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PhD student inspires fellow Historians with winning essay

Posted on 17/12/2010

Rachel at Camp Amache in Granada, Colorado

History PhD student Rachel Pistol has won a competition which was set up to motivate students and academics to go out and experience the places that form the context for their studies, in order to enrich both academic learning and environmental awareness.

‘The Bringing the Outside In’ student essay competition was launched as part of History at the Higher Education Academy’s Education for Sustainable Development programme, in association with the English Subject Centre and PALATINE.

Students in UK higher education were invited to write case studies of 500 - 1000 words describing how engagement with outdoor environments has enhanced their learning, and how their learning has affected their attitudes towards the environment.

Rachel wrote about her experience of visiting two of the former Japanese American internment camps earlier this year as part of a Friendly Hand funded research trip. And as well as having her essay published on the History Subject Centre website she was also awarded £250 worth of Amazon or itunes vouchers for her winning submission.

Rachel said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to travel to three of the former Japanese American internment camp sites in America with the Friendly Hand earlier this year and thrilled to have won the 'Bringing the Outside In' competition as a result of my experiences there. The basic premise of the competition really struck a chord with me as I feel historians can gain so much through visiting the sites on which their studies are based. I discovered a new appreciation for the Japanese American internment experience and also had the chance to see how the sites were being used in commemorating the events of the Second World War.”

“The importance of the sites I visited lies in how the message of what happened over sixty years ago is being communicated to individuals today. The lessons of how a democracy could intern loyal citizens solely as a result of their race is a lesson that should never be forgotten,” she added.

Dr Sarah Ansari, Head of the History Department, congratulated Rachel on her essay and thanked the Friendly Hand for making it possible for such research trips to take place. She said: “The department is extremely proud of Rachel's achievement - she is a 100% 'home grown' student - BA, MA and now studying for a PhD at this College - and former president of the Royal Holloway History Society. We would also like to acknowledge the generous funding provided by the Friendly Hand, without which postgraduate students such as Rachel would find it very hard to make the research trips that are essential for their projects.”



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