Why Learning History Is Important Today

Why Learning History Is Important Today

History may not seem relevant, but it is important
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Just this week, Bill Wurtz released a video called, “The history of the entire world, I guess,” a follow-up to the internet famous “History of Japan.” Filled with funny jingles combined with simple, yet effective animation, it summarized the world’s history since the Big Bang Theory to how the Earth and societies developed in twenty minutes.

In twenty minutes, another YouTuber made a video on a time-lapse of human civilization, since humans evolved out of Africa, documenting historical events and the world population along the way.

Among the visuals, great music, and commentary, one would know how the history of the world unfolded in distinct locations. It causes us to wonder about how we ended up here, in this very moment, reading this from behind our screens.

Therefore, I find a beauty in history—not in what happened or how many people died in the process, but in how people have innovated and fought and were like us today in emotions and dreams.

And a good reason to show to other people how, despite some people believing that they should’ve been born in a previous decade due to their art and culture, it may not be the best reason why they should live in that era. It’s not only because they don’t have the technology or the conveniences of today, but if they are not males of European descent who have a lot of money and influence, it would be significantly harder to live in.

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In the International Studies major at UW, students have to take three introductory courses: States and Capitalism, which focuses on trends between the 13th century and 1914; the Making of the 21st Century, which focuses on world order between 1914 and today; and Cultural Interactions in the Modern World, which focuses on ideas over the ages. A common thread between all three of them is how processes, whether through trade, or war, or pillage, creates these societies we have today. As the International Studies major also involves politics, economics, and anthropology, the history part sometimes sounds dry, if not irrelevant.

Personally, I liked the courses, and got a lot out of them. Most prominently, I’ve learned about the various trading posts in Europe, the Middle East, and China in the 12-13th century, and how they set the stage for what would be ahead in the 15th and 16th centuries. On the other hand, the making of the 21st century featured “world order” as a pivot point, and therefore the news articles we read about the world closely relate to world order and how it could transform overnight.

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What also makes history intriguing is how people would use it for their own aims, or to make a clear verdict to how people interpret events today. For example, in my Chinese class, we discussed about mainland China-Taiwan relations, and how any claims today are based out of who claimed it first. The Chinese argued it had Taiwan since the Three Kingdoms era, whereas the Taiwanese argue it was only at around 1885, when the Qing Dynasty absorbed it into China.

Recently, with FBI Director James Comey’s firing, discussions arose on whether it was “Nixonian,” or connective towards the Watergate scandal, potentially laying down the groundwork for impeachment. Others point out the lurch towards authoritarianism, which is not only historically for the modern day, but also emergent within the political science realm on how liberal democracies may not mark “the end of history."

Regardless on who is on the right side of history, and therefore worthy of the privilege of writing this for future generations, one cannot forget how important history is in determining our future. And if history is bound to repeat itself, how we can change it for the better.

Cover Image Credit: Marco Brambilla, "Evolution (Megaplex)," 2011

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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To The High School Counselor I Wouldn't Have Made It To College Without

I couldn't have made it through high school without her and now even college.

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Dear best counselor ever,

When I came into Blake High School I had no idea what to expect. I was a scared, confused, lost freshman. Coming into a school that my sister had just graduated from there were some familiar faces, yours being one of them. You were my sister's high school counselor for four years and then mine. But, you weren't just a counselor you were a friend.

Anytime I came into to your office you were there for me. You became more of a mother figure to me than a staff member. The endless times I came into your office with endless problems you were always there to help. When we lost two seniors my junior year your door was open for me and the rest of your students when we couldn't bear to go to class. When I couldn't handle my biology teacher anymore you were there for me to vent to. When I had testing anxiety you opened up a quiet space for me to take my tests. When I didn't know how to apply for colleges or what I even wanted in a college you were there for me. When they tried to switch my last name to a different counselor you kept me.

You were truly the role model, friend, mom, staff member I needed at Blake. I loved coming into your office and just talking to you about everything. I don't know how I would've survived four years without you and even survive college now. Every time I come home which isn't often your door is still open. I come home you ask how college is going and you're proud. You expect the best out of me and it makes me expect the best out of myself. I know how hard you work and I just want you to know that I couldn't have done it without you. When I was scared to go to a school fourteen hours away, away from my family and everyone I knew, you told me to follow my heart. My heart led me to Alabama and I couldn't be happier.

As you go back to school from winter break I want you to know how appreciated you are because I really don't know where I would be without a great friend like you. I walked across the stage at graduation looking at all the faces I would be leaving as I took the journey to Alabama. When you called my name I knew that was where my journey started. They handed me a red rose at the end of the stage. We were told to give it to someone who made a difference in our four years at Blake. I gave it to you not only because you made a difference in those four years, but because you made a difference in my whole life and taught me so many lessons that I couldn't have taught myself. I am stilling learning so much and I can't wait to tell you all about it the next time I come to your office.

Love,

Your favorite student (hopefully)

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