Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Congratulations to Madalyn Vesoulis, who won the Owens Community College International Essay Contest. The competition was open to area 7th and 8th grade students as part of the school’s Celebrating International Education Week from Nov. 12-16.
To enter the contest, participants had to answer one of four questions based on their personal beliefs and experiences. Maddy’s essay addressed the question, “If world history is no longer a required class for high school graduation, what effects would this decision have on middle school students as they develop their world view?”
Maddy, a 7th level student, will read her winning essay during the International Flag Ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. when the international students at Owens will present their country’s flags in front of the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Her essay is available to read online below. Watch our Facebook page for pictures from the ceremony.
Cutting the Direct Line to World History
By Madalyn Vesoulis
I have always pondered over the thought of "What would it have been like to have lived in Greece, during the Holocaust and WWII?" Just thinking about all of the terrible things that had happened, even to my family since my ancestry traces back to Greek origins, makes me truly wonder how I would've managed in such a situation. Thank goodness for World History classes, perhaps they’re the reason that such actions have not been repeated. World History is a very important subject for a variety of reasons. While “promoting” a deep respect for different cultures, religions, races, and countries, it would also teach me to not just form an opinion on global issues, but to use my critical thinking skills to grasp world issues and form an educated opinion on such topics. Also, if we didn’t have world history classes, we wouldn’t ever be educated on what not to do, or even on being mindful and respectful of cultures and religions that differ from our own.
World history classes are a “direct line” to not only our nation’s past, but also to the histories of other countries, with their wide variety of cultures and religions. Learning about a country's past, its struggles, how it fought for freedom, and their economic state can really help students form their opinions, as well as develop respect for those countries. The World History curriculum could be considered a “cheat sheet” to many current and future rulers, and would also help myself, as well as other middle school students, by teaching us to not make the same errors again. Since one day we will be the ones in power, it is vital that we are properly educated on global issues, as well as gaining a respect for other cultures. Without the World History curriculum, we would not only be oblivious to mistakes made in other country's pasts; but also to a fellow human being’s past and personal experiences, and in order to understand a person, you therefore must understand their past.
By adjusting the high school curriculum, and making World History an optional class to take in high school, we would simply be cutting that “direct line” to our country’s past, as well as other countries’. There would be a limited amount of world and cultural respect that middle school students, like myself, haven’t had the opportunity to form yet. What happens in a person’s past molds that person, their culture, their family, and their future decisions. My grandparents grew up in the village of Nestorion, a small village in the mountains of Greece. When they were around my age, their village was attacked and burned to the ground by Nazis, commonly known as The Battle of Greece during World War II. My grandparents, helpless and defenseless, fled to the mountains with their parents where they had lived for 2 years. While it seemed like all hope was lost and there was nothing left, they had faith, their families, and their faith in God, which helped them get through such difficult times. They believed that the
Germans had indeed burned their village, but absolutely did not burn their culture or faith. Then, living “the American Dream”, they decided to immigrate to America. First sending my grandfather to start a life, then sending for my father’s oldest brother and my grandmother. I find everything that my grandparents have been through very inspirational, and that’s where my respect for my grandparents comes in. They were tough, yet faithful and ambitious, but they were always loving and caring. My grandmother, or my Yiayia, loved to cook and sing, as well as watch The Wizard of Oz with me. My grandfather, or Pappou, always looked very calm and stern in pictures, even though I’m told that he was just the opposite! When I was first told the story of how my grandparents had spent those 2 years, it was at that point that I really grew a deep respect for them and the others in the village. I feel that these events have really shaped my family to be who we are today, and I also feel that I fully understand my family now that I understand their past.
Taking World History classes in high school would help me develop an even greater respect for my culture as a Greek, and would also help me have a better grasp of global issues and politics. With World History, it would help me answer the questions that I wonder about myself. What are my beliefs about who should become our next president? Who, in my opinion, would be better for the country’s economy and job deficit? What do I feel strongly about that is happening in the Middle East at this current point? With an intelligent opinion using critical thinking, these answers may come easier to me rather than just observing “everything as itis”. As a critical thinker, I wouldn’t agree with everything that my parents would say about a specific topic; I would become familiar with the situation, use not only facts, but maybe even some opinion, and really develop my own beliefs about the world. World History classes in high school would help all students create their own beliefs, just like it would help me develop mine.
Overall, it is clear that eliminating the World History class from the high school curriculum would negatively impact my generation and future generations. By cutting that “direct line”, it would mean no education on global history, and would also mean that today’s youth wouldn’t have as much, if any, respect for cultures and religions that differ from their own. By taking World History out, it would be taking away the power to “see” the world in a new perspective, in addition to giving thought to situations like “What if I had to live like my Yiayia and Pappou did when they were my age?” World History plays an extremely important role in not only educating us on what not to do, but also by taking such classes in high school, it would definitely impact our future actions as leaders of society. Why cut the direct line, when many middle school students haven’t truly seen the world through such a pair of eyes?