Thursday, August 9, 2012

A preview for them, a preview for us.

            Like stepping into a time machine and being whisked away to the 18th century, today we got our first taste of what our 2012 Archaeological Open House will be like. Today, we were treated to the sight of many history enthusiasts donning their 18th century attire and excited members of the media all coming to the site of Fort St. Joseph for a glimpse at what this weekend will have in store for everyone.
            The day began the same as any other day with setting up equipment and preparing to give the media a taste of all the hard work and progress we’ve made since starting out here a month ago. Turning away from the Fort, one looked upon the hustle and bustle of tents being erected, displays being prepared, and reenacters pouring in. A podium was placed, a microphone connected, and we were ready to give our message of welcome to the media so they could then send it on to the public.
            A myriad of speakers graced our stage, each with nothing but good things to say about the work we have been doing here at Fort St. Joe. Those we heard from included Dr. Alex Enyedi; Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at WMU, Dr. Timothy Greene, Provost, WMU, Dr. Dean Anderson; Michigan’s State Archaeologist, Barbara Schwaderer and Bob Myers, in full 18th century attire giving a preview of what the open house has in store for everyone, and from the Mayor of Niles, Michael McCauslin. Finally, Dr. Nassaney presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to Larry Simpson who has been an avid participant in the project since 2004.
            My personal favorite aspect of the formal presentations was when one of our own, Leah Rice, spoke to everyone about her personal experience this summer. Her speech wasn’t just for her, or for us, but for the public; while everyone is excited about the work we do here, it is nice to inform them about how we feel about this work and our experience on a personal level. While her experiences may differ slightly from each other individual student that worked the Fort this summer, it was a good snapshot of what we have all loved and enjoyed.
            The Colonial Dancers from the area treated everyone to a couple of lively jigs. Their attire, spirited dance, and smiling faces kept the general mood of everyone in attendance high despite a spit of rain that kept a few huddled under umbrellas and tents. It will take a lot of effort for us students not to join them in their dances come the Open House.
            Finally, the ribbon to the Fort was cut and everyone was welcomed down to the site to get a good tour of all that we have been doing. Almost like kids in a candy store people flocked to open units with minds full of questions and eager Archaeology students waiting to receive them. In public Archaeology, this is definitely the best part: giving the excited public exactly what they want to see.
             After speaking to reporters from the Harold Palladium and the South Bend Tribune about the artifacts and interesting information gathered from our unit, I was in the best spirits yet. The last two folks my pit partners and I talked to have been active and interested in Support the Fort since its inception. How great it is to speak to these people who are truly interested in what we are doing and hang on every word and tell us their own stories of their interests and knowledge. Annie Krempa, one of my Pit Partners, summed up speaking to these great folks in that it left us with “a warm and fuzzy feeling inside”. Though I may not personally have many experiences with warm and fuzzy feelings, this was definitely one of them. I love what I do.

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