Rachel’s Story

My name is Rachel Dorlene Emerine Hicks.  I could identify myself in many ways.  I am an anthropologist, Ph.D. student, lover of nature, wife, sister, daughter.  I am white, cis-gender, a woman, the oldest child, a military kid.  I was born in Washington state, but have also lived in multiple cities in California, in Florida, and in Guam, as well as traveled to every continent (except Antartica), staying for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.  Each of the things listed above is just a small part of who I am, but they, as well as other things, combine to make me who I am and influence how I see and experience the world.

Me in the Solomon Islands August 2018

Currently, I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at UC San Diego. I will conduct fieldwork in the Solomon Islands from September 2018 until November 2019. My research looks at rural-to-urban migration for secondary students in the Solomon Islands.  Particularly, I plan to examine how schooling prepares students for life after school, especially those who have to drop out of school early. This project builds on my other projects and experiences in the Pacific.

In the early 1990s, my father, a Navy doctor, was stationed in Guam.  I loved growing up on a tropical island, snorkeling, playing in the rain, and learning about a new culture.  In 4th grade, back in Washington state, my teacher taught us about Papua New Guinea and a song in Tok Pisin.  From that time I longed to go to PNG.  To fulfill my internship requirement as an undergraduate studying Anthropology, Intercultural Studies, and Applied Linguistics at Biola University, I finally traveled to PNG! I lived in a rural village for six weeks, learning Tok Pisin, playing with kids, studying cultural change, and helping with basic linguistic documentation.  After this experience, I decided to pursue an M.A. in Linguistic Anthropology.  For my M.A. research at California State University, Long Beach I spent two months in a rural village in the Solomons studying why Engdewu, a language spoken by 200 people, was endangered. Each of these experiences increased my love for the people, languages, environments, and cultures of the Pacific, which is why I continue to conduct research in the Solomon Islands.

I am excited to teach a course on the Pacific and share my love for and experiences in the Pacific.  I also look forward to the interesting discussions we will have as we learn together about library analysis and explore colonialism in Papua New Guinea.  Finally, I look forward to learning from the diverse perspectives that each person brings to this practicum.

5 Comments


  1. Wow! It’s so great that you’ve had those opportunities! I hope to one day be a world traveller, or at the very least lived in another country for a short bit.

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  2. Hello Rachel, I enjoyed reading your bio. My father was also a military man in the Army, so we seemed to be constantly moving. As a result I was born in Frankfurt Germany, and have lived all over California and Arizona. I too love to travel and have been all around Europe, and just recently got back from a twelve day journey in Japan. I am impressed with your motivation to pursue a Ph.D. and your love for discovering new things about Papua New Guinea. It is admirable to know that you discovered your love for Papua New Guinea at such a young age and never lost sight of that eventually living out your dreams as an undergraduate spending six weeks in a rural village of Papua New Guinea. This is definitely something to take inspiration from as you have proven that dreams do come true with time and hard work. Being immersed in a culture for long periods of time, as you did with Papua new Guineans, I think really makes the knowledge and understanding of a particular culture more real, rather than just reading books and articles. I look forward to the class, and to your personal knowledge of the culture, and your views/opinions of Papua New Guinea, as you have had a more intimate interaction with the people of New Guinea.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this, Rachel, as well as your photos you showed during class. Your background and connections to PNG are so interesting and I can’t wait to hear more about your experiences. I am curious to know how and when you became aware of either the kiap reports specifically or the Melanesian archive generally? Looking forward to class tomorrow!

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    1. I actually didn’t hear about the Melanesian collection until I was applied to the Anthropology program at UCSD. As for the patrol reports, once I was attending UCSD, the previous librarian Melanesian archive librarian, Kathy Creely, told me about them. I have never used them for a class or project though, so I am excited to explore them with you all!

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  4. That’s exciting news to hear that you’ll be conducting research in the Solomon Islands for a year. I hope that once I finish my undergrad that I’ll be able to travel around the world more. Also, my little cousin is about to start school in Biola University this fall!

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