Monday, July 17, 2017

A Testimony From A Field Student

Hello all! My name is Emily Fletcher, and I am a senior at Kalamazoo College this year.  This is my first year as a student at the field school, but it is hardly my first year with the project. In fact, I first came to Niles in 2009, as a summer camper.
I have wanted to become an archaeologist since at least second grade, when I remember trying to convince my best friend to become one with me. So when my parents found the summer camp at Fort St. Joseph in 2009, they signed me up immediately.
I LOVED it. I spent the week working directly with college students, and thought they were so cool. I talked to the other campers about them incessantly, referring to the ones I worked with as “my people,” for lack of a better description. I really looked up to them. The rest of the camp was great too; I learned a lot about history, and found some neat artifacts. Best of all, I got to spend the days outside, digging in the mud! I was hooked.
The camp solidified my love of archaeology into a tangible experience, and gave me the basic knowledge and motivation to seek out more. The next summer, I returned to Niles—bringing my younger brother with me. In high school, I traveled to Kampsville, Illinois, to attend another archaeology camp. I returned to Niles again just two years ago, as a college student. That time, Dr. Nassaney asked me to write a blog post, which you can find HERE. At the time, I wrote that “my experiences [at Fort St. Joseph] led me to other archaeology experiences, to a history major in college, and, eventually, back to Fort St. Joseph.” Since then, it had also led me to Scotland, where I took archaeology classes for a semester. Finally, it led me back to Niles for the real deal: the archaeological field school.
Time may have changed some things but my love for
archaeology has remained through it all.

The first week of field school was really tough. We spent most of it clearing brush deep in the forest, and then digging arduous shovel test pits. However, I realized that my experience as a summer camper gave me an advantage. I adapted quickly to the work, as I had experience with much of it, and knew what to expect when others didn’t. This has made the field school much less daunting.
This week, the first group of campers will join us on the site. While I am nervous to become a teacher when I still have so much to learn, I can’t wait to meet them. I hope that they are as enthusiastic as I was, and that the camp impacts them as strongly as it impacted me. Most importantly, I hope that I can pay it forward, and can inspire them as much as “my people” inspired me in 2009. Maybe someday, like me, they will return to Niles as the next generation of students in the archaeological field school.

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