Forging Iron and Friendship
“You really had to have been there,” says Dr. William Schindler. He is talking about the trip he and a group of anthropology students took to Denmark to study history in an innovative, immersive way.
The trip was just one part of a month-long summer class called “Interpreting the Past,” where Schindler, six students, and three recent alumni toured museums, archaeological sites, and reenactment venues both in the US and abroad to discover various ways of explaining–and exploring–history. The experience culminated with a two-day stay in an Iron Age village in Denmark.
One of these students was Dakota Barrow ’14, an anthropology major.
“It was about immersing yourself in a different time and place and taking as much as you could from the experience,” she explains. “You really needed to be hands-on with everything.”
Dakota wasn’t shy about doing that; she slept in a barn, knapped her own flint, and made iron nails at an era-authentic forge. She deems the experience “the biggest adventure of my life so far.”
Dakota says that she was also able to meet many “amazing people” from countries like Finland and Norway; she remains in touch with several of them.
Dr. Schindler remarked that watching the students say goodbye to their new friends at the trip’s conclusion was powerful. “The experience was so intense that even in that short time, the bonds we formed were so strong,” he explains.
Dakota has come to think of her fellow trip participants as her “Iron Age family.” Many of them will accompany Dr. Schindler to a conference later this year, where he will offer a presentation about the class.
Dr. Schindler is grateful to the Office of International Affairs and other college administrators for their open-mindedness as he planned the trip. “I had the complete support of the department and the administration to follow this crazy idea, which wouldn’t have happened at a lot of places,” he said. “But truly, what made the trip possible were the students.”
—Emily Blackner ’13