History & Spanish Personal Statement Example

The concepts of history, language and culture are inextricable. When studying all aspects of history, I have found it crucial to contextualise events; nothing does this as profoundly as languages do. With the taking up of Spanish study, I hope to broaden the diversity of my knowledge, reaching beyond the history I have been taught until now.

One of my areas of interest is the effects of colonisation, which both Britain and Spain were significantly involved in. Participating in the 2021 NCH Humanities Essay Competition gave me an opportunity to study this topic in greater depth. In my highly commended essay, I argued for the repatriation of cultural artefacts to former colonies. Expanding my focus beyond the curriculum allowed me to investigate my heritage, which lies in the former Kingdom of Benin. I take the stance that the West needs to take definitive action if the wounds of colonialism are ever to be healed. Both Britain and Spain are powerful, modern nations with a colonial past that must be examined and the best means to do this is in these two colonial languages.

I also take interest in how the ideology of the American Dream contrasted with the reality of inequality, particularly for ethnic minorities. I read Wil Haygood’s ‘The Butler’, a biography of Eugene Allen and it was valuable to see the experience of a black man working in the White House. He witnessed the fight for civil rights and later saw history being made at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It is often said that it is necessary to know history to understand the present, so it was enlightening to read a real account of a person who saw how events of the past impacted his own story.

Taking part in the German Exchange twice in lower school, gave me my first chance to interact with others in a foreign language and experience the rich culture. Since Ianguage is the instrument that we use to express ourselves as human, the ability to speak multiple languages gives us access to the psychology of people. I am especially keen to take up Spanish as I believe that language learning not only broadens our knowledge but also our understanding of others. More recently during lockdown, I explored the world of foreign language television, watching shows from Spain and Latin American countries, like Mexico. I became fascinated by the Spanish language, due to its widespread impact on the world. There are numerous cultures associated with it and so I hope to study this diverse language at university.

By studying Latin at GCSE and A Level, I have been able to appreciate the origins of modern languages and literature. I am reading the Cupid and Psyche story in Apuleius’ ‘Metamorphoses’. I find it interesting how it has influenced the fairy tales we know today. For example, the evil stepmother trope, found in stories like Cinderella and Snow White, can be directly linked to Venus (Cupid’s mother). Though Latin is often considered to be a ‘dead’ language, its impact is still alive today. My background in Latin will facilitate me in the learning of Spanish.

I have played for my school netball team since 2015, gaining the captaincy in year 11. By rising to this opportunity, I became more confident, and my leadership skills evolved. Juggling school and extracurricular activities has also helped to develop my organisational skills. As an involved member of my school’s African-Caribbean Society, I wrote an article for its magazine about afro-textured hair. I aim to educate fellow students about black topics to allow for a more accepting school community.

History allows us to draw parallels between the present and the past and process the effect of prior events on today’s world. Extending my understanding of Spanish expands the arsenal with which I can explore these effects further.

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