The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Students make history at Academica Sinica


On Jan. 16, 15 students visited the renowned research institute, Academia Sinica, and the adjacent National Institute of History and Philology. They had the opportunity to attend a tour and research session with Dr. Jacob Soll, a MacArthur Fellow and a professor at the University of Southern California, was the visiting scholar at Taipei American School in January
There, the students were exposed to Qing dynasty documents, including. various drafts and surviving remnants of imperial edicts made by Emperor Kang Shi. “It’s an incredible opportunity,” says Dr. Soll. “These are world-class archivists and researchers who the students [were] able to interact with.”
The trip was the result of months of back-and-forth communication. Ms. Darby Sinclair, one of the teachers who accompanied the students, says,“We spent a couple of months trying to contact the historians working at Academia Sinica to find the historians working in the archives.” Because very few of the documents were actually documented and researched, Mrs. Sinclair believed that if given permission, the opportunity for high school students to witness such documents would be significant. In fact, Ms. Sinclair says, “There really is nothing in European history that would be this amazing in terms of opportunity because very little of this has been researched or interpreted.”
By visiting the archives, TAS students were not only observing history, but also making history. “No student has ever seen these. They rarely take them out. Because they were written in the 1600s, we were the first young people to see these in 400 years.” Ms. Sinclair says. “I cannot overstate how massive this was.” This is evident in how students approached the project. Brian Lain (‘21) says “So essentially, I joined because I want to experience and learn about history through another aspect that is different from the academic style I am used to. My first impression of him is that he really does have a passion and love towards archival research and investigation. He also uses a lot of humor and analogies to express his indescribable love in this area of study.”
Because of the project’s success, TAS is looking forward to working with the historians at the institute again. Mrs. Sinclair says, “The goal now is to develop an internship program for TAS students, because they were interested in allowing TAS students to continue working in the archives. It is a gold mine for anyone who wants to work with history.”

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