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New Appreciation for Professional Anthropology

Today’s blog post is by one of our two summer interns, Eric Rodriguez. This is the second year of the AAA Summer Internship Program. Learn more and support the program today!

Eric Rodriguez here, one of two 2012 AAA summer interns. I am just reaching the midway point of my dual internship with the AAA and the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) located in Washington D.C.

Reflecting on the first half of these internships, it amazes to me to see how far I have come in a short time span. Whether it is primarily the social or work environment, my understanding of Washington and professional anthropology has matured and increased my love for both the city and this career field.

These first weeks of the AAA internship have embedded a better understanding of the publishing and outreach programs of anthropology. As Susannah and I continue to work on our summer project, I have come to a personal understanding of the detail that is required to launch a nationwide campaign. When I review a budget or revisit proposals for the National Association of Student Anthropologists, I realize the inner workings of professional anthropology and how I can potentially see myself entering this area of anthropological work.

Conservation lab at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

My new found appreciation for professional anthropology can be best captured by my time at the Naval History and Heritage Command. In the first weeks at the Naval Yard, my time was focused on more clerical work rather than conservation. I have had the opportunity to continue primary document research for the USS Scorpion and to assemble a lesson plan for high school students to learn about the opportunities and technologies that are available in maritime archaeology. I have also been able to continue sharpening my ArcGIS skills by assembling lithology, podology, and topographic maps for the USS Penobscot project in Rhode Island. While I highly enjoy working on these projects, I hope to spend the second half of the internship in the conservation lab directly working with the artifacts. I am especially excited to be working with Meshlab and Scanstudio softwares, as I have not been able to sharpen my skills with them since working with Dr. Davide Tanasi in Siracusa, Italy. The NHHC experience has only increased my desire to work in maritime archaeology whether it may be in an academic setting or in a professional atmosphere. The advice given to me by my supervisors has provided venues and potential job opportunities to continue practicing archaeology before enrolling in the MA—Maritime Archaeology program at the University of Southampton next fall.

Artifact storage center of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Living and working in DC has brought a new appreciation of the city. Growing up close to the DC area, I would often make family trips to the see the museums and tourist attractions of the city. While my family loved the area, I never fancied DC itself. However, my current experience here has changed that. Not only has the amazing work experience led to this realization, but also the opportunity to explore the various districts. One habit I have acquired is walking to and from my internships, trying never to take the same path twice. This choice has allowed me to appreciate the beautiful architecture and neighborhoods of Washington. Urban exploring always reveals the soul of a city and what I find to be the more enjoyable aspects of larger urban environments, cultural districts. By myself or with friends, I take great efforts to visit hole-in-the-wall restaurants and shops. A favorite of mine has been Busboys and Poets located in Columbia Heights, a must for anyone looking for a restaurant with a great atmosphere, open mic nights and fantastic cuisine. Thanks to venues such as this, I think it’s safe to say that this city has finally charmed me over.

As I continue to work and explore DC, I hope to continue gaining insight into professional archaeology and Washington as I may one day find myself working in this field and in this city once again. Until then, I will continue enjoying the rest of my time here both inside and outside of the workplace.

Ciao for now!
Eric Rodriguez

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