidate the current gun control debate with research surrounding the legacy of the Glorious Revolution.
My passion for history led me to an internship at the Sejong Institute, a think-tank specializing in Korean diplomacy. While I translated Korean research publications on topics like denuclearizing North Korea and resolving the South China Sea disputes, I drew heavily from what I learned of the region’s past, coming to understand that international conflicts cannot be resolved in the absence of historical insight.
This notion also applies to my participation in Model UN. Exploring the ramifications of historical events has helped me create more comprehensive solutions; learning about the often-controversial past actions of nations has prompted me to raise ethical questions. For instance, I was appalled to learn that the Kurdish crisis, Syrian Civil War, and ISIL could be traced to the Sykes-Picot agreement, which carved up the region into ‘spheres of influence’ in 1916. In resolving these conflicts, how do we balance national sovereignty with the responsibility of former colonial powers to stabilize the region?
This summer, I enrolled in “Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology” at UC Irvine. From tracing the African exodus of Homo erectus two million years ago to examining La Bestia (Mexican freight trains used by US-bound migrants), I now understand that migration is as old as history itself.
In college, I hope to continue drawing connections between history and contemporary geopolitics as a Political Science major. Eventually, I hope to become a civil rights attorney, and the first Asian woman on the Supreme Court.