Well it was a thankfully brief and interesting summer. While most of my colleagues wish that their summers were longer (and don’t get me wrong, most years I do), I was so happy for the Summer of 2014 to end. It came after an equally interminable year of riding a mental, emotional, and physical roller coaster. I hit 5 life milestones in one year – something I would never recommend – getting married, buying my first home, buying my first car (without my dad checking it out first to make sure it is safe enough), and the deaths of both my parents (they died exactly 6 months to the day apart). The first three are exciting and certainly the first is a very happy occasion, but all this was marred by the loss of two people I have loved, and who have loved and believed in me through thick and thin, my entire life. But I study resilience. I know what it takes to walk on. And despite the cliche, as my mom would say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” So I’ve climbed back up on my horse and I’m charging back in to the battle.
As I take a look around, I see that my students are doing and have done well. Phew! That is a huge relief. Katie Chen is working full time and being paid at University Research Co., LLC where she took a chance on an unpaid summer internship last spring. Raquel Fleskes is thriving as a brand new doctoral student of molecular anthropology at Penn. Maria Sharova is back after a successful summer being paid to analyze environmental protest text at SESYNC. Jordan Tompkins survived not only her crazy supervisor (me), but also killer elephants, malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and hoopty transportation in Mozambique’s bush. Rebecca Alberda learned a lot about a new (to her) type of disaster – terrorism – and working for the US government as an anthropologist in her masters internship at START. Her blog post about the experience highlights the many connections in natural and man-made disaster risk, as well as the large group of individuals working to improve communication during catastrophes to protect more lives. Alyssa Nutter received rave reviews for her work with the Peace Program field school in the Gambia, and her supervisor assures me that she remained safe from potential Ebola infection. I have not heard from Amanda Hathaway though. I hope that she is working at a job she really enjoys and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of Colorado. All in all a good group of women going places. Seeing their success boosts my optimism that things are looking up!
In the meantime, I have seven new students, and one doctoral student, working in the Shaffer lab. Each of them brings a new perspective and fresh ideas. This term the undergraduates will be learning how to do text analysis. Jordan is taking the lead on their training (learning and practicing her people management skills), and I am learning how to step back and delegate.