by Zac Wong, (YES 2018-2019, Malaysia, hosted by PAX in Indianapolis, IN)
February is Black History Month in the U.S. It is a month to encourage people in the States to learn and cherish black history. During these few weeks, I learned a lot about America’s history, especially regarding slavery, and how it relates to the present, making my exchange journey more real and meaningful. I enjoyed getting to know more prominent American leaders and activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass.
The most interesting thing is that I was given a chance by the Creative Writing Club of Franklin Central High School to help set up a student-led exhibit about Frederick Douglass and slavery. During the preparation, I made more new friends and learned so much, which made me realize the importance of peace and why we must keep on fighting to bring justice to every single inch of the earth. The materials for the exhibition were some tremendously amazing work by some of the club members, such as a portrait of Frederick Douglass, the underground railroad, wooden carriages, etc.
With help from the main sponsor of the club, Mrs. Laker, and our hard work, the event was a huge success. During the event, which was held at the Franklin Central Media Center, we had the chance to meet the Indiana Poet Laureate, Adrian Matejka, and hear him recite one of his poems. We also met the Mayor of Indianapolis, Mr. Joe Hogsett. Using this opportunity, I seized the moment to talk to the mayor and poet and managed to obtain a lot of input from them, especially on black history. When they learned I was an exchange student, they were kind of amazed by my spirit to learn about their history. Many students and members of the local community attended the event. Even though it was a small-scale event, we felt we had succeeded in demonstrating the importance of remembering our past, so that history wouldn’t repeat.