"Choosing to take part in this program has been, without a doubt, one of the greatest decisions I have made in the course of my academic career. I was initially drawn to this particular field school because of the unique opportunity for students to travel between archaeological sites and experience such a large part of Mexico’s immense cultural diversity, both past and present. At each of the sites we visited, we were taught to use art historical materials and ethnographic techniques to reconstruct elements of culture which, when studied in tandem with material artifacts, provide an understanding of archaeological context far greater than that allowed by excavation alone. Furthermore, this remarkable program teaches students to collaborate with local people and utilize cultural knowledge to conduct research that is better guided from the start, thus minimizing destruction to a site and its surrounding landscape, while respecting and preserving the community in which it lies. I was continually awed by the amazing quality of our professors, leaders in their field, who were equal parts brilliant, supportive, and thoroughly inspiring. They made a point of introducing students to a huge variety of potential research opportunities, and were dedicated to helping us find places to focus our specific interests and talents within a large, and otherwise intimidating field. This program has inspired me to continue doing research back at UCLA, and has given me both the practical skills and confidence to pursue a career in the field of Mesoamerican archaeology."
- Celsiana Gera, UCLA (2013)
"The IFR program is a unique and rewarding experience that has directly influenced the path I’ve taken in my academic life. It has inspired me to continue pursuing further research in pre-Columbian art with Professor Pohl at UCLA. Professor Pohl and Danny Zborover created an environment in which we could contribute to the discourse of pre-Columbian and early Colonial cultural and physical landscapes. I feel very fortunate to be able to learn from their vast knowledge of the Valley of Mexico, the Plain of Puebla, the Valley of Oaxaca and the Nochixtlan Valley. The program is multifaceted and allows students to explore different areas of interests in pre-Columbian Mexico. As a leading expert in the field, Professor Pohl conducts the program in a manner that encompasses ethnohistorical and art historical methodologies. In doing so, we were able to use Mixtec codices, maps, and lienzos to analyze the landscape of the Nochixtlan Valley and relate our findings to present day communities that were the locations of the events portrayed in the codices. Learning to read the codices was truly fascinating, but our interactions with the local indigenous people we encountered were just as thrilling. In speaking to the direct descendants of the original inhabitants and writing ethnographies, we can further support our findings from the codices. I can honestly say that I’ve never had this much fun in an academic environment. I walked away from this trip with lasting friendships and a better understanding of myself and the world around. Everyday was an adventure with endless opportunities to learn. I highly recommend this field school to anyone interested in fully immersing one’s self in the culture of Mexico, while working in a truly interdisciplinary approach."
- Gabriela Hernandez, UCLA (2013)