(Image courtesy of Joseph Lo)

Education

Column: My experiences at the Center for American Archaeology

I finally arrived back in Los Angeles from a trip to Illinois. The first thing I do when I get home is hopping on my CAA (Center for American Archaeology) Discord server and start chatting with the new friends I made. We would post very funny memes and talk about the latest archaeology news. I…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/jjosephlo/" target="_self">Joseph Lo</a>

Joseph Lo

September 29, 2021

I finally arrived back in Los Angeles from a trip to Illinois. The first thing I do when I get home is hopping on my CAA (Center for American Archaeology) Discord server and start chatting with the new friends I made. We would post very funny memes and talk about the latest archaeology news. I would have never got to this point if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith to pursue my passion. 

As you may have guessed, my passion is archaeology. I have always been intrigued by it since I was little. The fact that archaeologists uncover history with their two bare hands and educating humankind about their long-forgotten history just fascinates me.

In my room, I have a huge fossil collection. My collection ranges from dinosaur materials to ancient marine fossils. Every time I look at a piece of my collection I become mesmerized by how this piece is dated back millions of years ago. This is how much I love history.

Years have passed by and I still have had no hands-on experience with archaeology. So, when quarantine started to end, I found out about a field school program at the Center for American Archaeology, IL. When I heard about this I had a feeling of excitement, but also feelings of fear, especially as a 16-year-old who’s never traveled by himself before.

Pretty lame right?

Well, I thought to myself, things like this will always happen in the future. I will have to travel by myself at some point. Taking a few deep breaths, I told myself, “SCREW IT I’m going!” This was the leap of faith I had taken and here I am now, more mature, more confident, more sure of my passions, with a new group of friends to boot.

(Image courtesy of Joseph Lo)

Everything went well after stepping out of the plane. I met with the director of the program and waited for others to arrive. This is when I met my future best friend, Asher. Sitting next to him while waiting, I took all my courage and started a conversation with him.

To my surprise, we have a lot in common. We both love archaeology and anime. When everyone arrived, we hopped up to our van and drove to our dorms. Deciding which room to be in was very tough.

Asher and I wanted to be with each other, but the rules are three people per room, so we ended up staying with another guy named Edmund. 

Before going out onto the field, we were taught how to use the tools needed for archeology. After the lecture, it was time to get to work.

I was thrilled to be able to get out on the field and start doing fieldwork. Oh how naive I was, I walked out to the field and immediately became dejected. The awful humidity made it hard to breathe as the sun looked down on me with rage. My body soon became sticky and drenched in sweat after just standing out there for minutes. I felt like fainting, a city boy like me suddenly exposed to this weather is too extreme.

This is part of the process of my leap of faith. I have no idea what to expect, and all I had to do was endure the pain. Many days passed and slowly I became used to this nauseating weather. But, all the labor was well worth it when day six came along.

On day six, I was shoveling in my square, scraping my way to the next level. While shoveling, I heard a loud “CLICK.” I knew I had hit something big. Without thinking, my hand grabbed the trowel and carefully dug the area. A huge smile ran across my face when I found out what I had uncovered. It was a huge piece of orange ceramic, about as big as my hand; dating to about 500 CE-1000 CE.

I was speechless, for the past six days I have found nothing in my square and was losing hope. “My leap of faith was all worth it,” I thought to myself. This is the moment I live for.

(Image courtesy of Joseph Lo)

Anyone can create memories that will never be forgotten. Memories that will forever be cherished throughout your life. All it requires is your determination, like that leap of faith I kept referring to throughout the article. Thinking back, I realized how much I have grown from this summer camp. I was a person who was always in his turtle shell, with a mindset of becoming an archeologist but never having the courage to do fieldwork. Now, after this camp, I am confident to take on the world by myself now. Skills that I have lacked and now have acquired include riding planes by myself, facing extreme weather, and most importantly, socializing with like-minded people I have never met. Life is short, so go out there and make life worth living by taking your leap of faith.