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Trip to the Philippines Gives Anthropology Grad Student an Edge in the Field

Jose Sanchez describes his unforgettable academic and international journey


An interest in an ecologically sustainable lifestyle is what led Trent University Durham Anthropology graduate student Jose Sanchez to discover what would become an incredible anthropological learning experience in the Philippines through the Global Eco-village Network (GEN). Mr. Sanchez travelled to Palawan, an eco-village island where he lived while in the Philippines.

“Living in Palawan was a natural choice because of the high level of English fluency and its Spanish colonial past, which is not so different from my native country of Panama,” Explains Mr. Sanchez. GEN’s ecovillage communities are aligned in their commitment to reverse the gradual disintegration of supportive social/cultural structures and destructive environmental practices.

While in the Philippines, Mr. Sanchez researched the ways that anthropology can help to better our interpersonal skills, and developed strategies for dealing with problems that arise from working in a unique cultural context.

“At its core, is human zoology,” noted Mr. Sanchez as he described the field of cultural anthropology and the advantage this experience will give his career. “I’m learning how people create, destroy and manipulate their cultural landscape, and anyone who has an understanding of this, has the essential skills to decode the behavior and motivations of humans through their culture and society. It's hard to imagine how this wouldn't help someone in any career.”

Throughout his field study experience, Mr. Sanchez was consistently challenged to think critically, explaining, “I think anthropology throws you into the unknown like no other field in the social sciences. You must be prepared to think on your feet, and be ready to deal with unique ecologies and human interactions that you are, otherwise, not accustomed to.”

Mr. Sanchez graduated from Trent with a double major in Psychology and Anthropology in 2014, and with the help of Dr. Roger Lohmann, who Mr. Sanchez identifies as being “instrumental to his transition to academia,” is now working towards completing a Master’s degree in Anthropology.

Posted on Friday, October 28, 2016.

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