The Semester in the Southwest is slowly but surely drawing to its end and the 18 students and two professors involved are making the most of their final few weeks in the American Southwest.Having returned recently from a three-day excursion to the Grand Canyon, the members of the class made several other day trips to other significant locations in and around the Santa Fe region while working to complete semester-long projects and make final presentations for their professors.
“We had a lot on our plates,” said student Molly Hornbeck. “We had to give presentations in Anthropology, create final pieces for art, and work on independent studies. The fact that we still got to visit so many awesome sites so close to the end of our trip was really great though.”
The class made several trips to sites like Bandelier National Monument, a park housing some of the most impressive Ancestral Native American ruins and sites seen on the trip.
Built on the incline of the Valles Caldera Volcano (a massive million-year old structure that shaped much of the southwest with its eruption), Bandelier hosts an expansive forest area with awe inspiring scenery and settlement ruins that differ from what most people would think.
“A lot of the monument had cave dwellings, not buildings that the Ancient peoples built out from the cliff-face like other places, but actual natural caves that many people could live in.” says sophomore Bryanna Rickstad.
Additionally, the class rounded out their trip with visits to several local Pueblo villages. These settlements, founded by mainly Native peoples with Spanish influences, have remained unchanged by the progress of the outside world for centuries and are “independent nations” to that of local government.
These secretive societies are open to the public for a price and are closed outright during annual rituals, which still to this day remain hidden in practice.
“I was happy we were able to fit Taos Pueblo and San Ildefonso Pueblo into our time out here” remarks senior Samantha McClay fondly. “We studied the works of Maria Martinez in art throughout our time here, and to see where she lived and some of her work was really great.”
Martinez, a resident of San Ildefonso in her lifetime, was famous for her fired black pottery techniques. To this day her work sells for thousands of dollars and heavily influences modern pottery makers.
While the group had much to do in the way of class work and finishing their visits to other sites, it did not stop them from having one last group dinner on Tuesday night with their professors and the staff of Ghost Ranch Santa Fe to commemorate their time in the southwest and the hospitality of the staff.
“It’s been a blessing to have lived here for these past three months and truly wonderful to have had the members of Ghost Ranch be with us” says art professor Liza Myers.
The Students will be leaving to head home for the week of Thanksgiving via planes, trains, and automobiles and will be working to give a public presentation to Castleton in the Old Chapel on Dec. 2 about their amazing semester in the Southwest.