It was in Ireland that I spent one summer of my life as an archaeologist, sifting through countless tons of dirt, trying to exhume small fragments of Irish history. In Ireland I found a strange and complex mix of the present and the past; it left me with an indelible impression of the enormous importance history has in shaping who we are.... When I was not on my hands and knees in the middle of a cow pasture, digging, sketching, and sometimes cursing, I was imbibing at the local pubs or travelling around the Irish countryside. I thought I knew a lot about history, and about culture, for I was a clever American Civilization student from the University of Pennsylvania. My intellectual bravado was not from arrogance so much as from ignorance. I brought with me a fine collection of ideas, but as the summer continued, these ideas became fused with experiences, and a new understanding began to construct itself in my mind. It was far from the omniscience I thought I had, but it was far richer and more valuable, because it was real.
To index for Penn's International Dimensions.
January 12, 1993
Volume 39 Number 17
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