What’s Happening in HAPS
Arcadia is well-known for its science programs, but I recently went on a trip with the Historical and Political Studies (HAPS) Department—the sometimes overlooked humanities division that covers majors such as Politics, Government, and Law, International Studies, History, Philosophy, and International Relations. On the trip to Washington, D.C., I not only learned about our national identity through the tour of our capital, but also learned a lot about the department itself.
The trip was led by two HAPS professors: the Honorable Judge Christopher Cerski and Dr. Amy Widestrom. Students from two of the courses they teach gathered for the trip, meeting first at the White House and Lafayette Square.
Our walk through the National Mall was incredibly informative, but also eye-opening. I was recently elected president of the Class of 2024, a leadership position that I was excited to accept, but also one that I knew very little about. Seeing our capital, where our nation’s leaders gather to make important decisions, and learning about its history put a lot of things into perspective. I’m not trying to compare being class president to an actual position in national power, but the sentiment remains the same: We cannot move forward without first looking back.
One of the most poignant and emotional moments on this trip was our visit to the Vietnam and Korean war memorials. We walked, silently, past the names of the many victims. I followed Dr. Widestrom, watching as she trailed her hand down the wall of engraved names. Even with no personal connection to the tragedy, the grief in the air was palpable. Groups of veterans, families of those lost, and complete strangers walked down the memorial with the same look on their faces: loss.
After walking through both memorials, Dr. Widestrom said something that I will never forget: “The Korean War memorial glamorizes battle and the war, but [the Vietnam War memorial] makes you face the consequences.” All of us sat with those words for a moment in the quiet.
Walking the Mall with Judge Cerski and Dr. Widestrom was a truly exceptional experience. Every moment that we stopped and discussed the creation of a monument or the historical significance of the land we stood on was treasured. Even though I have no majors or minors relating to the HAPS department, I felt connected to the program through this trip and hope to join others before I graduate.