I know I have released a number of posts that I have described as important announcements. It is not my intention to create hype, but this notification is the most critical yet. It concerns a major change in my plans this summer: I am going to Belize.
Earlier this year, I revealed that I was trying to conduct my master’s research in Guyana. The plan was to spend the summer and fall living in the village of Yupukari; studying residents’ cultural and spiritual beliefs about jaguars. Then, in February, I announced that I had revised that strategy. Instead of doing my research this summer, I was going to make a brief scouting trip to my intended study site. My intentions were to meet people and get set up for my actual field work – to begin in summer 2018. Now those plans have changed again. Instead of going to Guyana this summer, I am traveling to Belize.
There are two reasons for this shift. The first is that at this point, it is highly unlikely I will be able to get the logistics in order to head to Guyana by June; which is the last month my primary contact person will be there. I have simply been too busy to be able to focus on obtaining permits and funding. I have also learned about an opportunity that I cannot pass up.
Every summer, students from my university (Humboldt State) participate in an Anthropological Field School in Belize. Those who get into the program spend approximately one month near the Rio Bravo Conservation Area. They practice anthropological research methods in the field, work in Mayan archaeological sites, and learn about Belizean culture. I applied to the Field School, and have recently learned that I have been accepted. Last week I formally committed to the program.
I realize this is a substantial change from what I was planning to do before, so please allow me to explain. First of all, the methods we will practice at the Field School are the same methods I am likely to use for my research. Importantly, I will also be traveling as part of a group. This is a huge advantage, because this will be my first time outside of the United States or Canada. I will also be earning course credits through this study abroad program. In addition, I will most likely never have another chance to conduct archaeological field work on Mayan ruins. Lastly, participating in the Belize Field School will give me a chance to conduct the same sort of scouting trip I was hoping to do in Guyana.
Belize is an important country for jaguar research: the instructor of the Field School even knows people who study jaguars in the region. Participating in this program will give me a chance to meet scientists and learn about ways I can contribute to jaguar conservation in Belize. Essentially, I will be performing the same sort of scouting trip that I was hoping to do in Guyana.
However, there is the matter of the money I have raised through my GoFundMe campaign. Those funds could go a long way towards financing my trip to Belize – but when I started the campaign I said I was going to Guyana. I would like to make sure everyone who contributed to my fundraiser is okay with me using their money for this new endeavor.
If you do not want me to use your money for the Belize Field School, please let me know. I will fully refund you if you request it.
Once again, I apologize for this abrupt change in plans. But this anthropological field school in Belize is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. It will allow me to practice the methods I will need for my thesis, earn course credits, travel more safely, and perform the same sort of scouting trip that I was hoping to do in Guyana. I am not sure where this is going to lead, but I feel better knowing that I have your support.