Annie Ryan and her study abroad experience in Argentina

We asked Annie Ryan to tell us a little bit about her experience studying abroad in Argentina during the spring semester. Here’s what she had to say:

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Annie Ryan in Argentina

I decided to study abroad late in the game but, as a then soon-to-be junior SOAN major, I realized my lack of planning was setting me up to waste a meaningful opportunity. I quickly reevaluated my junior year and, thanks to the pool advice I had collected from professors and friends, I applied for an SIT program in Argentina. Because of my last-minute planning and trust in other’s recommendations for me, I had almost no expectations when I entered the country; I was worried about my Spanish, but otherwise I was both ready and not ready to encounter anything that Argentina had in store. While the first few weeks for me in Buenos Aires were completely overwhelming (probably at least partly due to my lack of expectations), I was also grateful to have come without so many preconceived ideas of what my life should have been like there.

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An El Brote performance.

Ending up with a 30+ page paper in Spanish felt like an accomplishment in itself, but now that I’m able to mull the experience around a little more, I realize that being able to connect with a community so far away (in many ways) from my own experience is really the event worth celebrating. Doing ethnographic research abroad was inspiring in a way that other more local projects weren’t, as it taught me about the our ability to communicate with each other despite all of the borders and boundaries that seem to complicate our connections. While I certainly had my own fair share of miscommunications and Spanish blunders that felt humiliating at the time (especially in the yoga-like warm up exercises for El Brote where I realized my vocabulary for the human body virtually didn’t exist), I am amazed at how much I was able to communicate with and understand from El Brote. This success not only gave me confidence in my Spanish, but also in my English—if I can discuss political and social issues in another language, why should I ever be afraid of having these conversations in English? If I learned anything from being abroad, it’s that I’m ready (and we’re all ready) to start having these conversations everywhere—and that’s an epiphany I’m grateful to have had.

Thanks so much for the update, Annie. And welcome back!

Denise Glover and the annual meeting of the Society of Ethnobiology


Denise just got back from the meeting. The swarm of tornadoes were relatively close, but she’s back in one piece. Here’s her update:

Gary Nabhan (center) with Steve Emslie (left, founder member of SoE) and Cecil Brown (right).

Gary Nabhan (center) with Steve Emslie (left, founding member of SoE) and Cecil Brown (right).

During the middle of finals week, I had to leave campus to attend our annual Society of Ethnobiology meeting—this year at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. As Conference Coordinator (now Treasurer-Elect), I have been at least partly responsible for the conference every year and so am always just slightly anxious about it before it all comes together. Our theme this year was “Climate Change and Ethnobiology.”

We were lucky to have our long-time Society member and supporter, Gary Paul Nabhan, give the keynote speech as part of our plenary session. Gary is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist, and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. His latest book (just published, May 2013!) is titled Growing Food in a Hotter, Dryer Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty. Along with the plenary, we had sessions on Environmental Philosophy and Biocultural Conservation, Comparative Landscape Ethnoecology, Ethnomedicine, Fire Ecology, and others (see http://ethnobiology.org/conference/upcoming/sessions ). It was a successful conference overall and we managed to not get hit by a swarm of tornadoes (which touched down in Granbury, about 25 miles west of where we were)!

I am happy to announce that next year our Society of Ethnobiology will be having a joint meeting with the Society of Economic Botany in Cherokee, North Carolina (in May 2014); for those interested, keep an eye on our website for more details.

That sounds like a very interesting and timely meeting. Students in our department know that many of these themes are integral to your classroom and all of anthropology. Thanks for the update!