Humanities Moments

Humanities Moments

We’ve all had “humanities moments” — when our lives were made richer, more poignant, and meaningful because of the insights the humanities provide.

Browse Items (11 total)

by Madison Forrest, 18, student
It couldn't happen to me
This past year my aunt, my mother's sister, passed away very young at age 45. Her passing devastated my family and I. The thought that kept entering my head was there's no way this could happen to me. Tragedies, catastrophes, and other huge losses have never affected me so directly. Then, in one of my English classes we began to read a book Beyond Katrina, which detailed the destruction of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reading about these people who lost so many family members so suddenly and so young just broke my heart in…

by Natalie Huebel, 22 years old and a student at Texas A&M University.
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Due to the oil and gas industry plummeting in 2016, my dad lost his job that he had for over 30 years, right before I was about to leave for college. I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and anxiety for the duration of that summer. In addition to this, I was unhealthily dwelling on all the new transitions that were to shortly come. Having to live on my own, find a new group of friends, and ultimately, adjust to the course load that university was going to demand of me were all weighing heavy on my mind.

by Teresa Kim, History teacher in Vista, California
How to Get U.S. Citizenship (2nd edition)
When I was 8 years old, I found hidden in a drawer a little, brown book. It was a well-worn copy of, "How to Get U.S. Citizenship," which my mother had used to prepare for her U.S. citizenship exam. When I asked her about it, she explained that it was one of the items packed into her small suitcase along with a few articles of carefully selected clothing, photographs, and jewelry that would be the only things that would remind her of the life she had lived in Korea. As I glanced through the pages, I thought about my mother as a young…

by Zachary Fine, 19, Student
Lonestar.jpg
I was around seven years old. My dad and I were in the car when the song came on. "My Front Porch Looking In" by the band Lonestar was my favorite song and I knew every word. I loved singing the song at the top of my lungs every time it came on. Today though, I stayed quiet. I had just witnessed yet another argument between my parents and my dad had taken me for a drive around town to cool off. He looked over at me with a confused expression when he saw I wasn't singing. All of a sudden he started singing the song as loud as possible and…

by My Dad
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My humanities moment happened a few days ago when I was talking to my father about college at a Mexican Restaurant. He talked to me about how lucky I was to be graduating high school and going to college in the fall. I didn't understand why it was such a big deal until he explained to me that since I'm adopted, I'm most likely the only one within my biological family to be going to college. It made me realize that many people didn't have the opportunities I have to go to a performing arts school and attend college. One of my closest friends…

by The POC lives that were lost and impacted to share
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Growing up as a light skin slightly racially ambiguous black girl I never really experienced true discrimination. It took the violence toward POC to open my eyes and realize that racism isn't dead its just been lurking in the underbelly of our society. There have been several shows to come out discussing this difficult topic of race and privilege and these made me think about how hard it would be to live in a black mans shoes. How everyday can prove to be a new struggle possibly facing violence or various forms of discrimination. Being around…

by George Takei, actor, author, director, activist
Japanese internment detainees
Actor, author, director, and activist George Takei recalls his family’s resilience and ability to find joy, beauty, and love in simple treasures while imprisoned in Japanese internment camps in the 1940s. He notes that the humanities remind us that we are better than war and destruction and together are capable of bettering society.To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the…

by Scott Gartlan, Executive Director, Charlotte Teachers Institute
Arthur Miller
In this video, Scott Gartlan discusses his reaction to seeing Arthur Miller’s 1947 play All My Sons and seeing deep connections between the play’s narrative and his own life story. He goes on to reflect on the power of storytelling to bridge generations and personal circumstances.Witnessing the performance of Miller’s play was a “flashbulb moment” that deepened Gartlan’s appreciation of “what art can do in representing life.”

by Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker
Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker
In this video submission, Ken Burns recounts how formative experiences, both deeply personal and as a young person growing up in the midst of the Civil Rights era, have shaped his perspective on American history and have informed nearly all his documentary projects.

Trying to make sense of his own individual story within the nation’s collective reckoning with race, Burns reflects on how “we human beings seek always to find some frame to understand things.” The humanities, he continues, facilitate our finding “some meaning in it all…

by Kevin Guthrie, founder/president, ITHAKA
Ulysses and the Sirens, illustration from an antique Greek vase
About seven months ago, our son was in a tragic ski accident, and was in a coma for close to a month. And during that really painful time, we didn’t know what was going to happen. Was he ever going to wake up? Was he not going to wake up? I, myself, couldn’t sleep and I was haunted all the time by thoughts of what might happen to him in the future, and how did this happen, and thinking about the past. And I remember thinking in one of those late-night moments about “The Odyssey” and about the description of the sirens on the banks. Of…

by Ina Dixon, History United
Battle of the Bulge
Ina Dixon explains how a letter from her grandfather to her grandmother, written just before the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, reconnects her to her grandfather and the hardships he suffered at the time.Below is a transcription of Ina Dixon's Humanities Moment: Andy Mink: My name is Andy Mink. I'm the Vice President of Education at the National Humanities Center. I'm with Ina Dixon, who is the Program Coordinator at History United, which is part of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and located in Danville,…
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