The last week has been amazing…

Claire Niech writes:

The last week has been amazing, but there are a few moments that come to mind now as I think about my experience. Even though waking up at 4am is tough, the view from the Tel over the Valley through the early morning haze is beautiful to look out on as we climb the path up to the dig sites for the first time in the mornings. It’s still dark and little clusters of light mark out small towns along the mountains ringing the Jezreel Valley. In the dark, you can only see the shadows of the mountains and not the traffic, highways, and road signs that dot the Valley later in the day and it makes it that much easier to imagine all the history and stories the Valley has seen. It’s a nice walk up before the day really begins and it’s still quiet, the air is cool, and the view is breathtaking.

The days are long and full of a lot of work, but nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction that you get when you walk down the path towards the buses to the kibbutz and know that you have done a good day of hard work. It’s fun to join up with your friends from other areas and see that they too are covered in dirt, and yes, some of them have even managed to get dirt all over their face, as well! You know that you have earned that first dip in the pool or that extra ice cream cone after dinner.

Finally, our trip to Jerusalem last weekend was great, not just because the city is beautiful and full of such rich history, but also because I got to know some of the other volunteers a lot better.  As a group of us shared dinner the first night at a tavern in the Armenian Quarter, our conversation about our respective interests in archaeology gave way to a full-blown argument over the end of the Bronze Age and the merits of the Sea People theory. I learned a lot from my classmates and was amazed at how much some of them had learned over the past few years. It was strangely thrilling to be able to share a conversation like this with friends outside the classroom, and I’m sure very different from what the others in the restaurants were used to form a group of 20-something American tourists. The people here are what have made this experience so great and while it has been a remarkable experience to learn from some amazing professors with a diversity of backgrounds and interests, it has also been a great opportunity to meet other students who come from many different universities and really learn from them, as well.

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