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Teacher's Comment :

Han Yuna - An Inside Perspective - Cinematic Representation of the Soviet Society during the Thaw



Han Yuna is an extraordinary student, of Korean parentage, with U.S. citizenship, and at home in both cultures/languages. While in her 10th grade, she took AP European History and AP English Literature, scoring 5 in both tests. She was a student I wondered what to teach to once she would reach her high school senior year - except for cooking, that is. Even in a class of native English speakers, Yuna would be counted among the more sensitive, talented writers. In discussions she is so actively involved that the teacher has to take measures to ensure that the more subdued students get an opportunity to express their opinion.
Once, after having watched a historical movie, she expressed her interest in movies featuring communist society from a Russian perspective - the movies featuring the USSR generally accessible in western society are mostly prejudiced by the Cold War atmosphere. Her interest evolved into a research project. The topic permitted Yuna to combine her interests in literature and history. After a selection of Russian movies with English subtitles was procured, it took her about 2 months to do her research, based on our school library and on sources available on the internet, and write her paper. The topic requires historical understanding of Soviet society way beyond the level which can be dealt with in a one-year AP European History course. She was fortunate not having to go through bibliographic research, as our library has a decent number of books on Soviet history; this saved her time. Yuna began with a stock of nine Soviet movies and, during the process of her project, narrowed her primary source basis down to two. Nine movies might not have sufficed to provide a detailed analysis of Soviet cinematic history beyond an encyclopedic level, and an analysis at an encyclopedic level might easily be found. By narrowing down her topic to the thaw period she was able to reach a deeper level of analysis, to form an independent opinion. Her paper satisfies the criteria for a university seminar presentation, and she wrote it in a time span appropriate for such papers.

Han Yuna has been awarded the Samsung Scholarship and has been accepted by Harvard University in early admission.


January 6th 2006

Alexander Ganse



Han Yuna An Inside Perspective - Cinematic Representation of the Soviet Society during the Thaw