(01/06/2018) Now that the conference has ended I have had some time to reflect on my experience. I had the pleasure of spending two lovely days in Hawaii while attending the Hawaii University Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education Conference. During this time I gave my first presentation in front of professionals on a research paper I wrote during my senior year. The paper focused on an underlying topic I saw throughout many of my philosophy classes through my years studying. This concept was the issue that morals fluctuate and can cause immoral acts to take place due to this fluctuation. This being my first scholarly conference I most certainly learned a lot of new skills and had a new experience that I hope to have more of in the future. Giving my speech made me get out of my comfort zone, and learn how to be professional in presenting my work as well as engaging with other professionals. I will use these skills and connections I made to further my future now that I have graduated from college. During the two days I was able to attend many interesting sessions and learn information that I would have never known about. Through this learning I was able to connect these ideas that were presented with concepts that I had learned in the past, which was an exciting experience. Going to this conference not only allowed me to become more professional, but it also gave me the opportunity to learn so many new things in various disciplines I am so grateful that I got to experience a professional conference and present my research. It was overall a very humbling and crucial experience to top off my undergraduate college career.
Today, January 4, 2018, is my first day at the Hawaii University Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education Conference. I gave my presentation in the first session of the day. In my session there were two other professors from California and Canada presenting. They had extremely interesting research on topics such as trauma and abuse victims and dogs being sources of good therapy and motivation. Giving my presentation was a great new experience, from which I learnt a lot. Before giving my presentation, I had to learn how to reconstruct and shorten my paper so that I could present it within the time, and still make my argument strong and compelling. Practicing how to annunciate and read clearly, were skills that I further refined through preparing for this speech. Today when I gave my speech I learned how to be professional when presenting and putting my nerves aside, as well as answering questions in depth and intellectually. This experience with presenting my own research taught me how to be professional and interact in a professional setting with other professionals. I had the pleasure after giving my presentation to two pprofessors from California, who were impressed by my research and even offered to help me with future endeavors with law school. After my session I had the pleasure of attending another session, in which my professor, Dr. McLaren, was presenting. The session focused on gender issues, and there were presentations on sexual assault in college and the stereotypes of yoga and its effects of women. I was able to learn so much throughout the sessions from many different disciplines. So far this experience has allowed me to grow as an intellectual and professional, which is important since I have graduated college and will be immersing myself in many professional experiences.
The SEPA conference overall was such an enriching experience because it awesome to see and meet so many people passionate about the same subject. Also, it was incredible to see the diversity in the subject of psychology and how people are taking theoretical information and using it to study things from homophobia to using emojis. It definitely inspired me to take political psychology research to a national level and find trends in political behavior and why it happens. Especially in our present political climate being able to understand why people believe what they believe will allow us to possibly become empathetic towards differing opinions. Seeing research not only as a academia requirement but as a necessity to improve society is inspiring and definitely makes me want to research even after my college career. This experience has also shown me that Rollins small liberal arts environment made it a little easier to talk to professors and researchers that came up to me because we practice that skill at Rollins daily. If I went to a large state school I probably would have been more intimidated. Overall, it was a great experience that has got me thinking about furthering my research involvement in the future.
On March 9th, I presented at the SEPA poster presentation and represented Rollins as a student researcher. I was very nervous in the beginning because I have never done anything like this. I have given presentations but never at a large conference on my own. I spent a couple of hours before hand memorizing what I was going to say because I did not want to leave anything out. When we started presenting the posters the first few people that came up I was a little nervous and stuck with what I had memorized but as time went on I became a lot more comfortable. I was able to not only remember parts of this study but also talk about political theory I had learned in my politics class to address some of their questions. It was really cool to be well educated on what I was presenting and being able to educate others. Also, I was able to meet some professors and students from other schools. They gave me more ideas on how to research political psychology further as well as diversifying the population that the research was on. This presentation experience was amazing and l was definitely out of my comfort zone but it was such a great way to see how to take knowledge out of the classroom. Also I learned a lot about presenting which will be helpful in the classroom as well.
