The PKAP website is up and running, at least mostly. There are still a few bad links I am finding every now and then, but I think the current incarnation is the way it is going to be until the summer. We released another documentary short this week. "Former Student Advice" is a created from footage Joe Patrow shot at IUP before the 2007 fieldseason. He took some time out of his busy schedule and flew to Indiana where I arranged interviews with former PKAPers, as well as students joining PKAP for the first time. I had the opportunity to watch most of the interviews as he was shooting them and was struck by 2 things: 1) They all talked about the heat and the sun – and I have to be honest that since we moved our season to May/June it really hasn’t been that hot. Now the year we were there in August, it was hot and humid; 2) They all kept looking at me as they answered the questions. It made me wonder if they were going to say something like "Don’t go!" or "Run for your lives." I was worrying for no reason – they all actually said nice things.
I will say that I have been pleased with several things regarding our student volunteers so far. 1) They have, for the most part, worked hard and got along well with others; and 2) A large number of them have gone on to graduate school. Over the last 4 fieldseasons, we have had 18 volunteers who were currently in school, either as an undergraduate or graduate. Out of the 10 who have graduated so far, 9 have gone on to grad school. I realize that this is not a huge number compared to other projects, but I still feel that participating in PKAP has helped our student volunteers in many different ways.
There are also drawbacks, because when students work closely with faculty members, much of the mystique (if there is any) about being a professor goes away since you see them at their best and worst. After 3 or 4 weeks of sharing close quarters, you learn a lot about people – probably more than you ever wanted to. For example, on PKAP you learn that if you have a question that might be stupid, you go ask David – he is the nice one of the three co-directors. You also learn that if you ride in the car with me, you better be prepared to play the Movie Game and that I am a poor loser – not that I lose very often.
Hopefully this field season will go as well as past fieldseasons, volunteer wise. We are expecting 3 IUP undergraduates, 1 IUP grad student, 4 Messiah undergraduates, 1 Penn State graduate student, and 1 UND graduate student. We plan to continue the PKAP blogging we started last summer so you will learn how things go for this group of students.