Wolfe feels impact of history in everyday life
By Celita Summa
By participating in eighteenth-century reenactments and studying first-hand how to conduct everyday tasks from the period, Caroline Wolfe has learned the value of history in shaping society today.
After she started volunteering at a history museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, Wolfe discovered her passion for delving into the past. Through the museum’s volunteer program, she was introduced to History’s Kids, a group dedicated to teaching secondary students practical skills that would have been essential to daily life in the 1700s.
“Having events to preserve the past is important because history is a part of who you are, even if you don’t know it,” Wolfe said. “Studying history helps society to avoid making the same mistakes we’ve made in the past.”
Three years later, at 17, Wolfe has participated in reenactments ranging from depictions of Revolutionary War battles to traditional eighteenth-century homesteads.
“I’ve learned and practiced skills like cooking, sewing, weaving, dying, and gardening,” Wolfe said. “I know a lot of people don’t normally practice these skills, but they’re important to me because they give me a greater appreciation for all the hard work our ancestors had to put in just to live.”
Learning from such an unusual perspective has opened her eyes to some of the less-reported events of the past. For example, as 2015 came to mark the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, she said she felt it was important to draw attention to the atrocity and its impact on the world today. In 1915, a division emerged in the Ottoman Empire, and some Turks began to view the minority Armenians as a threat, launching a series of systematic killings against the group.
“Oftentimes, people don’t know or care about underreported stories in history,” Wolfe said. “Everyone should know about such a merciless genocide, and learn from the errors of the past.”
Her schoolwork also has aided in shaping her perception of contemporary world affairs. Completing assignments about controversial topics such as the unsuccessful Scottish independence referendum and participating in debates surrounding theistic evolution have provided her with opportunities to learn more about how others think, she said.
“You have to be willing to learn about new things, but it’s not always necessary to accept those new things,” Wolfe said. “You should examine yourself and have strong, well-thought-out reasoning to back up your beliefs, and always be open to challenges and different ideas.”
Using the historical knowledge and life lessons she has acquired as a launching pad, Wolfe hopes to transition into a career either as a journalist or as an immigration lawyer. She said her passion for the careers stems from her love for stories, politics and learning.
“I see in both of these careers an opportunity to help people, and a great way to interact with people from other cultures, such as the Spanish culture, which I am particularly interested in,” Wolfe said.