‘I could choose between Amsterdam or Chicago. That was not really a difficult decision’

De Vrije Universiteit houdt graag contact met haar alumni. Op de alumnisite is in de vorm van een reeks treffende portretten te lezen waar hun alumni zoal terechtkomen. Alumnus Archeologie Andrea Travaglia kwam van Australië, maar blijft voorlopig in Amsterdam.

If you rise above the crowd, you get noticed. With that credo, Andrea Travaglia got a job immediately after college, working as a guest researcher at UvA on a project that uses an innovative format of education and training for archaeological and natural heritage. Not in Italy, where her roots lie, or Adelaide, where she was born, but in Amsterdam.

text René Rector, Sciencestories.nl

Cultural preservation and natural preservation… Help me with the link to archaeology. ‘Yes, archaeology makes people immediately think about pot shards and excavations and those kinds of things. But for me, the difference from cultural anthropology is not that great. To start with: without cultural reproduction, we as archaeologists would have very little to dig up. What is excavated can either be salvaged or left on the spot and preserved for future generations. While you are looking at remnants of what people once used or made, you want to get an insight into how people once lived and how that compares with how we live today, and what that means for how we might live tomorrow. If you want to understand something about people of the past, that can be made possible by also getting to know the landscape in which they lived. Protecting cultural landscapes, including both cultural and natural resources, is just as important. In this project, we try to look for ways in which they can reinforce each other.’

What is the project exactly about then? ‘It is a European project that we are only just starting to do the groundwork for.. The project’s objectives involve improving
skills for green jobs and eventually create green work places for people from archaeological and natural heritage sectors. Understanding the environmental impact of archaeological heritage and significance of natural heritage for regulations and practices in the domain of archaeological heritage is to be mainstreamed into education and vocational training systems. You see, in the Netherlands, people don’t have many opportunities to participate in community archaeology projects as compared with the UK or Australia. It seems that nature hobbyists, metal detectorists and amateur archaeologists are interested people wanting to engage in their environment and be part of a community, and it might be good to involve those people in projects along with other experts.

You got this job very quickly after college – officially, you have not yet graduated. Were you lucky? ‘The ceremony is not until next month, but I am completely finished. My thesis advisor let me know about this project. I always worked hard at Vrije Universiteit and perhaps that is why I got noticed. think it is important to do my best. For example, I always actively participated in tutorial discussions. That brings you into more contact with people, and more quickly. I never worried about my career. I started doing what I found interesting, and that was archaeology.But I never wondered what I wanted to become with it later. “The jobs that you can get from studying might not even exist yet”, a high school teacher once told me. It stuck with me. So of course when Heleen van Londen (Andrea’s thesis advisor, ed.) asked me if I would like to collaborate on a project, I jumped at the chance…

Benieuwd naar het hele verhaal? Lees dat op de alumnisite van:

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam