Below is the first in a series of blog posts by Kentucky National History Day student Hellary Zhang about her experience participating in the program. For more about the Kentucky Junior Historical Society and how to participate in NHD, visit www.history.ky.gov/kjhs.
I was initially drawn to the National History Day (NHD) program because I felt that it was a departure from what I was learning in my AP World History class. To me, AP World History was essentially the cramming of 10,000 years of history in two semesters. Even though history had always been one of my favorite subjects, the daunting curriculum was enough to make my head spin. I not only had to memorize significant people and events, but I also had to be able to analyze each event’s causes and effects. I had to recognize changes and continuities spanning different periods of history and different continents of the world.
NHD was different in that I could pick any topic (as long as it fit the theme, of course) and truly go in depth with my research and understanding. I was no longer attempting to understand sweeping generalizations and trends, but was pursuing a deeper understanding of a single phenomenon. I had months to thoroughly research my topic, as well as the historical context surrounding it. By the time I put my project together, I had a mental map of the causes, occurrences, and effects of the topic I had studied. To me, NHD was another way in which I could pursue my interest in history, as well as challenge myself in a more engaging activity than my day-to-day coursework.
Hellary Zhang, Junior, duPont Manual High School.