Bill Beck '11

Bill Beck '11
Bill Beck '11 (left) says the quality of life at the Poggio Colla Archaeological Field School in Tuscany, where he joined a team in excavating a site settled by the Etruscans from the 7th-2nd centuries BCE, "needs to be experienced to be believed."
Bill Beck '11 is a Greek/Latin major from Sayville, N.Y. He spent his sophomore summer at the Poggio Colla Archaeological Field School in Tuscany, Italy.

Before I entered Swarthmore, I had no interest in Latin or Greek.  But when I took Professor Rosaria Munson's ancient history class, Democratic Athens, and read works from the big names of 5th century Athens, I suddenly wished I had enrolled in beginning Greek that fall.  From the beginning of the semester, Rosaria enthusiastically encouraged students to take advantage of the Classics Department's opportunities for summer funding and when I approached her with the idea of taking Greek over the summer, she gave me full support.

So, with full funding from the Classics Department, I attended the CUNY Latin/Greek Institute in mid-town Manhattan, an intensive program in which students learn 3-6 semesters of college-level Greek in 10 weeks. The Institute's spectacular and unforgettable teachers were just as committed as the students (faculty are literally available by phone 24 hours/day to answer the occasional emergency Greek question). The result is an academic rigor that is unmatched, and the most fruitful 10 weeks of my life.  While I can't say I remember many details from my life in New York, I remember (almost) all my Greek. Thanks to funding from the Classics Department and Greek Institute's wonderful instruction, I came back to Swarthmore equipped with a new language, ready to start a new major.

The next summer, with encouragement and significant funding from the Classics Department, I went to the Poggio Colla Archaeological Field School in Tuscany, where the team excavated a site settled by the Etruscans from the 7th-2nd centuries BCE.  Excavating on the hill during the day and listening to lectures by night, we learned archaeological practice and Etruscan history both by experience and in the classroom (whose backdrop is a vineyard and Tuscan hills).  The quality of life needs to be experienced to be believed; it has all the benefits of an abroad experience, but at Poggio Colla the experience includes home-cooked Italian dinners to die for.