Traumatic History Personal Statement

Decent Essays
I wish to be considered for the M.A. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Amsterdam because of my interest and research experience in traumatic history education. As an undergraduate, I analyzed how ex-torture sites in Argentina used critical pedagogy to promote certain citizenship ideals amongst students. If selected for the program, I would like to explore how student perspectives regarding traumatic (and often pivotal) points in their country’s history are affected by the use of certain master narratives.

My passion for understanding historical trauma developed early on while studying at Duke University. I designed my major, focusing on narrative, human rights, and Latin America. After analyzing declassified CIA documents from the 1970s, I questioned my knowledge of U.S. history as I realized how little I knew about the U.S.’s support for the rise of dictatorships in South America. Disturbed, I began to think about gaps in my history education. I wanted to understand how students learn (or did not learn) about the hidden histories of their countries.

I chose to explore the topic of traumatic history education during my semester abroad in Argentina, a former U.S.-backed regime. In three months of fieldwork, I interviewed and observed twenty education directors, guides,
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As an Americorps volunteer serving students from traditionally oppressed communities, I have begun to understand the importance of narrating historical trauma in a new light. In my advising role, I help students find the story that could convince a university to admit them—something that many low-income, at-risk students do not know how to do. Their lives are often deeply intertwined with some aspect of historical trauma. Given the rise of historical negationism, students need to know the importance of speaking out about such histories, now more than
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