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2017 National History Day
Written by Clare Sohn | Published. 2020.04.07 14:17 | Count : 99

History is a big part of our world as it encompasses all events that have ever occurred. Every year, an event called “National History Day” is held. It is a competition that is held in two locations, the first round in your home country and the final round in Maryland, DC (United States). For the final round, you must pick a person or event based on the given annual theme which was “Taking a Stand” in 2017.

In 2017, I joined this event thinking it was just part of a school project. In a nutshell, my group’s presentation board had won in my school. So, we were expected to compete in the national round in Korea. There, my group again won first place making us eligible for the finals in the US. This competition is very unique because you represent your country while learning about a specific person from history and sharing it with others participating in the event. National History Day was first held in 1974 to promote historical events among people around the world who share a strong interest in history. Every year, approximately 3,000 participants from over 150 countries compete in the final round making it a big week where people of all nationalities interact with one another and share knowledge on the given theme. Open to ages 12 to 18, the competition is divided into a junior category (ages 12 to 14) and senior category (ages 15 to 18). 

[Preliminary round of National History Day held in Korea. Photo Courtesy of Clare Sohn.]

Prior to this competition, I had competed in many other competitions, but this was my first time competing in this particular event. It was a very special event, as the competitors were divided by country and were expected to share on a topic chosen. I consider this event very patriotic, all of the competitors showed great pride in their respective countries, especially at the opening and closing ceremonies. All throughout the week, we traded the badges of our country with foreigners, and during all of the ceremonies, we were expected to sit in groups by country and walk around together as one. 

The day before the competition, there is an opening ceremony where you can confirm your registration, receive some National History Day “merch,” and take a couple of hours to enjoy some foreign foods, trade pins, and talk with your competitors. This ceremony really gives everyone time to bond, which makes the event seem less competitive, as we all wish each other luck and share what we will be presenting the next day. During this time, everyone is walking around waving the flags of their country or school to show their pride and tries to bring people to come see their exhibit, listen to their podcast, or other such things. When the day of the competition finally arrives, the mood is completely different, as everyone is dressed in formal clothing, ready to present what they have learned. The funniest thing for me was that while everyone else was very tense, my group was completely oblivious, sitting on the floor eating food and avoiding thinking about the fact that we were up soon. 

[All participating countries walking around the stadium. Photo courtesy of Clare Sohn’s mom]

After the competition ended, a closing ceremony was held the following day to show a recap of what happened the day before and present the awards. The unique aspect of this was that each country was expected to take a lap around the basketball court, which was where the event was held, while waving flags. I think that this event was a very memorable one, because not only did my group make it to the finals, but we also learned to handle stress and gained one week of valuable experiences. What really inspired me was when, at the end of the ceremony, a speaker said “Even if a war breaks out, we are all one at the end of the day,” because it clearly expressed how we are all basically the same even though we are from all around the world. 


Clare Sohn
Grade 9
Seoul Foreign School

Clare Sohn  student_reporter@dherald.com

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