History and Politics Personal Statement
I was exposed to history and politics before I knew what they meant. As a second generation immigrant from China, dinner table conversations with family friends inevitably seemed to stray to the impact Mao and Deng’s policies have had on modern China. Studying history in school cemented my fascination with the two intricately interconnected topics, which are, for me, an ideal way to understand the world around me.
My love for history started as an academic pursuit but has since grown to become a personal obsession. A turning point was when I visited Normandy on the 68th anniversary of D-Day as part of a school trip and had the good fortune of speaking to a veteran there. It struck me how history affected the lives of individuals that we would otherwise see as insignificant, and kindled a passion for history that inspired me to pursue it at a higher level. Picking up Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order and Kissinger’s World Order began my fascination with political systems. As someone intricately connected to Singapore’s semi-democracy and China’s authoritarianism, examining how different systems suit certain cultures has been one of my preoccupations. Growing up, my father’s stories of Deng’s harsh suppression of the Tiananmen protestors horrified me, but by comparing China with similar empires in the past, I have come to believe that a strong centralized government is necessary in China. Understanding the past is crucial to understanding current world affairs and societies, and is my main motivation in studying history and politics.
Academics at the A-Level have prepared me for studying history and politics at a higher level. Studying history has taught me to craft cogent and consistent arguments based on interpreting historical sources while studying Southeast Asian history, a comparative paper, has deepened my understanding of identifying and comparing trends across countries. Analysing how the English Literature texts we studied were influenced by their era, especially by contrasting works written at the beginning and the end of the Victorian period, has reaffirmed my decision to study history and politics through understanding how everyone, to some degree, is influenced by the socio-political contexts of their time. Economics is another personal area of interest, and it has been fascinating to see how the economic decisions of leaders are oft influenced by their political contexts.
As an active member and editor of my school’s journalism society, I have been honoured to interview several key members of Singapore’s government and civil service, including a Senior Minister of State and eminent Professor Tommy Koh, allowing me to have unique insights into Singapore’s politics and governance. Writing for our publications has helped me find my voice and made me more comfortable with sharing my views on national issues. I have also been heavily involved in fundraising and advocacy activities. Our team, working with EmancipAsia, wrote, directed, and managed a play to raise awareness for human trafficking in Singapore, and have raised funds for various organizations through busking and concerts. The various activities I have spearheaded or participated in have taught me how to manage my time prudently and given me valuable interpersonal skills.
Having lived in both Singapore and China, I look forward to an opportunity to broadening my perspectives in the UK through understanding and participating in its vastly different norms from both these countries. I am particularly interested in examining the Westminster parliamentary system (upon which Singapore’s democratic model is based), and I would be honoured to experience its culture in my pursuit of these subjects at a university level.