2005 Student-Faculty Fellows: Northern Kentucky University
Pottery Manufacture in Prehistory:
An Examination of Ceramics from the Mun Valley from the Neolithic to the Origins of Angkor
Mentor: Judy C. Voelker, Anthropology
Students: Emily Powers Dean, ’05; Shawn Fehrenbach, ’06; Rogelio Rivera, Jr., ’06; Mandy Turner, ’06
Emily Powers Dean
Traveling to Thailand was a remarkable experience. Strangely, I felt so at home during my journey, where a language was spoken that I didn’t speak, a religion was worshiped that I didn’t practice, and lifestyles were nothing like those I was accustomed to at home. This trip taught me a lot about culture. I learned not only about Thai culture but also more about my own. I will miss many things from Thailand: the great foods (that I would never have tried had I not gone there), the fresh produce, the opportunity to work with such unique artifacts, the Monday night markets which were more like a festival and most of all, all of the friends we made in Phimai. I learned what it is like to experience the culture shock that I was taught about in classes. I was put into situations where I could not speak to anyone and had to learn to deal with a language barrier. I now know what it feels like to look and be different than everyone around me! Phimai, Thailand has become one of my favorite places in the world!
My experiences in Thailand this summer have changed my life for the better. As a person who is finishing up his undergraduate degree, this trip has been very valuable to me in providing the guidance, enthusiasm, and experience that is necessary for me to take the next steps in my career path. Some aspects of Thailand were more familiar than expected and some less, but every moment of the trip was a learning experience in some way. I learned a great deal about archaeology, in ways both specific to Southeast Asia and general to the field. I have also come away with a good foundation of knowledge in both the historical and modern culture of the region and the language, which will help me to continue to study in Southeast Asia.
My future goals include incorporating anthropology and marketing into a career in ethnographic marketing research. My summer research trip through the ASIANetwork Freeman Foundation Student Faculty Research Fellowship exposed me for the first time to Southeast Asian cultures. During my stay in Thailand and Cambodia, I was able to observe how people live and how marketers perceive the way people want to live. I believe this exposure to international ethnographic marketing will be beneficial to me in my future career.
My research experience this past summer in Southeast Asia also provided me with opportunities to study clay pellets which are recovered in archaeological excavations in the region by conducting a small ethnoarchaeological study based on the use of pellets in modern villages and by completing archaeological lab analysis of prehistoric pellets. Anticipated results of my research include paper presentations at regional conferences and possible publication of my findings in a student journal. This trip has given me a richer understanding of what anthropologists experience when they are first immersed in a foreign culture and based on my research in Southeast Asia, I now consider myself an experienced anthropologist.
As a student of anthropology my dream has been to visit another country and experience another culture first hand. My trip to Thailand was a dream come true and was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. The thirteen-hour plane ride to Tokyo was my first time on an airplane. The layover in Tokyo was my first experience as an American in another country and my first experience as a minority. The trip can be described by so many first experiences that I had; but these experiences and how they’ve affected me are so much more than retelling the stories I now have. I’ve learned what is most important in life and my life has more direction now than it did before the trip. Perhaps the most important thing I learned while in Thailand this past June was that I’m more interested in studying and working with people than I am in practicing archaeology as a career. While conducting my archaeological research I found myself wanting to know more about present Thai culture rather than studying prehistoric Thai culture. This revelation about myself has opened up more career possibilities for me. I am currently expanding my studies to incorporate more cultural courses and I am considering careers that involve helping and interacting with people. At this point, I’m undecided about whether or not I would want my career to take me out of the United States again; however, future travels may be an option.