Fieldwork Scholarship Sends Anthropology Major on Belize Adventure

HSU Anthropology and Sociology major, Leslie Perkins, was awarded the Jane C. Waldbaum Archaeological Field School Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to only seven students in the United States and Canada and includes $1,000 to pay for their first fieldwork experience.

2011-0913-Belize.jpg Photo courtesy of Leslie Perkins.
Perkins cleans ceramic shards outside the artifact lab in Belize. Each piece was scrubbed with a toothbrush, except the fine orange fragments, which were carefully rubbed clean by hand.

Perkins decided to enroll in the Belize Archaeology field school, taught by Professor Marisol Cortes-Rincon, from the Department of Anthropology. Perkins was in Cortes-Rincon’s class when she decided to go with her to Belize. “Marisol is like a second mom to us students,” Perkins said. “If we want to learn how to do something, she’ll teach us how to learn.”

After being accepted into the program and scholarship money in hand, Perkins packed her bags for Belize. “The scholarship money helped pay for everything to take down there: a backpack, bug spray, shoes and clothes,” Perkins said.

Once in the northwestern area of Belize, they spent a month hiking, digging, surveying, excavating and gaining hands on experience in laboratory work with Mayan artifacts. Perkins was excited to gain the hands-on experience. “Its one thing to read about archaeology and its another going out and doing it,” Perkins said.

The Belize Archaeology Field School provides HSU undergraduates with hands-on experiences through surveys and excavations at three Maya sites—Dos Hombres, Gran Cacao and Great Savannah. Perkins’ group traveled through the jungle to find new GPS points along the survey and review points Cortes-Rincon had plotted from previous summer trips. “You have to machete your way through the jungle,” Perkins said. “Most of the time you’re cutting a path through and digging along the way, mapping and taking GPS points.”

Perkins will be graduating this fall and plans to continue her education in graduate school. She plans on writing her thesis paper about next summer’s trip, as a volunteer, to Belize.