I had never considered field school until my second year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At first I majored in linguistics―one of UMass’s best programs―until the beginning of my sophomore year when, after a prolonged decision, I made the switch to anthropology. I love every aspect of the field: culture, languages, traveling, understanding how humans live and how they have lived. I had dabbled in a few archaeology courses, mostly major requirements, without really giving considerable thought to trying field school. At UMass the anthropology major requires a “doing,” which is usually fulfilled with an honors thesis, studying abroad, and field school. UMass’s field school is conducted in nearby Deerfield, Ma. Some fellow anthropology majors condemned the idea of participating at Deerfield unless, as one friend put it, “you enjoy digging up garbage from the twenties.”
Appearing to be at an impasse, I toyed with the idea of switching majors again until a friend suggested exploring the Archaeological Institute of America’s website which features dozens of fieldwork opportunities. I perused the list nonchalantly until I came across Tel Kabri. Would I really consider traveling to Israel? I whittled down my other options: Deerfield…no. Belarus…no. Kazakhstan…no. I couldn’t possibly attend field school in a country I knew little about archaeologically, let alone at all, could I?
Fortunately, during the Spring 2009 semester, I enrolled in a course on the archaeology of Israel and Palestine, conducted by Dr. Michael Sugerman. Immediately I became filled with new knowledge of the place I had just applied to go to. Good move on my part, I’d say. I explained my situation to Dr. Sugerman, and he encouraged me to follow through with my trip. I thoroughly studied every reading, a few of which were even written by Dr. Cline. Becoming more acclimated with Levantine archaeology, I grew less hesitant and more excited, communicating with Dr. Cline about the trip and reading whatever I could about Tel Kabri.
So, fast forward a couple of months. The crossed out days on my calendar are creeping steadily towards July 11th, labeled with ISRAEL in marker. I describe my trip at least three times a day to friends and family. Even my dentist knows about the expedition. My plane tickets are squared away; my errands now consist of finding or buying items I’ll need for the dig; and my mother has been readily reminding me to be safe and avoid “getting kidnapped or beheaded or anything.” I speak for everyone when I say, “Mom, I’ll be fine.”