More than Just Airfare: ASOR’s Good Investment

Posted in: ASOR, March Fellowship Madness, Scholarships
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I am helping clean what seemed a possible differentiation in the color of a plastered mud-brick wall.

By: Mehrnoush Soroush, 2012 Heritage Fellow

In the summer of 2012, I received an ASOR fellowship to join a field project in central Turkey, in the region of Cappadocia. Elsewhere, I described my immense happiness about receiving the fellowship and the invaluable experiences I gained in the field. Here, I would like to write about the significance of the ASOR summer fellowship for my professional career and the reasons I hope ASOR can sustain its support of students in the future through the generous donations of its supporters.

Like everybody else, I guess, I spent the fellowship to pay for my flight and ground transportation. As a general rule, the majority of field projects in the Near East provide basic accommodation and food, when you get there. But, finding financial support to pay for your flight is a big challenge for students. Field directors cannot spend the limited resources they have paying for inexperienced beginners. Several other available funding resources are given only to those who are advanced in their research and can develop a coherent research plan of their own. I applied for the ASOR summer fellowship because it supports beginners like me, with limited options, and enables them to take their first steps into the field.

The significance of the ASOR fellowship goes well beyond financial support to the aspects which may remain unnoticed. Upon a quick review of blog posts written by the fellowship recipients, one can discern a sense of pride, sometimes directly expressed and sometimes indirectly conveyed by the words. This, I think, is because the ASOR fellowship invests in the recipients not only with money but also with a great deal of trust: Trust in our goals and dreams, and in our capabilities before we have a long list of accomplishments to refer to. When I applied for the ASOR summer fellowship, I was not asked to provide a detailed list of when and how I would specifically spend every cent of the requested funding. Instead, I needed to show that I had thought enough about my academic and professional goals and about how I was going to realize them. Now, several months after I received and spent the fellowship, I still feel the sense of responsibility for the goals and plans I wrote down and for the trust I received in return.

And yet, this is not all of it. As a fellowship recipient, I had certain responsibilities which are, in my mind, of great educational value. I was expected to write a short report and blog post about what I did in the summer. From the very beginning of the project, I was paying much attention to what I was doing, what I was learning, and about all aspects of my life in the field that would be worth telling other people about. I believe this mental practice helped me appreciate the advantages of field life despite difficult moments of fatigue and frustration that are inevitable during fieldwork. For me, ASOR is not just a professional organization; it is more like a professional family. Therefore, the annual meeting is always a pleasant gathering that I count down to. The 2012 annual meeting held in Chicago had something very special for me. I was so proud to see the green ribbon on my name badge telling everyone that I was a “Fellowship Recipient.” Thanks ASOR and donors for your invaluable support!

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As you know, ASOR’s mission is to support archaeology in the Near East, and now we have an exciting opportunity for you to support students of archaeology directly! Every year ASOR gives out around 30 Platt and Heritage Fellowships to deserving students to defray the costs of excavating in the Near East. Thanks to last year’s March Fellowship Madness drive we gave out a total of 42 scholarships and we are trying to beat that number this year.

Our goal is to raise $10,000, and if we succeed, two generous donors will give funding for four additional fellowships, meaning a total of 14 additional students will get funding this year!  Help us seize this opportunity to send more students into the field! Donate now!

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