Sebastian Horton has always dreamed of visiting California. Growing up in Penzance, Cornwall, England, he’d imagine a land of sunshine and balmy temperatures, a place where he could surf and skateboard to his heart’s content.
The 22-year-old finally made his California wishes come true, but the purpose for his trip is much more significant than he’d initially imagined.
Horton — a third year student at Cambridge University — is visiting Nevada County in order to conduct extensive research for his dissertation which will be presented in April. The topic of the project will be Cornish mine workers who ascended to positions of social and political influence.
“One thing would be the Cornish — kind of seeing how they rose up through the ranks,” Horton explained. “It’s the idea of the American dream. In Cornwall, if you were born in the poorest area you’re going to stay in the poorest area. You aren’t going to become mayor of London or prime minister. But you could do it here in this new world situation.”
Horton chose Nevada County because of its rich Cornish history and dense population of Cornish descendants. His home town of Penzance is sister cities with Nevada City, which piqued his interest.