Digging in: Nevada Union student took excavation trip of a lifetime | TheUnion.com

Digging in: Nevada Union student took excavation trip of a lifetime

Photo submitted to The Union by Brandi Chambers. Nevada Union student Brandi Chambers excavates a site at Tell Es-Safi, Gath, Israel in the summer of 2012.

What: Presentation of Israel excavation

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 5

Where: Nevada County Gem and Mineral Society at Golden Empire Grange, 11363 Grange Court, Grass Valley

Cost: Free

For an aspiring young archaeologist who studied the Old Testament, an excavation trip to Israel was a dream come true.

At least that was what Brandi Chambers, an 18-year-old Nevada Union High School senior who took an archaeology class from William Jessup University, said after she visited Israel with her professor and some classmates.

“It was a really, really great trip,” Chambers said. “Definitely an eye-opener on how much hard work archaeology does take, but it was very, very fun.”

Chambers said the trip, which took place June 24 to July 25, 2012, offered an ability to experience artifacts from the Biblical stories from the classroom.

After going to Israel, that just made my passion in archaeology grow even more.
Brandi Chambers,
Nevada Union senior

“What I learned from David and Goliath in church really came alive,” Chambers said. “We were at a site called Gath, where Goliath grew up and lived and it was really cool knowing I was digging in a location where Goliath was and having that be part of the history of our religion.”

Chambers originally found out about the class and the trip through a friend.

“My friend was taking a class from a professor and she knew that I was interested in archaeology, so she got us connected and we got to know each other, so I got in (the trip) through a professor at William Jessup and she saw my interest in having that become a career path for me possibly; and she was taking a few students over in a study abroad type of thing and she worked it out so I could come along.”

Chambers’ enthusiasm and interest could be detected right away, said Cynthia Shafer-Elliott, assistant professor of Hebrew Bible Department of Bible and Theology at William Jessup University, who first introduced Chambers to the history and archaeology of the Old Testament class.

“I was telling her about the class and she seemed really interested,” Shafer-Elliott said. “But I didn’t think much of it because she was going to be a senior in high school and it’s an expensive trip, but I met her parents and they knew she was really interested in it, so she signed up.”

Not only was Chambers’ enthusiasm evident in the classroom, but during the trip as well, Shafer-Elliott said.

“She had a great attitude, was willing to volunteer for just about anything and really just get in there and learn as much as she could in the few weeks we were there,” Shafer-Elliott said. “Brandi was always the first to volunteer and help out, not only because she’s friendly and sweet, but because she knew she would learn more that way.”

Though uncovering hidden gems of history was a fascinating experience, Chambers said it was one that came with long days and elbow grease.

“It is very, very hard work,” Chambers said. “We worked from 5 a.m. and we had to be up and have everything set up and we worked until 1 p.m., then went back and had lunch and then we did pottery cleaning and had to clean them out and put them in trays and then in the sun to dry. Then we had pottery reading, where we sorted the pottery and had to see what we’re going to discard and what we’re going to keep, what’s significant and what’s not, then the lectures; so it was definitely a long day’s work, but it’s all worth it.”

The ability to meet people from around the world was another benefit of the trip, Chambers said.

“Now I have friends from several different countries,” Chambers said. “Greece, France, London, Brazil, Israel, and I met one of my best friends on this trip who is Australian.”

Chambers will present a video from her trip at 7 p.m. today at a meeting for the Nevada County Gem and Mineral Society, of which Chambers is a member.

“Brandi has been a member of our club for many years,” said Lori Woodhall, president of the Nevada County Gem and Mineral Society, which helped Chambers fund the trip. “She’s just a great kid, so when we heard she was going to be doing this, we helped her fundraise some of the money to get her over to Israel.”

The society’s willingness to assist in fundraising made the trip possible, Chambers said.

“I think it’s awesome because they love to really get their kids out in the field and experience what it is,” Chambers said. “They are really a huge help in reaching out to youth and to the community and if you do want to do a trip, they are really supportive and tried to help out to fund the trip as best they can.”

The Nevada County Gem and Mineral Society where Chambers will present her trip is located at Golden Empire Grange, 11363 Grange Court, Grass Valley, CA.

Chambers said the trip fortified her interest in pursuing a career in her interests.

“I looked into job opportunities in archaeology and there aren’t many, so I decided to get a major in geology and a minor in archaeology,” Chambers said. “So I can still have that incorporated into my life and have that as an option to do excavation work or get a side job at a dig.”

The hard work and dedication to the site were well worth it, Chambers said.

“After going to Israel, that just made my passion in archaeology grow even more,” Chambers said. “It is definitely a program I would recommend to other students.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4230.

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