STEP Signature Project Reflection

Our Folklore presentation at the library

Cutting 6 crew

Medieval Earscoop and Toothpick

Laura Ruffner

1. My STEP signature project was going to Trim, Ireland and working with the Irish Archaeology Field School to excavate the Blackfriary. We learned about monastic life and how to dig on an archaeological site. It was also a great opportunity to learn more about folklore, because we worked on researching how stories surrounding the site were influenced by the Blackfriary.

2. Excavating the remains of a medieval monastery makes you feel very small. So many people lived before us and being able to see remains of their daily life is really special. It makes them seem so real and so human and not this hazy figure in the distant past. Archaeology was this amazing tool that I could learn to make the past real. It was hard work and it was tiring but at the same time it meant so much to be a part of the discoveries made.

I realized myself how much I can grow when put into a situation like this study abroad. I was with 15 other students from Ohio State that I didn’t know and didn’t necessarily have a lot in common with. It made me get out of my comfort zone and make an effort to get to know the rest of the students. I had to defend my views more than I had ever had to, but in that I also got to see where people with different views than me were coming from. It made me realize more than ever how important it is to have an open mind. While you need to stand by what you believe in, if you never hear what other people think then you will never get anywhere. It was great to realize that no matter how hard it was to speak up sometimes, my faith is important enough to defend

3. The first thing that made the archaeology very real was troweling up a medieval ear scoop and toothpick tool with the Irish field school. At first I had assumed it was just another nail until we looked at it again and realized  it was something different. Once the Irish Archaeology Field School figured out what it was, it was so exciting. Not only because we had found something medieval but because it was such a personal tool. This wasn’t just one of their floor tiles or nail, it was something someone would have held and used. For me it made it so much more real. We were excavating someones home, really someones life.

Another thing that really brought about my transformation was how different most of the other students in the group were from me. At Ohio State I have found a strong faith community to support me and help me grow. It was an adjustment to be taken out of that and be with other students that didn’t necessarily agree with my faith and didn’t think it was important. It forced me to take a step back and decide what my faith meant to me alone. Interacting with people that were making choices I didn’t agree with made me have to decide how responsible I was for saying something.

During my closing interview with the instructors they helped me remember that I wasn’t responsible for everyone elses actions. Talking to them about the month made me realize how much I learned and grew from the experience. Even though this was something run through Ohio State and wasn’t faith based it made me grow in my faith. I had to work to put in prayer time. I had to work to stick to my values and figure out when I needed to speak up to defend those values. Talking to the instructors of the course made me realize all of those things. They were very supportive the whole time, helping me find masses and feeling like I could fit in. This month in Ireland was way more transformative than I ever thought archaeology could be.

4. This was very significant for my life. I realized there are a lot more ways I can grow in my faith to be more comfortable talking about it. It also was a good practice for the rest of my life. There is a very good chance that in whatever Logistics Management job I get I wont be surrounded with people that have the same values and beliefs that I do. I need to be able to hold up my relationships with the people around me and my faith.

I also realized that I love troweling and that is significant because I went out on a limb and tried something completely different. It was a great decision because I learned so much and got to do a lot of work. The best part about the archaeology was that it was pretty easy to see the transformation we had made. You could see how much soil we had taken away and how much we had uncovered. It was amazing to be a part of and amazing to see.