Video games, Literature, Military History, Journalism, Photography, Movies
April 12, 2017
So I’m going to be spending a sizable chunk of my summer here in RVA as a summer research fellow, and I’d like to tell you a bit about what I’ll be doing.
If you ever get to know me for any considerable amount of time, you’ll eventually be met with a lengthy spiel from me about family history, why it’s important, and what a godsend Ancestry.com is.
Genealogy is a hobby, or perhaps a borderline unhealthy obsession, of mine. I happen to think it’s supremely important that we all have a decent (although, a profound one is preferable) understanding of where we come from, and whom we come from, if we ever hope to really understand ourselves. Plus, it’s just super awesome. Get this — by looking through old records online, I discovered that my own fourth great-grandfather was around my age when he enlisted in the United States Colored Troops and participated in the siege of the city I now live in — Richmond — that helped put Central Virginia back under the banner of the United States.
And that knowledge gave me the reassurance that if he could survive getting shot at by Johnny Rebs, I can probably survive writing my final Romanticism paper.
Anyway, my point is that remembrance is important. Knowing who came before we did is important.
This is, in fact, the logic behind the Race & Racism Project here at the University of Richmond, whose website URL is the very fitting memory.richmond.edu. Its point is simple, I think, but requires a good deal of depth: to document and disseminate the history of race relations here at the university by delving through public records like The Collegian archives and those located in the Library of Virginia.
The summer fellowship program is pretty great. We’ll be paid for our work, and by the end of the research period, I’ll have earned $4,000. I will have to pay for summer housing, but it’s actually not that much and will be covered by my paycheck.
My research fellowship team, which includes fellow Diarist Corey, will work closely with UntoldRVA, an organization devoted to telling the side of the city’s history that hasn’t received comparatively much attention in the past. Since part of our goal will be to help Richmond’s community better understand itself, we’ll be heading into town a lot.
I’m going to be researching the self-emancipation of enslaved African Americans before the Civil War. Like I said, a lot of this will involve combing through old public records to dig up information. We’ll have to write a weekly blog post about our research, so I’ll try to provide a link to that once it all gets rolling.
It’s shaping up to be a supremely interesting summer, for sure.
And yes, it has occurred to me that this is an About Me and I've neglected to tell you much about me. So I'm from Chesapeake, Virginia, a place just south of Norfolk that's large enough to be a county but isn't because reasons. There's not much to do in Chesapeake other than going for a dip in the Great Dismal Swamp (ill-advised) or head to a neigboring town to hit the beach, and I think that's part of the reason I spent most of my earlier childhood holed up in my room reading books or playing Playstation.
I branched out in my high school years, though, and I've developed affinites for genealogy, running, film, and photography. I am not a man of many talents, though among them include the remarkable power to turn my thumb all the way backwards, the ablility to tell you almost everything you'd ever want to know about the Star Wars Expanded Universe (which unfortunately has been declared non-canon, thanks to J.J. Abrams), and the astonishing skill to cook Minute Rice in 58 seconds. My playlist includes mostly oldies, and my favorite movies all came out before I was born. So you might say I'm a bit of a hipster. I've even got my own snazzy red Polaroid camera, which is practically a license to hipster in this day and age, right?
So, yeah, that's me. In conclusion, read on! Hope you enjoy my blog posts!
Why UR?I'm not a very decisive person. During my senior year of high school, I envied the kids who were certain straight from the get-go where they wanted to go to college. I had applied to several great schools that I thought could offer me a great education, but I had trouble picking which one was the best fit for me. I constantly held debates against myself, weighing the pros and the cons of each school in my head and occasionally and occasionally audibly voicing my concerns a la Gollum: "How about this one?" "No, no, too big. And too far away. Going back and forth to home could prove to be a real bummer." "Good point, but look at their alumni network! They could hook you up with a job fresh out of graduation!" "Ah, true, but check out these student reviews online. You really want to go to a place with this reputation?" "Do you believe everything you read in those reviews?" "Of course I do. They can't put anything on the internet that isn't true." And so on and so on. I still hadn't made a decision by mid-April, so the jury was still out on where I was going just two weeks before the deadline. Pressure from my parents and peers to choose just kept piling on heavier and heavier. Around this time I went to a Richmond Scholars visit, which afforded prospective students who'd been offered scholarships from the University the chance to get a glimpse of life as a student here. The visit was really what sealed the deal for me. The beautiful campus was a joy to explore even in the surprisingly sweltering spring heat. I had the opportunity to sit in on a class, which wasn't very big. Richmond's small class sizes allow for intimate discussions as opposed to drawling lectures and make it rather easy to develop close relationships with professors. I've found that most of them encourage you to meet with them in their spare time, something that might be more difficult to do at a larger institution. While at the Scholars visit, I talked with my host for hours. He gave me a bare bones, down-to-earth explanation of what he thought of Richmond. And I know it's a total cliche, but there's one thing he told me that I really think rings true here at Richmond and life in general: It can be a great and rewarding experience, but only if you put in the effort to make it one. Bottom line, I think Richmond gives students the resources needed to make their college years more than worthwhile, moreso than any other school I checked out. We've got top-notch academics to satisfy any hungry mind, we've got a plethora of extracurriculars to enjoy, tons of chances to broaden our horizons (literally and figuratively), and of course, we've got the chow at D-Hall. All that's really what made me want to spend the next four years of my life here.