My mom left England for the United States with barely any money. She was a nanny for families in Beverly Hills.

My dad left England and arrived in the States before the Internet had made everyone an expert on everything. He and his friends would pretend to be members of the different British football clubs to cut the lines and get free drinks at clubs and bars.

My Nanny, my dad's mother, and her five brothers and sisters were evacuated from London during World War II and sent to live with families in the countryside.

She never knew her actual mother enough to truly love her.

My best friend's grandmother, or "Baba" as she is known to all her legitimate and honorary grandchildren, arrived in New York City from Croatia when she was 15, moving in with a father she hadn't seen since she was very young. She became a seamstress on Fifth Avenue for celebrities and socialites of the time.

How is it possible that I never knew anything about all the people I love more than anything? This month, I've been amazed by history.

At Emerson College, freshmen are required to take Introduction to Research Writing during second semester. It's a part of the first-year writing program that every student participates in, regardless of major or concentration.

Just the title of the class makes it sound like a tireless drag through old library archives, and, I can assure you, none of us was looking forward to it. There's something about the word "research" that just screams "YOU WILL BE BORED," or so I thought.


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Instead, I've been in disbelief at all I thought I knew, but really didn't have a clue, or embarrassed even that I hadn't taken the time to ask questions, to find out much sooner.

The research projects we've been assigned so far have given me that opportunity. While others are choosing to research famous artists or philanthropists they admire, I've decided to stay closer to home.

My first project was a narrated biography. After asking all the right questions, I wanted to write about my mom. I wanted to write about my dad. I wanted to write about my friend's parents. I wanted to write about my grandparents and my friend's grandparents.

Everyone has such a unique and interesting story. I wanted my classmates to hear every one of them. I wanted everyone I loved to know how important and incredible and valuable his or her stories were.

I ended up writing about all of them.

The assignment I am currently working on is a profile on south Torrance and Redondo Beach, the history of these areas and the beach culture that inhabits the border of these two cities. Along with that, I'm branching out to profile four or five kids who have grown up surfing and been raised by this culture.

I'm in the middle of reading a book titled "Images of America: Redondo Beach Pier" by Jennifer Krintz. I was blown away by the images and information it contains. I've spent every summer I can remember walking around the pier, getting dinner there or playing overpriced games at the Fun Factory, but I never knew it used to house a giant roller-coaster that was destroyed in a storm in 1915. I never knew about the massive bathhouse or the popular vacation spot: Hotel Redondo.

My first question was a shocked, "How?" But the immediate and obvious answer is, "How would I have possibly known when I've never taken the time to find out?"

Introduction to Research Writing is now my favorite way to spend my Monday and Wednesday nights. I've learned to not be so quick to judge a class by my predetermined opinion of it. And more than anything, I've realized research is necessary and questions need to be asked. I deserve to know as much as I can about the people and places I love while they are still here and they deserve for their stories to be honored.

I owe it to them.


Victoria Hulbert, a graduate of South High School in Torrance, writes every other Monday about her first year at Emerson College in Boston. She can be reached at victoriahulbert@verizon.net.