COLA: Intro: (Tell us a bit about yourself) Madeline Moison: I am a senior Anthropology Major and I am currently working on getting an Anthropology Club started here at UNH. After graduating in May I plan on pursuing museum studies and curatorial work. I hope to utilize my anthropological skillset that I have gained here at UNH and apply it to the world of museums. In my spare time I enjoy going on long runs, rocking out at local shows, and cooking food.
COLA:Why did you choose the Belize program? Madeline: I became an Anthropology Major in the hopes of becoming an archaeologist. While I now wish to pursue museum studies, archaeology still holds a deep fascination for me. The Belize program was a chance for me to explore this field in a way a traditional classroom never could. I mean come on! How often do you get the chance to work at a real ancient Mayan excavation site?!
COLA: How did you learn about the Belize program? Madeline: I had taken a few classes with some of the professors who work on the program and they had suggested it to me. I had also know several students who had gone on the trip who raved about the experience.
COLA: What was the adjustment process like when you arrived in Belize? What advice could you share with other students? Madeline: There are quite a few cultural differences between Belize and the US and it can take a little while to adjust. This adjustment is made easier with many Belizeans speaking English fluently. I would advise students to take their time and get to know the lodge where you are staying. You will be spending quite a lot of time there so making it your temporary home can make the transition easier. I would also stress that students take the time before they leave to learn a bit about the country. The more you know before going the better you will be at adjusting and handling situations while living in the country for an extended period of time with respectfulness and understanding.
Credit: Dennis Jarvis
COLA: Did you find your course work pushed you to explore more of X that you might not have otherwise? Madeline: I felt that I learned quite a lot about map making. I would never have pursued this subject in my wildest dreams. Yet here I am, with some basic skills in how to operate a total station and use GIS software to make a topographical map of an unexcavated archaeological structure.
COLA: What skills have you learned from your experience? MadelineI learned patients. You are out in the field for long periods of time sweating, being bitten by bugs, traipsing through the jungle trying to measure a point for your map, excavating, and sifting dirt. It can take some time to excavate a site. It is well worth the reward for your patients however. Every bug bite was worth finding some cool pottery shred or obsidian blade for me. Just be patient and everything will work out for the best.
COLA:What will be your best memory of being in Belize? Madeline: The thing that I will remember the most about my trip to Belize actually didn’t happen in Belize. My self and a fellow student, Blake, decided to take a weekend trip to Guatemala to visit the massive archaeological site of Tikal. If you are a Star Wars fan you might recognize Tikal, as it was used as the site of the Rebel base in Return of the Jedi. I have never been more amazed in my life. Several of the temples tower over the tree line reaching highs of 70 meters. It took us two days to see most of the park. Tikal is a national nature reserve, as well as archaeological site, with several endangered species protected on the park. Blake and I woke up one morning in our tent to see baby tapirs run across the path in front of us. It is very rare to see a tapir outside of a zoo, let alone babies. I would highly recommend visiting Tikal if you ever get the chance