Since graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in anthropology in 2015, I have applied the skills that I learned as a student to a number of different environments. In the year following graduation, I interpreted for Hispanic patients at the Community Care Clinic in Boone. At the clinic, I interacted with members of the Boone community who had backgrounds completely different from my own. I admired how the health care providers at the clinic were able to effectively communicate with all of the patients regardless of their personal differences, and I realized that I was successful at the clinic for the same reason. Every anthropology class I took inspired me to empathize with the perspectives of others. They challenged me to reevaluate my own perceptions of the world that surrounds us, and as a result I am more able to collaborate with people who view the world differently than I do.My anthropology classes also encouraged me to consider alternative solutions to problems. In May of 2016, I traveled to Ecuador to teach English as a foreign language in the town of Cuenca.When you’re living in another country, it’s easy to convince yourself that your way of doing things is the best way of doing things, but stubbornly rejecting alternative solutions to your problems is just unproductive. When faced with challenges in Ecuador I was required to unlearn many of the habits I had developed at home. For example, in Ecuador my smartphone wasn’t able to give me step-by-step directions to my destination, so I had to memorize the layout of the city in order to get around. This was frustrating at first, but eventually I was able to confidently navigate the streets of cities that were completely new to me. I remember thinking about how much we depend on our smartphones in the US. While google maps is incredibly useful, sometimes we depend on it so much that we are incapable of getting around without it!
Many of my anthropology classes (History of Anthropological Ideas, Economic Anthropology, Anthropology of Development) led to my interest in the influence of governing systems on the human experience. In August of 2017 I began the Master of Public Administration program at Chapel Hill, and a recurring theme in many of my classes is that good government depends on the ability of public servants to connect with the people they serve. In addition to the qualitative methods class, the anthropology department at Appalachian offered a variety of field experience opportunities which allowed me to interact and learn from people with different worldviews. Looking back, I realize that majoring in anthropology not only equipped me with valuable knowledge and skills, but more importantly it impacted my values and principles as a person in general.