Exploring Contemporary Life Narratives

Zoey Gray for ASTU 100A G01

Exploring Contemporary Life Narratives

“Everything depends on upbringing.”  —Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

My name is Zoey Gray, and my life narrative would begin like this: I was raised in Surrey, B.C. I am a curious individual by nature, but it is thanks to my parents that I am who I am today. Growing up, I was lucky enough to experience cultural practices from both my father’s caucasian side and my mother’s Filipino side. This has instilled in me my appreciation for diversity and my desire for knowledge, and these have brought me here. People and their stories are what interest me most – I am driven to learn about how their experiences dictate their thoughts and actions.

My interests have drawn me to the Global Citizens stream of the Co-ordinated Arts Program, where I will have the opportunity to study people and society in a socio-historical context while developing my critical thinking and writing skills. As I begin my studies at UBC, my goal is to deepen my understanding of the world so that I may formulate educated opinions, transform my opinions into solutions, and put these solutions into real-life applications. Currently, I am exploring the fields of psychology, political science, and international relations as potential majors for myself, and ultimately I hope to find a career in which I can contribute to positive societal change.

Sir Nicholas Winton, pictured here during World War II with one of his rescued Czechoslovakian children.

Winton, pictured here during World War II with a rescued Czechoslovakian child.

A notable contributor to positive change is Sir Nicholas Winton, whose efforts during World War II saved 669 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi concentration camps. His impact is illustrated in this incredibly moving clip from 1988, where many of the children saved by Winton pay their respects to him. As we study life narratives in ASTU 100, it is Sir Nicholas Winton and others like him who drive me to ask questions such as, “How can one person make such a global impact?”

Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi party, pictured here with a young child during World War II.

Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi party, pictured here with a young child during World War II.

The opposite end of the spectrum raises yet more questions for me. For instance, there is the infamous Adolf Hitler, whose influential leadership resulted in the deaths of millions. Drawing connections and identifying differences between the lives of Hitler and Winton lead me to ask questions like, “How do our life experiences shape the kinds of impacts we make?” 

It is my hope that throughout the year I will have the chance to find answers to these questions, and to discover ways in which I can make my own impact.


Additional Sources: Sir Nicholas Winton

Image Sources: (1) Post Gazette (2) Google Images




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