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Summer internship blog series: Twin researchers abandon desks for archaeological excavation and cultural investigation

By Contributing Writer on October 28, 2013


Colgate students, interning this summer at companies such as NBCUniversal, Hukkster, Nike, and Facebook, are sharing their experiences. This post is written by independent researchers Alex Jurado ’15 and Erik Jurado ’15.

We began searching for summer internship possibilities in the spring knowing one thing: we did not want to spend the summer behind a desk. Satisfying that wish was not easy, but with some guidance fromProfessor Tony Aveni, our faculty supervisor, we wrote a research proposal that was approved by the Institutional Review Board, allowing us to spend our summer in the field.

Our independent research project gave us the opportunity to investigate archeology as a potential career path and to explore our interest in Mestizo and indigenous identity in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.

We spent ten weeks conducting our research in various small towns and at archeological sites. Our research explored the impact that archeology had on the identity of native archeologists, locals, and indigenous people. We conducted participant observation and interviews. Our interviewees included archeologists, excavators, vendors, artisans, townspeople, and priests.

We stayed at two excavation sites directed by Colgate alumni — David Carballo ’95 in Teotihuacan, Mexico, and Kristin Landau ’07 in Copán, Honduras. We learned and practiced the basic techniques for excavating: laying grids, digging pits, sifting soil for artifacts, and making field drawings of excavated pits and materials.

We also undertook one of the many tasks of laboratory analysis that entailed measuring and cataloging obsidian shards and projectile points. These skills will be useful if we decide to work at archeological digs next summer or if we undertake a career in archeology.

The summer offered the opportunity for some amazing cultural immersion. Most memorably, we spent several weeks on a farm own by independent Mayanist scholar and author Vincent Stanzione, in an indigenous village of three hundred people in the highlands of Guatemala. At first, we experienced severe culture shock in this town that was so rural and isolated, and where the people still spoke the Mayan dialect Kaqchikel. It proved to be a very rewarding once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience authentic Mayan culture.

Undertaking our own research was the best way to apply the methods that we had learned in the classroom. It also proved to be a valuable networking opportunity, because we met many of the field’s top archaeologists and experts in the process. Through a personal journey of this kind, we gained a better understanding of other people, cultures, and ourselves.

-Alex Jurado ’15 and Erik Jurado ’15 (Norwich, VT)

With the help of the university’s remarkable alumni network, Colgate’s Center for Career Services helps hundreds of undergraduates find invaluable internships each summer. For more information on the center and its efforts on behalf of Colgate students, visit colgate.edu/careerservices.

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