This post was submitted by Veronica Sirotic, a high school senior and anthropology student interning with the AAA.
For the longest time, I thought anthropology was a chic boutique for women’s clothing. Little did I know, anthropology would change the way I see the world.
My interest in anthropology began two years ago when I signed up for a two-year anthropology class. Many friends recommended it to me and I heard it was an easy A. My first class started with a plain definition of anthropology: Anthropology: the study of humans, past and present. We were given a packet to skim. At first glance, the packet detailed a wacky and bizarre society. The people in the unnamed society would stick themselves in ovens in order to darken their skin. They would only eat at particular times during the day and the food they ate strictly adhered to the time of the day. The reading was filled with observations that made the society seem completely foreign. However at the end of the reading, our teachers revealed the society in the reading was the United States. Thus began my love for anthropology.
Anthropology made the unfamiliar, familiar and the familiar, unfamiliar.
In my class we read ethnography after ethnography, learning about vastly different societies and cultures. We read about a Hmong family in California and the cultural clashes that occurred between the California medical systems and their traditional methods of treatment. We read about the lives of harem women within a small, rural, Iraqi village. We even read about sub-cultures within the United States, like the lives of drug-dealers living in East Harlem.
I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know about the world until I had taken anthropology.
I loved learning about different cultures and my anthropology class was filled with bright, hard-working people. My anthropology class was one of my few classes where we could talk openly and honestly about hot-topic issues. After we read the ethnography In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio by Philippe Bourgeois, we had a difficult discussion about rape culture in the United States. I learned that after reading about other societies, we are often forced to confront our own. Anthropology is one of the few high school classes where I can see myself using the information and skill-sets I have acquired.
In my second year of anthropology, the American Anthropological Association visited my class for World Anthropology Day and discussed jobs in anthropology and what anthropology meant to them. After their visit, I was lucky enough to intern with them for four weeks. My internship with the AAA solidified my interest for anthropology.
The AAA provided me endless opportunities to be creative and put my anthropological knowledge to good use. I got to work on social media projects, research, and do work that required real thought. I had many field trips to visit working anthropologists and found that the jobs available to anthropologists had no limits. I met with museum curators, researchers, health care employees, people who worked with the Advisory Board Company, and of course, people working within the AAA. Each anthropologist I met with had a different story but they all had one thing in common: they loved their jobs. Their passion for anthropology was inspiring and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in anthropology applying for an internship with AAA.
Anthropology changed the way I see the world and I am better for it.