The Columns

My W&L: Craig Shapiro ’15

— by on September 5th, 2016

Craig Shapiro '15

“Faculty and staff have supported me in my pursuit of fostering a greater global perspective to bring back to Lexington.”

Over the past few years, the world has become smaller to me, as Washington and Lee has helped to exponentially expand my horizons. Faculty and staff have supported me in my pursuit of fostering a greater global perspective to bring back to Lexington. Being selected as a Leyburn Scholar and Woolley Fellow helped me gain archaeological field experience and cultivate my archaeological skillset in Europe and the South Pacific.

I am privileged to have lived in native villages while exploring the islands of Fiji and Samoa, done fieldwork on an island with no electricity, running water or cars–let alone roads–in southern Vanuatu, learned the hard way that hitchhikers have to walk when nobody picks them up, and excavated at classical Roman sites on an island off the Eastern coast of Spain and in Southwestern Bulgaria. In traveling abroad, I made countless new friends from a diverse array of backgrounds. My willingness to put myself in unfamiliar situations has nurtured my ability to adapt and my love for both exploration and discovery, while providing me with opportunities to forge relationships that created richer experiences while abroad.

My adventurous habits have fueled my growth as an individual and brought me leaps and bounds closer to being prepared for life after W&L. In this sense, I find myself in a unique position as an aspiring Peace Corps Volunteer. I saw first-hand in Samoa and Vanuatu the incredible impact volunteers can have on a community and personal reward they gain from their service. I also witnessed the issues of working in the developing world and the difficulties of living in some of the most remote, culturally different places on Earth.

As a result, my remaining time in Lexington has been focused around sharing my newly widened perspective and urging other students to similarly expand their horizons. Obtaining a greater understanding of the world is an essential part of a liberal arts education, and the communicative character of the W&L community promotes getting to know one’s professors and peers on a personal level. This is one of the main reasons that I chose W&L, and I’ve been fortunate to gain so much from its collaborative nature and benefit from relationships that will surely continue after I move on from my undergraduate experience.