Teaching Archaeological Survey Methods in Spanish on Rapa Nui

Student in front of giant head statues on Easter Island

Julia Godinez with monumental statues on Easter Island / Rapa Nui.

Julia Godinez '17

Archaeological Intern

Academic focus: history major

Internship: Terevaka Archaeological Outreach

Imagine volunteering on Easter Island; one of the most isolated places on earth. Now imagine camping for a month and working with native youth while teaching them about their own island history. To top it all off, imagine doing this in Spanish.

This daunting job description quickly transformed into one of the most rewarding experiences of my academic and personal life. The idea of my internship was intimidating at first, but almost instantly I learned that my students were masters of their own history, and that I was there to learn from them.

As an intern, I was in charge of teaching non-invasive archaeological field methods to native high schoolers. Along with archeology, we also did a project of collecting written and oral histories of various archeological sites on the island.

I worked with Rapa Nui high school students during a two-week camp focusing on archeological outreach. Rapa Nui is a part of Chile and Polynesia, but their school system is strictly based on a Chilean curriculum. The goal of the organization I worked with was to fill the cultural and geographical gaps missing in these student’s studies. The program focused on teaching non-invasive archaeological survey, as well as engineering and an introduction to sustainability. The entire camp session was spent camping outside and this gave me the privilege of truly bonding and connecting with my students.

The entire island of Rapa Nui is protected, but the influence of rampant tourism has proved to be stimulating and destructive to the local economy. Rapa Nui is more dependent now than ever on Chile, and this affects the nationalism of the locals on the island.

Working closely with my students provided me with the unique opportunity of gaining and attempting to comprehend a local’s perspective on development and cultural preservation.