Evile Places Sixth at NHD National Competition

Jacob Nakasone, Reporter

  Senior Haley Evile traveled to Washington D.C. in June 2018 to compete in the national competition for National History Day (NHD). NHD is a year-long academic program that engages students in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. The program is notorious for improving student’s critical thinking skills, researching ability and presentation confidence. The national contest was held on June 10 to 14 at the University of Maryland and students from all over the U.S., China, Korea and Singapore participated. While at the competition Evile showcased her documentary: The Delano Grape Strike: Unification through Conflict, Amelioration by Compromise, and earned sixth place.

    “(My project) was about Filipino farmers in California and it was a joint farmer movement with Mexican workers, and it ended up getting farmers their first labor contracts. So it was a big deal because of the Filipinos in it and because I’m Filipino, it was something that I did to connect with my culture. A lot of the times there wasn’t much that Filipinos did in history, so it was something that Filipinos did that had really big significance which is why I chose to expand on it in my project,” said Evile.

    NHD projects can be presented in five different ways — documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances and websites. Students must compete at the state level before moving onto the national level. “I started it in the summer so, July (2017). I wrote my paper and when school started, I decided to do the documentary because I’ve never done a documentary before so I was like, ‘this sounds fun.’ (And) I did it, and it went pretty well,” said Evile.  

    The topic of the Delano Grape Strike was used by other students at nationals — to stand out amongst the crowd, Evile instilled a unique view into her documentary. “The Delano Grape Strike is known as a Mexican farmer’s movement because the president was Cesar Chavez and he’s a big figure but Larry Itliong which was the vice president didn’t get as much recognition. And the Filipino Farmers were the ones who started the strike but they were losing the strike which was the reason why they joined up with the Mexicans, so because the Mexicans were kinda the turning point, they’re more so viewed as the people doing the strike more so than the Filipinos. But I focused more on the Filipino aspect of it.”

    Due to her unique view on the topic, Evile faced many hardships when it came to preparing her documentary. “Finding sources was a challenge because like I’ve said before, it was primarily a Mexican movement, but I wanted to focus on the Filipino side, so it was hard. I couldn’t find first person interviews or primary sources so to overcome those (challenges), I had to do a lot of secondary research and draw connections on my own,” said Evile. “I had to look through (it) a lot and from there it was just finding clips on youtubes, photos from different archives, and putting it all together.”

   Due to the competitiveness of the competition, when Evile placed it came as a surprise. “I didn’t think I was gonna make it as a finalist cause they do ‘everybody goes’ and it was a lot of people. It was one (judge) per room and there was 10 people per room so I moved on and and I did it again. When I found out the ranking, I was really happy and surprised because someone else did the same project and they focused on the Mexican perspective. So that was one thing that I thought, ‘oh, they’re doing the same thing but mines less known so it might not be as good, but it worked out, so it was nice.”

    Through her experience with NHD, Evile walked away with more than just a sixth place win. “When you see how many people that are in love with history and are so passionate about history, it makes you appreciate not only the people around you but history in general. You see how the past affects us today and it’s a big deal,” said Evile.

    As for advice for students looking to compete in NHD at the national level, Evile offered some words of encouragement. “When looking for a topic, make sure to choose something that you’re really passionate about. If you’re passionate about it, when you’re researching you’ll want to go more in depth and when you go more in depth, your projects becomes more than just a standard project.”

    The 2018 NHD National Contest marked the end of Evile’s involvement with NHD. She plans to spend time working on her Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Capstone project.