Will Gernaey

April 20, 2018

Gernaey
“The best courses to take as an anthropology student are not the ones you think you’re going to be interested in, but the ones that will challenge you," says Will Gernaey, "Because I think if you really want to be interested in anthropology your goal is to come into contact with different ways in which people live that are unfamiliar to yours.”

Inspiration

What inspired William Gernaey’s interest in anthropology is rooted his in childhood travels around the world, “ever winter break and every spring break and every summer break I was traveling somewhere out of the country, so by a young age I saw a lot of the world,” which was what “really opened my eyes to culture and how different people live.”  Most influential was his trip to Tanzania, Africa in a Maasai village where he analyzed how a local community was commercially converted into a tourist attraction where people come to visit and “expose” themselves to an unfamiliar culture. He discussed how the children “were doing the alphabet, “A B C D E,” all the way through and people would come in a take pictures of them reciting the alphabet and then I came back ten minutes later and they were still doing A B C.” William began to recognize the irony of what commercial tourism does to a culture, or the authenticity of one’s culture.

The Bone Room

William’s journey inched further when he interned in the Bone Room at Monterey Peninsula College, which gave him connections to the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History where he volunteered. Here, his passion flourished working with museum collections, interacting with mentors, and making connections within the local community. William is now interning as the Lab Manager of the Comparative Osteology Laboratory of the Anthropology Department for UCSC where he says that, “getting the lab was really awesome” because he is able to showcase the skills and experiences working with osteological specimens that he has accumulated through his past internships, volunteering, and life experiences. William expresses kindly how, “Richard has been really great because he is a boss, in a sense that he lets me explore and try and fail and he’s okay with that.” As a peer and mentor, his words of wisdom will be a guide to all students that, “The best courses to take as an anthropology student are not the ones you think you’re going to be interested in, but the ones that will challenge you, because I think if you really want to be interested in anthropology your goal is to come into contact with different ways in which people live that are unfamiliar to yours.”