Emily Smith Profile

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London, for Emily Smith, quickly became a home away from home. Between working on her research project and exploring London, she never had time to be homesick. Outside of her family, the thing she missed most was some good southern sweet tea.

Of course this isn’t her first time traveling abroad. The Arab, Ala. native has also traveled to Italy, Germany, and Austria. The week before her time in London, Emily joined some other UNA students on a separate trip through Brussels and Paris.

Emily is a history and secondary education major at UNA and a 2009 graduate of Arab High School. While most of the history students in the UNA Centre for British Studies (CBS) focus on scholarly work, such as academic papers and research projects, Emily’s project is truly interdisciplinary. Emily is using her time in London to design a two-week lesson plan—complete with activities, lectures, tests and presentations—focusing on British and European perspectives on WWII. She is placing a special emphasis on Winston Churchill and what qualities make him a strong leader. Most of the time in Alabama schools, Emily said, history about WWII is viewed from an American-centered perspective.

Her time in London has given her the opportunity to break out of her old perspective and view history through a different pair of eyes. One of her first glimpses came at the Churchill War Rooms. Here, she was able to explore the world Churchill lived in and learn more about one of history’s most imposing men. During her visit she had a chance encounter with the director of the Churchill War Rooms who gave her a private, guided tour as well as a personal interview.

“Being able to read about it and see it are two completely different things,” Emily said. “I saw so many things I could only see there (Churchill War Rooms): letters between Churchill and his wife… The fact that I got to talk to the director about it and him giving me a private tour—that’s something I could never experience online or by reading about it in a book.”

Even walking around London has broadened her perspective.

“I’ve seen how the city has changed dramatically after the blitz. They used that opportunity to rebuild London,” and the evidence is everywhere, Emily said.

She’s hoping this project and studying abroad will be a huge portfolio booster as well as a growing experience.

“Studying abroad makes you different from someone else. There are so many history teachers. The fact that I’ve actually studied abroad and I’m into the history aspect of it, it really helps.

“This is the first time I’ve really been thinking like a teacher: How can I get them into this and involved and learning more than just the facts about something?”

Her strongest words of advice are: “(Don’t) waste time doing things that you can do at home. Take full advantage of the time you have while you’re here, because it will be over before you know it.”