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Humans of Harker: Serena Lu strives to uncover truth

%22For+the+longest+time%2C+a+really+big+fear+that+I+had+is+that+there+would+just+be+something+in+our+general+education+curriculum+that+was+wrong+that+we%27ve+always+been+taught+that+way+and+I+will+just+never+know+it+was+wrong+for+as+long+as+I+live+and+for+my+entire+life+I+would+just+never+know+that+what+we+learned+was+wrong%2C%22+Serena+Lu+%2812%29+said.+%22And+this+has+happened+for+a+lot+of+the+things+I%27ve+learned.+I+guess+I+hope+that+if+at+least+one+of+my+long+winded+rants+in+some+class+has+ever+changed+someone%27s+mind%2C+I+guess+that%27d+be+enough.%22

"For the longest time, a really big fear that I had is that there would just be something in our general education curriculum that was wrong that we've always been taught that way and I will just never know it was wrong for as long as I live and for my entire life I would just never know that what we learned was wrong," Serena Lu (12) said. "And this has happened for a lot of the things I've learned. I guess I hope that if at least one of my long winded rants in some class has ever changed someone's mind, I guess that'd be enough."

Kathy Fang

Kathy Fang

"For the longest time, a really big fear that I had is that there would just be something in our general education curriculum that was wrong that we've always been taught that way and I will just never know it was wrong for as long as I live and for my entire life I would just never know that what we learned was wrong," Serena Lu (12) said. "And this has happened for a lot of the things I've learned. I guess I hope that if at least one of my long winded rants in some class has ever changed someone's mind, I guess that'd be enough."

by Kathy Fang, Photo Editor

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Thanksgiving—what images and memories does that holiday bring to mind? Pilgrims, perhaps, or turkey stickers and red paper leaves. Maybe even snippets of a history lecture on British relations with Native Americans.

For Serena Lu (12), however, Thanksgiving is only another cultural artifact whose reputation in popular culture proves that history can, and will, be distorted by those who have the power to teach it.

“For the longest time, a really big fear that I had is that there would just be something in our general education curriculum that was wrong that we’ve always been taught that way and I will just never know it was wrong for as long as I live,” Serena said.

With her soft voice and calm demeanor, at first glance, Serena hardly seems to be one to challenge authority. Her work as a debater, an artist and a Near Mitra scholar, however, proves otherwise.

“I’m very interested in the idea of truth and how it can be distorted, and I think debate has been a way for me to try to pursue some sort of truth, while my Mitra paper and my latest art shenanigan are ways for me to discuss and unpack how the truth can be distort in ways that are beyond our general comprehension,” she said.

One of her most recent works, entitled “How to Get Away with (mass) Murder,” for example, constitutes of a series of playing cards on which a image and a short phrase work together to allude to the different ways in which crimes such as mass murder can be covered up.

“The text in the cards is somewhat satirical in that it treats you the reader as the person who’s trying to cover up a mass murder, so it does have this element of dark humor to the whole thing.”

Serena’s Near Mitra paper expands on this theme and discusses the post-World War II Japanese textbook system, which consists of a screening process designed to eliminate textbooks that include information on Japan’s war crimes.

“Japan often gets a pretty good [reputation] among most people—I think during the Olympics the NBC commentator said something about how Japan was a great model that South Korea was sure to want to follow and that prompted some huge backlash because Japan had colonized Korea during WWII and had led to some really devastating impacts in the country,” she said. “So many people are unaware of these things that I think it’s important to discuss [them] and not let Japan off the hook necessarily because I think the US plays a shockingly large role in the fact that Japan hasn’t needed to own up to their war crimes in ways that other countries like Germany had to.”

Although the truth often appears to be one half of a black-and-white dichotomy, Serena keeps in mind its endless complexity when working to unravel both past and present-day issues.

“The world isn’t as simple as just two plus two equals four, but there’s a bunch of factors that go on,” she said. “There’s multiplication, there’s parentheses, there’s exponents that you all have to consider when you think about ideas and possible solutions to problems.”

In Emily Chen’s (12) character assessment, Serena is “so stressed that she is chill.”

“She doesn’t freak out about anything,” Emily said. “She’s really dichotomous, because she has that really calm demeanor, but she’s also very passionate about a ton of different things, like ice skating, artistic video games, the State Department — a lot of varied interests that you wouldn’t expect a high schooler to have.”

Serena hopes to affect change through the education system.

“I guess I hope that if at least one of my long winded rants in some class has ever changed someone’s mind, I guess that’d be enough,” she said.

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Humans of Harker: Serena Lu strives to uncover truth