Anthropology Personal Statement
Completing my sixth form education at a multicultural boarding school has allowed me to experience a wide social and cultural diversity that I never would have expected in a school environment, in great contrast to the subtle ethnocentrism of my previous schooling. This further inspired me to learn more about people and the ways in which we live. It became an eye-opening experience that has stimulated me to pursue formal study of people, their cultures and how we all became so different. My underlying interest in Anthropology has grown greatly since. My appetite was whetted by my A-level Biology and Physical Education courses. In Biology, I have considered aspects of the Nature vs Nurture argument for human behaviour. Do we behave the way we do due to our genes or our socialisation? I read articles within class which exhibit evidence to suggest that genetic involvement has a much greater effect on our behaviour than I would have once believed. By considering the genetic make up of different animals in comparison to humans and comparing our behaviour, important links can be seen between each species and us. This has made me question whether being "human" is defined by our environment developing our behaviour through living, or whether it is predetermined by our biological evolution. It has made me question whether I am more inclined to believe what I have learned through GCSE Sociology or A-level Biology. In the study of PE, within the Social-Cultural unit, I learnt about the effect of the evolution of our society on the way we interact with each other. I found the comparison of British society before and after the industrial revolution of particular interest. I have seen how changing aspects of society, for example, the production of exports, can have a large effect on the way the entire society can continue to exist. We also studied the effect of British Society on American and Australian society. My interest led me to investigate further by reading "Return To Laughter- An Anthropological Novel" by Elenore Smith Bowen, in which the author undertook participant observation within the African Tiv tribe. This gave me an insight into African cultures and how they differ from our own, but also how we can draw some conclusions. Amongst other reading, I have enjoyed works ranging from Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" to Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go", both of which made me question what it means to be human. Is it in our personality, our pride and our name or in our theologies? They have allowed me to think deeply about how we interact with people from different origins and classes. "The Crucible" gave me insight into European religion that had spread to America. I found it interesting to see how power is divided in different societies, for example, the largest proportions of power within the community in Salem were given to members of the church, whereas, in modern Britain, power is given to members of government through election. To further my understanding of the different aspects of societies and culture, I have been reading "Small Places, Large Issues" by Thomas Eriksen, as well as "Why Humans Have Cultures" by Michael Carrithers. I have also benefited widely from extra-curricular activities. As part of the World Cinema Club, I viewed many films from different countries, primarily western societies. my ballet classes have allowed me to develop a strong work ethic (I took grade 8 in November) as well as an understanding of european cultures through dance and fashion. During my last year at Highsted, I was sports captain to my house and a member of the school council. I have decided to take a gap year, during which I intend to volunteer with the Kent Refugee Action Network, teaching English and undertaking campaigning. I hope to gain experience working with a charity, an area that is a potential career path. I also hope that this will develop my knowledge of other cultures and further my interests in Anthropology.