National History Day program puts Shanghai students to the test

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-25 19:08:10

Winston Churchill, Wu Zetian, Catherine the Great, Fidel Castro… This diverse group of historic characters spotted in Shanghai on March 7 were in fact students in costumes taking part in dramatic performances for National History Day.

"Leadership and Legacy in History," the theme of this year's NHD program at Concordia International School, allowed students to choose a leader from any era and area, and from a number of formats and mediums to present their works, including research papers, documentary films and stage performances.

Taking advantage of these flexible parameters, over 300 high school students prepared exhibits on a wide range of notable persons, from Coco Chanel, founder of the eponymous French luxury brand, to Chinese doctor He Fengshan, who helped Jews in Nazi-occupied 1930s' Vienna find safe passage to Shanghai.

"The great strength of the NHD program is in allowing students to choose topics of personal passion," Mark Johnson, an organizer of this year's event, told the Global Times. "Activities like this empower students as historians."

Asked to cite an example, he recalled a student at a previous year's program, themed "Revolution, Reaction, Reform," who wanted to pursue a career as a doctor. The student eventually came up with a topic about the early use of vaccinations in colonial Boston, and how the revolutionary nature of this method clashed with church leaders. "This student's research not only helped to develop his historical thinking skills, but also assisted in deepening his understanding of his future profession," Johnson said.

Sophomore Yiluo Li, whose team won "Best Website" for their portal about Mao Zedong's Long March, said that while the preparation was exhausting, the final result is rewarding. "Our detailed presentation on this interesting period of history, and the enthusiastic response from the audience, makes me feel good," Li said.

Vivian Hou, one of Li's teammates on the winning website, told the Global Times that teamwork and organization was the key to her group's success. "The competition requires us to put all the communication and research skills, critical thinking and problem solving we learn in school to practical use," Hou said.

Mark Johnson says that the top finalists of NHD China will have an opportunity to represent their schools at the National History Day World Finals, held in June at the University of Maryland.

The National History Day program originated in the United States in 1974 and has since expanded into countries across Asia, including China. The theme of next year's event will be "Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History."

Global Times

Awards presentation at this year's National History Day


Students who participated at the NHD event pose with their exhibit.

Photos: Courtesy of Concordia International School


Posted in: Metro Shanghai

blog comments powered by Disqus