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History Personal Statement

Growing up a first generation Somali-Norwegian, it was important for my dad, a Somali language teacher, to teach me and my siblings about the history of our family and the history of Somalia. A country he and my mom had fled during the beginning years of the ongoing Civil War. All throughout my childhood this was the only way for me to form a connection to a country i had never been to and a history that makes up an important part of who i am. When i traveled to Somalia for the first time at 14, I visited my parents home villages, historical sites, and relatives I had before then only heard through stories. Conversations with my military grandfather in particular, about colonization and its impact on the country, was especially informative. Hearing about his experience as a soldier in the Ogaden Ethio-Somali border war of 1977, led me to being interested in border disputes between many African countries, and how they often relate back to colonial times. Events such as the Berlin conference, where European powers drew arbritary borders without consideration for ethnic groups and national histories, has had a huge impact on the demographic and ethnographic structure of the continent, and has caused many conflicts.

In my first year of Upper Secondary School, i was a part of the only international class in my school. All of the subjects where taught in English, which highly improved my English language skills. In our weekly class, Meet the World, we talked about different countries and their histories and cultures. Here my interest for history developed into engaging with it outside of school and home. I joined the youth league of the Norwegian Labour Party that same year, and later joined the youth league of the Socialist Left Party, where I have enjoyed going to meetings, partaking in protests and going to summer camps. Leading up to the Norwegian General Election this fall, i was an editor for my county's socialist youth facebook group. My love of history at school made me do a lot of independent research outside of the schools curriculum. Books such as ''What is global history?'' by Sebastian Conrad introduced me to the global aspect of history and introduced me to the concept of methodology. It also introduced me to history as a research field rather than just a teaching field, which made me want to study it at university. It showed me the interconnectedness of world history and how we cannot study nations in isolation. I particularly enjoyed the chapters in the book about the ethics of global history and whether we risk replacing eurocentrism with other isms such as Asiacentrism. Another thing that struck me was the importance of looking at global history with an attention to connections that can help us understand national histories better, rather than as a hegemonic history where national histories are drowned out. Other readings on history have both fueled my curiosity as well as they have improved my analytical and interprative skills. Books such as this have improved my critical thinking and made me reevaluate established ways of thinking because of their constant examination and reflection of the past. As a time effecient and independent person, having lived alone for over a year, studying history at university will help me further imporove these skills useful for a career in law, which i intend to pursue after my undergraduate degree.

I am currently a co-researcher in a research project about user involvement and network mobilization in community-based mental health and substance abuse services. This is with the University College of Southeast Norway, in collaboration with the University of Yale. This experience has given me insight into the research field and prepared me for the intellectually rigiorous task of academia.

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Author's Comments

University College London - accepted
King’s College London - accepted
St. Andrews - accepted
University of Edinburgh - accepted
London School of Economics - not accepted

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