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For Kerem K. ’23, Making Classics Trend is All in a Day’s Work

TikToker turns studying into views; Drives 10,000 followers to study Latin

Growing up as part of the YouTube generation, Kerem K. ’23 loved Minecraft and making his own videos. In February 2020, one of his friends suggested his personality might be a good fit for TikTok. Just a few weeks later, the Covid-19 pandemic provided him plenty of free time to explore the platform.

None of his early videos were Latin-focused; instead he focused on historical events or jokes - topics he was interested in and liked talking about. “It was an extremely diverse set of content,” he remembers. “My first-ever viral video, in April 2020, had 22,500 views, so that motivated me.”

Kerem kept creating videos, but by early 2022, he hadn’t seen the growth that some of his fellow content creators were experiencing, so he rebranded a bit. “I realized I needed to create this niche, so I decided to commit myself to a quest,” Kerem says. At the time, he was in Latin 3 Honors.

“I would be asked, ‘Why study a dead language?’ I decided to take the claim literally, and thought, ‘What if i could use my TikTok platform to revive Latin and have it be spoken?’” 

He started teaching idioms and helping people translate general language, and by July 2022 had created a persona of an ancient warrior, complete with a costume. (Technically, it’s just a piece of cloth that he drapes over himself to mimic the look of a toga and a helmet from Amazon. “It’s so low effort that it’s actually funny how low effort it is,” he jokes.)

“I’m seeing my videos have more success, and that comes from being genuine and being an interesting person online,” he says. 

But it’s not just a schtick for Kerem; he has been tracking the number of his followers who sign up for Latin classes (either at school or in a community setting) and who purchase Latin textbooks. More than 10,000 people from March 2022 through March 2023 have confirmed through his profile that they completed one of those actions.

And for Kerem, the material he learns in class is still his best stream of content. He produces two videos per weekday and four or five per weekend day. 

“It’s almost like a study strategy that I have,” he explains. “I take this content and think, ‘How can I make it appealing?’ and it pays off.”

Next year, he’ll attend Brown University to study Classics and International Diplomacy. While he does plan to continue producing TikTok content, his larger plan involves rejuvenating the field of classics, and making it more accessible for people.

“There are more people out here who are interested, if we give it to them in the right format,” Kerem explains. He sees the field as the perfect blend of humanities and STEM, forcing scholars to use critical thinking and analysis skills, but also AI tools to evaluate newly-discovered materials without the risk of damaging them. 

Kerem, who served this year as Hun’s student government class president, knows that his TikTok career won’t last forever, especially if he doesn’t reinvent himself. But he has plans to continue using technology to pursue his goals. 

“In the future, I’ll try longer-form videos, maybe making 11-year-old Kerem’s dreams come true.”

You can follow Kerem on TikTok @kerempele