This summer I spent five weeks in a town called Vescovado di Murlo in the Province in Siena, Italy, digging at the Etruscan archaeological site of Poggio Civitate. The field school, run through the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and headed by Dr. Anthony Tuck, was inarguably one of the most extraordinary experiences of my college career thus far. I’ve known I want to be an archaeologist for years but haven’t decided what particular area I want to spend my professional career in; there are quite a few to choose from. Working on this site this summer forced me to seriously think about which direction I wanted to take when it comes to my academic and professional career. I learned different archaeological techniques along with various conservation methods. Every morning from Monday through Friday, we were up before 6 am, eating breakfast on the stoop, hiking up the hill, and were ready to start digging by 7 am. We worked from then until 3:30 in the afternoon stopping only for personal salt and water breaks and the group lunch at noon which lasted a half hour. It was hard work and most of the time was spent either squatting in the trench or standing, bent at the waist. Every week, students were put into groups of about five or six and assigned to a specific trench working under a different trench-master. This worked wonderfully because every supervisor ran their trench a little differently and every trench contained different and various artifacts so students were constantly learning new things throughout the summer. I came back home battered and bruised and had to ice my knees for three days straight but I could not have been happier with how I spent my summer. I look forward to returning to Poggio Civitate as a trench-master in training next summer.
As an anthropology major, I am constantly aware of how my interpretation of my surroundings is relative to my own personal experiences. I knew that in traveling to Italy, I would be immersed into a very different culture and I would need to keep an open mind about the events I witnessed and the people I met. I was in Italy for five weeks this summer participating in an archaeological dig about thirty minutes south of the city of Siena and while we worked hard from the crack of dawn through the hot hours of the afternoon, we did have weekends off to travel as we liked. We had gathered up a large group of students from the excavation project who wanted to go and together we caught the 6:50 am bus from Vescovado di Murlo into Siena to watch the Palio race. The race itself started an hour and half later than planned due to the time spent gathering the horses and trying to line them up to start the race. They were on so many drugs they struggled to walk in a straight line or even to stand still. As someone who goes through extra care to only buy cruelty free products, this was a heartbreaking scene. I wanted to scream at someone. I wanted to stomp out and leave and demand that this practice be stopped because it was so obvious the horses were hurting and scared but I couldn’t. The Palio has historically been viewed as a key aspect of the Sienese culture and the people of the various competing contratas take the race event extremely seriously. I had to remind myself that this is not my own culture and no matter how unethical I found the scene, I had no right to criticize the people of Siena on such an integral part of their identity.
I have always been afraid of traveling on my own, even if it was in my own neighborhood. Sometimes going the store by myself was difficult for me. Living on a college campus and having my own car has really helped me get better at traveling on my own. However, when I got to Japan there were so many things that I wanted to do and see but I was to afraid to explore on my own. On my trip we had the opportunity to explore on our own for one day in each country.
Side note: Something that I liked that my professor did that I really liked was that he made all of the participants use a map to figure out how to get around Japan. We used trains and buses to get around so that by the end of the trip we were all experienced in reading the maps, train signs, and bus signs. Which I really loved considering that I am going to be living in Japan for a year. I can now go back and there won’t be much of learning curve. I also loved how we used the physical maps rather than Google maps. Some people have never even used a map before. Sure it was frustrating as hell at times, nonetheless, it was a great experience! Professor D’Amato (coolest guy ever and he should let me be student leader next time he goes) if you are reading this, I learned some shit, thanks!
Anyway, back to the original story, sorry. Like I said, I regret not getting lost, essentially. I would have been able to see so much more and experience so much more of the culture. But don’t be mistaken, I did not just sit around my hotel twiddling my thumbs (okay one day for like 3 hours but we had climbed a mountain the day before and I was dead) I explored the local areas and went to book stores and museums I stayed 30 minutes walking distance from the hotel and there was a lot of things to do just in that area. But I do wish I went other places but I will not be making that same mistake when I go in August.
