Mason Phibbs

Within the IMPERO Project Team, Mason is best known for his wide-eyed curiosity, extraordinary politeness and consideration for others, and for his constant drive to learn more, do better, and be better. The nineteen-year-old History and Political Science double major and Math minor from the University at Buffalo entered the wholly new experience of the Monteverdi Archaeological Field School with open arms—despite having minimal experience with manual labor of this sort, Mason’s characteristic work ethic, always the first one to begin working and the last to stop, and sense of teamwork has carried through. He is always at the ready to lend a helping hand for his peers and supervisors, whether it be hauling heavy rocks or demanding pickaxing, and balances wonderfully the contribution of his own ideas and leadership as well as reaching out to allow others to direct and speak. These skills of interpersonal collaboration and navigation draw largely from Mason’s high school experience in Project Lead the Way, a freshman to senior year Engineering Program that closed with a year-long group project. This project fostered communication amongst peers toward achieving a final goal, organizational skills, and problem-solving—a passion of Mason’s that fuels his interest in math. These collaborative skills have allowed this student to put his best foot forward on site and to experience firsthand “a discovery of the past” that this field school provides in the way Mason believes Archaeology does best. Although a science, there is a fleetingness to excavation that separates it from the other scientific disciplines. An excavation cannot be repeated; it is an action of uncovering that can never be undone or relived, and Mason feels this difference through his relationship to both archaeology and physics. Previously his major, physics was a dream of Mason’s framed by images of Albert Einstein and other great scientists around his room. Both fields require a tremendous amount of planning, adherence to methodology, and careful execution, but Mason’s passions for archaeology and for physics stem from different sources—the former blossoms from a love of reclaiming the past, whereas the latter is all about heralding a new future.

Beyond past and future, however, the IMPERO Project has offered a vibrant present for Mason. His sense of teamwork has grown into friendships with his peers that somewhat resemble those of his tight-knit group of friends back at home. For this lover of learning, one should surround themselves with people that reflect back the qualities they value in or desire for themselves; at Monteverdi, Mason feels enveloped by people who are intelligent, hard-working, and good-natured, and he believes that this sense of intimacy has developed from living and working so closely together on a daily basis to achieve a common goal. Although he no longer wants to be a scientist, archaeology’s fond looking back into the past and friendship’s warm reminder of the present dispel fear from Mason’s heart. He has many years to decide what he wants to be and what he wants to do, and all of the people and experiences he encounters along the way will uncover a bright future—one that can never be reproduced.

Text by: Elisabeth Woldeyohannes

Photo by: Riley James

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