Archeological dig in South Africa!

$2,050 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 28 people in 46 months
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Mary Shirley  DENVER, CO
Pinnacle Point, South Africa

Turning your entire life around at the age of 29 is not easy. It takes work, money, more work, stress, blood, sweat, and tears.

And money. Did I mention money?

I've spent almost my entire 20's working in food service. Be it coffee, booze, or steak, my living has almost entirely been made by serving the general public something they will ingest. While this is a perfectly acceptable way to make a living... I need more. I'm not getting any younger, and I have a lot more to offer than my winning, customer service smile.

But what's a woman with a BA in Theatre supposed to do? It took me years to finally settle on something I felt I'd be really great at, that I could make a living at, and that would let me contribute to the world at large. After much soul searching and a lot of experimentation, I finally decided to pursue a Master's in Biological Anthropology.  

I hounded a professor at the local university until she agreed to let me sit in on her course (for no credit and no money), and through my participation she agreed to put my name in for a program in South Africa, digging in the dirt for two months at an early, modern human site. When I got the news I had been accepted on her recommendation, I was ecstatic.

Here comes that word again: money. While the program provides us with room and board while there, we are responsible for paying our way to and from South Africa, as well as paying all of our bills while we are gone. I immediately procured for myself three jobs, and began working 70-80 hour work weeks. I've been doing that now for two months, but I am still short (and, honestly, very tired).

Excavation in progress

I need help and I therefore turn to the internet, in the hopes that you, kind stranger or friend, might see yourself in me. That you may be able to recognize the untapped potential in someone who wants to dig in a cave for the rest of her career, maybe her life, for the small possibility of expanding human knowledge and understanding; someone hungry to expand, to shine her own light in the ethereal darkness. Someone who needs to pay her bills.

Contributing to this endeavor will not be without its rewards. On top of knowing you are helping someone live her dreams, I keep a travel blog. So you will be able to live this adventure vicariously through me to the very best of my abilities. I will try to teach you a little about Africa, anthropology, and humankind.

I will also be eternally grateful, and vow to pay it forward whenever I may be in the position to do so. Should we ever meet in real life, you will receive one very sloppy kiss on the mouth in gratitude.
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Update 6
Posted by Mary Shirley
45 months ago
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Guys. Dudes. Guydudes. Ladies and such.

I leave a week from today.

I am so excited I might have to rob a bank to get out all this extra energy. But that wouldn't make sense, because every single one of you gave me money out of the kindness of your hearts and I've reached my goal. I am going to South Africa, and those of you in Colorado will see me at The Oriental Theatre in September when I get up to talk about it.

Everyone everywhere is welcome to follow along at my travel blog (should you be so inclined), which you can find here:
http://goatonacow.blogspot.com
I will try to update at least three times a week depending on what my internet looks like when I am out there.

Thank you. Seriously everyone, thank you. When I started this campaign I thought I'd be lucky to get a few hundred dollars, and I remain utterly floored at the amount of support people have been willing to show me to help me fulfill my potential. I honestly don't understand at all, but I am so very humbled and I want you to know that. I will send those good ripples forward into the world as I move towards something better than what I have now.

All my gratitude to you kind donor. Keep on keepin' on.
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Update 5
Posted by Mary Shirley
45 months ago
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I leave two weeks from today, and I have $45 more dollars to raise if you want to see me present my time in Africa on stage at the Oriental Theatre in September. I find the prospect of getting on that stage far more terrifying than the prospect of going to Mossel Bay for two months, but I'd be happy to share what I learn and spread the nerdism at Denver's very own NerdNite (as well as give those who know me endless fodder for future embarrassment).

Thank you again to family, friends, boyfriend, family of boyfriend, acquaintances, strangers, former classmates, and everyone in between who has chipped in to make this trip possible. I remain floored by your generosity and I hope you get just as much out of this trip as I can give you.
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Update 4
Posted by Mary Shirley
45 months ago
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I leave a month from yesterday and only $400 more to go. This is insane! I cannot believe the amount of support people are willing to show in order to help me achieve this first step toward a life lived to the fullest. I cannot thank everyone enough, but I will try. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This means the absolute world to me and I am a better person for knowing each and every one of you (even those of you I don't know at all).

I will post the link to my travel blog as the date draws near and I do hope you all will follow along with the adventure your money is helping to fund. You deserve to come on this trip with me, and I'll do everything I can to make sure you feel like you're right next to me in that cave. Onwards and upwards!
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Update 3
Posted by Mary Shirley
46 months ago
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I don't... I can't... How did I get so lucky as to have been given almost $1,500 in a week? You people are amazing, incredible dream makers and I don't know how I'll possibly ever repay the kindness I've been shown (but I will surely try).

As unbelievable as it is to say, I'm almost there! I couldn't have even imagined it before, but on the off chance I do somehow manage to raise more than the goal of $2,000, anything extra will go directly into a savings account to pay for school. When I get my first paying job in my field, I will gift that money directly back to someone trying to better their own life (or lives). It would be the least I could do to pay all of this forward.

Thank you again to everyone, I am humbled by you on every level.
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$2,050 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 28 people in 46 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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Created April 2, 2015
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TP
$50
Tyler Polich
45 months ago

Go be an exciting person doing exciting things in exciting places. Best of luck!

CM
$45
Chris Morrow
45 months ago

I'm jealous of your badass trip. You better bring back lots of badass stories to make us all even more jealous. (Note: stolen priceless relics which grant wishes will also be accepted in place of stories)

RF
$30
Rebecca Franco
45 months ago

So excited for you!!

$25
Anonymous
45 months ago
$20
Anonymous
45 months ago
AS
$30
Abby Schmautz
45 months ago

Have a grand adventure!

ML
$25
Marcus Lee
45 months ago
$25
Anonymous
45 months ago
MA
$50
Matthew Anthony
45 months ago

Just a little bit more to help push you further to Africa! Love, Matt and Ian

DB
$100
Dean Bellin
45 months ago
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