So while I was cleaning up my room and unpacking some things I brought home from college, I ended up stumbling upon some charms that I got from 金閣寺 (kinkaku-ji) in 挙党、日本 (Kyoto, Japan). While I was looking through the bags I found a few receipts and I was absolutely shocked at how much money I had actually spent. Just in that bag alone, I had found two receipts totaling around 8,000円！
So to save you a little time I’ll just tell you what 8,000 yen is equivalent to—it’s roughly, give or take, $70. You want to know what one of the receipts was for? Twenty face masks. I spent $70 on face masks. Mind you the entire time I knew the conversation rate to the dollar while I was in Japan. Guys, I am so frugal I even refuse to fill up my car when I have been driving on empty for a questionable amount of miles. What was I thinking, you ask? Well, I wasn’t, clearly. I was just so excited that I was in Japan, buying everything my little heart desired, and to be fair I only ran out of money on the very last day of my trip. Still, I can think of a million other things I could have invested that $70 dollars into but c’est la vie. Je vais devoir vivre avec elle. Pas de problème. All the money I spent I had saved for this trip so I guess it’s okay. No, it is okay! I am just going to need to get my life together before August.
(Originally dated Aug. 4, 2017): Today was the last day of the excavation, and it was very bittersweet. This half of the excavation involved opening up two new trenches in front of the tomb and excavating the interior of the tomb, something I was very excited for. I got to be one of the first ones to excavate the tomb since I was there for the first half. We all rotated, so I only got two days in the tomb. It was worth it though.
Burial practices of the Chalcolithic/Bronze Age almost always consisted of cremation burials, so that’s what we expected to find. I had high hopes for finding pottery or some other grave goods in the tomb, but unfortunately there weren’t any. We did however find large quantities of bone, some cremated, some not. I discovered two fire pits in the tomb, and one of the directors said that they’d never discovered fire pits in all their years of excavation. We bagged the hearths and all of the surrounding soil. The excavation of the tomb continued for the rest of the session with different people rotating in each day. They all found more cremated and non-cremated bone.
Outside the tomb, the finds weren’t as good as they were in the previous session. They mostly consisted of animal and human bone fragments, with more flakes from stone tools. One of the volunteers found a beautiful bronze dress pin, but it most likely dates to the Medieval period. I didn’t find anything else major, but nothing could have compared to the arrowhead anyway.
All in all, the excavation was definitely the most wonderful experience of my life. I learned valuable archaeological skills such as excavation, site planning and modeling, and artifact identification. It really solidified my desire to be an archaeologist, and I can’t wait to continue with future excavations.
(Originally dated June 24, 2017): The first session of the field school is all wrapped up. What an amazing month! Archaeology is my passion, but until now I’ve never had the chance to participate in an actual excavation. This year, the field school is excavating the Parknabinnia Wedge Tomb on the Burren in County Clare. The tomb is from the Chalcolithic (Copper Age) Period and dates back to about 5000 years ago. This is exactly the kind of site I want to study.
The first few days consisted of removing sod and grass. One of the volunteers found a Neolithic thumb scraper used for scraping flesh off of animal skin. This was really interesting because it predated the site. Other than that, the finds mostly consisted of large amounts of bone, mostly animal. Later that week we finally began troweling. I thought it would be a bit boring but it definitely wasn’t. When excavating a site, you remove different layers of soil that are referred to as contexts. We removed the first two or three contexts in the first week or so. After a few days of no major finds, I uncovered what the director later said was the most important find of the entire dig: a Neolithic arrowhead! It was made out of a stone called chert and absolutely beautiful. Definitely one of the best moments of my life. That same day, one of the site directors uncovered what turned out to be what is referred to as crouched inhumation: an articulated skeleton that had been buried in the fetal position. He and another student in the field school spent the next two days uncovering and then lifting it. Later examination revealed something incredible: he had been stabbed in the ribs! This was his likely cause of death. These were the two largest finds of the first half of the dig. The finds from the rest of the session consisted of human and animal bone fragments and stone flakes from tools. After four wonderful weeks, the first half wrapped up. But, I decided to stay on for the second half! I was asked to stay on and continue, and I just couldn’t say no. So, after a two-week break, I’ll be back on site to continue digging!