A student interested in a career in anthropology can easily learn more thanks to a new video that highlights the work of two Millsaps alumni and a colleague.
The video available on NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News that provides resources for students, teachers and lifelong learners, features 2012 Millsaps College graduate Mandi Strickland, Millsaps Scholar of Maya Studies Tomas Gallareta and 2013 Millsaps graduate Allie Jordan at work in Yucatan.
“NBC Universal could have picked any college and project in the world to show the excitement and possibilities of archaeology and a career as an anthropologist to students across America, but it decided to highlight archaeology as it is practiced as Millsaps College,” said Dr. George Bey, professor of anthropology and associate dean of international education at Millsaps. “That’s because we do it as well as anyone on the planet.”
The video captures footage of the College’s 4,500-acre Helen Moyers Biocultural Reserve in the Northern Maya lowlands of the Yucatán peninsula, which has earned attention from USA Today and National Geographic. Millsaps College and its non-profit organization Kaxil Kiuic operate the reserve that serves as the center of the Millsaps Living in Yucatan Program, which offers courses in archaeology, biology, business, communications, ecology, education, geology, history, literature, math, religious studies, Spanish and socio-cultural anthropology.
In the video, Strickland describes her work at Escalera al Cielo—known as the “Stairway to Heaven”—at the site Kaxil Kiuic. “This would have been a place where wealthy people with money, people in power, built their houses out from the city to have a beautiful view, luxurious things to do,” she explained in the video.
Video footage shows Strickland climbing into a chultun, a man-made, underground tank that the ancient Maya built to store rain water, and later discussing with Gallareta the necessity for the cisterns.
View the NBC Learn video:
Strickland and Jordan, who is the Millsaps College international communications liaison, are shown running and playing with children at the nonprofit they established in Yaxhachen, a 3,000-person pueblo that’s home to most of the local Mayan workers for the Kiuic project. The nonprofit named Ko'ox Boon focuses on facilitating creativity and community revival and celebrating indigenous heritage and culture.
With guidance and leadership from the community, Strickland and Jordan painted two murals in the community gathering space and restored the basketball court, playground and benches. They have led art workshops for children there.
“We painted with watercolors for the first time, made flags, colored, made paper cranes, and all the while celebrated this community's rich Mayan heritage,” Jordan said. “Ko'ox Boon is centered around creativity, community, and culture.”
Strickland said in the video that her experience at Ko’ox Boon allows her to be anthropologist as well an archaeologist.
“This is where I feel like I get to be an anthropologist,” she said of Ko’ox Boon. “One of the things that Kiuic wants to help do and that we do when we come here is try to lessen that gap between ancient heritage and current heritage. The link that connects the ancient Maya with the contemporary Maya— with the children that I work with, that I play with and I run with—is the work that I do here with my co-workers.”