CNC Anthropology field school connects students with ancient Greece

by Krysia Primus | Feb 27, 2019

Education offers students the opportunity to explore. Often, this exploration of ideas plays out within the four walls of a classroom. Through the College of New Caledonia’s (CNC) Study Abroad program, however, students with an interest in anthropology can step out of the classroom and into the real world of ancient Greece.

For second year Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program student Melissa Wakeman, CNC’s anthropology focused field school was a chance to explore human culture.

This, she said, was an important step to further understanding the concepts of cultural safety widely practiced in the Canada’s healthcare industry today.

“It’s important to understand and respect a patient’s culture when caring for their health,” Melissa said. “Compassion in nursing is very important. Compassion comes with empathy and that is one of the ultimate things that a good nurse needs.”

The trip marked the first time she had travelled to Europe. From her plane window, Melissa was in awe as it flew over the ancient Acropolis of Athens.

Students were taken on a guided tour of ancient and modern Greece. This included a number of archaeological sites such a Ancient Agora, Delphi, Cape Sounion, Ancient Olympia, Mycenae, the Tomb of Agamemnon, Epidavros, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Temple of Aphaia.

Students also dived deeper into history through visits to the Acropolis Museum, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Benaki Museum and the National Archaeology Museum.

For Melissa, walking on the ancient Olympic track that so many have done for thousands of years was a moment she will never forget.

“You’re walking with history rather than just reading about it,” Melissa said. “There’s no comparison to actually being there at that present moment.”

Though Anthropology isn’t in the health sciences field, Melissa said she is glad it is a prerequisite for nursing.

“What course is more pertinent than one helping you understanding how people live, develop and understand society?” she asked.

The field school in Greece marked the first time many of the students had ever traveled outside of Canada. Jessica Naziel, a member the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, was one of those students. Upon the recommendation of the Aboriginal Resource Centre, she applied for the field school and was accepted.    

“I never thought I would be outside of Canada,” she said. “We were so immersed in the culture of Greece was. I was in disbelief for most of it.”

The field school continues to benefit Jessica as she pursues her Associates of Arts degree focused on English, Aboriginal Studies and Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. She and her sister were the first their family to pursue post-secondary education.

“I like to break barriers, pave pathways and inspire others,” she said. “This trip broke barriers for me.”