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Callie Hoon – Post Concord Review

Feb 7, 2014 by

An Interview with Callie Hoon- Post Concord Review

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) Callie, first of all can you tell us about yourself and what you are currently doing ?

I am a junior at Deerfield Academy. I love history, art history, and English. I have taken many humanities classes over the years, and I am now studying Honors European History, Honors Economics, and Creative Nonfiction. I first developed a passion for history after my first year in high school and visiting historical sites across several continents. Furthermore, I am an Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar with Distinction, being one of only a handful of students in New England for my grade level. In fact, I have taken the most AP subjects of any student from my grade level at my high school.

2) A while back, as I understand, you published in The Concord Review- what was your topic ?

My research paper on how the 1986 Chernobyl disaster catalyzed the fall of the Soviet Union was published in the Summer 2013 issue of The Concord Review. The disaster was a devastating nuclear meltdown in Ukraine, releasing 50 times the radiation liberated by the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By ratcheting up glasnost, perestroika, demilitarization, and concern for citizen welfare, the disaster eradicated the Soviet Union’s foundation and accelerated its collapse. My essay intimated that the rapid implosion of communism in the Soviet Union—in contrast to the gradual dissolution in China—resulted its political system’s demise.

3) How long did you take in terms of writing and researching your topic?

I researched and wrote my paper in the summer prior to its publication. For the research, I spent a week and a half identifying primary and secondary sources from libraries and book stores, and another week and a half locating from the Internet. I consulted more than 200 books, theses, journals, papers, newspapers, magazines, bulletins, reports, transcripts, and encyclopedias, out of which more than 80 were cited in the bibliography. For the writing, I spent a week and a half working on the first draft of the essay, another week finishing the second, and half a week more completing the third.

4) What motivated you to investigate that topic?

Way back in elementary school, I accessed the web-site http://www.kiddofspeed.com/ set up by Ukrainian motorcyclist and photographer Elena Filatova. It had photographs and text detailing the sights and sounds—derelict buildings with unread mail and peeling paint, protective barks of feral dogs and tractor sounds of defiant citizens—of the abandoned city in her part of the world. My particular curiosity about the disaster that resulted in the permanent evacuation from Chernobyl was always at the back of my mind. To the eleven-year-old me, behind the unadorned pictures and literal descriptions lay an enigma for me to uncover four years later.

5) Who supported you in this endeavor? Or encouraged you?

My parents supported me in this endeavor. My father arranged for 50 documents from the Soviet Union’s Committee for State Security (KGB) that were recently declassified to be translated from Russian to English professionally by East View Information Services, which was arguably the best company for Russian-to-English translation. My mother drove me to eight libraries and book stores to borrow and buy books respectively. My parents bounced ideas with me over the dining table across the entire life cycle from researching through outlining to writing. They shared with me their understanding of communism, Soviet Union, and China, and encouraged me to write an outstanding research paper.

6) As a student in the schools- do you feel challenged, supported, encouraged?

Honors European History is my high school’s most rigorous course in history. It is expected to give me the opportunity to write a research paper of 15 pages, where I would be able to strengthen my grounding in research skills. Although the writing of my paper on the Chernobyl disaster developed my research skills, required my reading of numerous books, and generated my essay that was more than one-and-a-half times as long as the 15 pages, I appreciate the courage of my teacher Mr. Ramesh Rajballie to challenge my classmates and me in this course.

7) How has the occasion of getting published in the Concord Review helped you ?

The occasion of getting my research paper on the Chernobyl disaster published in The Concord Review represented the highest achievement in my life to date. The Review is the most prestigious international journal in humanities for high school. I wrote my essay as an independent study in the summer after the first of my four years at high school, resulting in my being one of the youngest authors of papers in the Review. Being published in the Review demonstrated my strong skills in research and writing at the college level. They proved my potential to succeed in any career that I choose to pursue. I see having my essay published in the Review as a life-changing event. I appreciate very much what the Review has done for me.

8) What have I neglected to ask?

I would like to help the cause of The Concord Review as much as possible by becoming its greatest ambassador. For creating and developing an academic journal with no cap on the length of the research papers published, its founding editor Mr. Will Fitzhugh has my immense admiration. I sympathize with him on the uncertain sustainability of the Review and the relevance of the history research paper. In fact, I would like to help to design and possibly teach a year-long course in independent study of history for high schools that would result in a research paper for submission to the Review.

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