Halley Rose Meslin
I like history. I like watching history documentaries, going to museums, and dressing up in historical garb whenever possible. I even liked the academic disciple enough to take it as a higher-level IB subject, write my extended essay in history, and complete a history minor at my university. As much as I like history, I also love being a historian.
“At the time, referring to myself and my classmates as “historians” was a convenient way to differentiate us from the “geographers”, and fuel a playful rivalry between classes.”
It wasn’t until my first year of the Diploma Programme (DP) that I started thinking of myself as a “historian.” I took other subjects, but never assumed the identity of a mathematician, scientist, or literary scholar. At the time, referring to myself and my classmates as “historians” was a convenient way to differentiate us from the “geographers”, and fuel a playful rivalry between classes. Even then, thinking of myself as a historian became a mental badge of honor. Like an IB sorting hat, I could claim the prestigious title simply because I aspired to it.
“Almost like having a sixth sense, calling yourself a historian gives you permission to be endlessly… engaged with how the world was and how it is today.”
I’ve had a slew of eccentrically brilliant history teachers who inspired me to be a historian. Each one introduced history in creative ways. In middle school I constructed an Egyptian obelisk and reenacted a Salem witch trial. In high school I became an expert (or well-informed freshman) on Genghis Khan, debated the United States Constitution, and recited Wilfred Owen poetry at World War One battlefields.
These interactive elements enlivened the subject for me. They also made me more willing to acquiesce to deskbound work like timed essays and source analysis. The most salient points from these exercises turned out to be, “If you are not annotating, you are not reading,” and, “Do not to start every paragraph with ‘Although’.”
Although history is the study of the past, I have always felt a sense of proactive agency as a historian. Almost like having a sixth sense, calling yourself a historian gives you permission to be endlessly curious, critical of, and most importantly engaged with how the world was and how it is today. There is a weight of responsibility and possibility that comes with interpreting the past from a modern perspective. To do so effectively, you must create an in-between space, just big enough for the historian to inhabit.
Being a historian means you know how to use the tools of the trade: critical thinking, understanding different points of view, analyzing trends, and articulating eloquently. I aim to use these tools everyday to strength my skills and become the best historian I can be.
She is beginning her career as the executive assistant to the owner of SHED, a farm-to-table restaurant and events hub in Healdsburg, California. She is a recent graduate of Indiana University, with degrees in French and environmental & sustainability studies.