Christopher Davis, Preservation Archaeology Field School Student
Over the course of three weeks, I have learned a great deal about Southwestern archaeology and the close-knit community of people who study it. But I have also learned more about myself, as an aspiring archaeologist. Upon arrival, I plunged into an endless realm of new knowledge branching from diverse subfields. Undergraduates and graduates from twelve different states, ranging from California to New York, of ages ranging from 19 to 38, came together because of a shared interest in archaeology.
I am a reserved individual. Remembering names was difficult at first, but names and friendly faces soon became intertwined with experiences, stories, and diverse backgrounds. Long, awkwardly silent excursions to and from museums and sites began to seem like short, sometimes rambunctious trips. Thirteen complete strangers have quickly become friends and peers who will support each other in building archaeological careers.
There is a stark contrast between lecture courses and field school. A few months ago, I was a recent graduate at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As I sat silently in a dimly lit room, furiously scribbling the day’s lecture word for word among a large group of students, I sometimes felt distanced from the learning experience. As interactions became tied to experiences shared among a group, however, I felt the field school space transforming into a true community of learners. In the absence of concrete walls, real sensory experiences replace books and words, and stronger understandings form. The teacher–pupil dichotomy is absent.
Out of this, respectful and engaging peer-to-peer relationships have emerged. Instructors and students alike are all engaged in an endless flow of learning. It is fascinating to think that we all came from different places. We were born and raised at different times and in various ways, yet everyone has so much in common when we work together. How can this be? I feel that I have found my niche in a community of learners.