So this past weekend I came into my hometown tattoo shop to get my quarter sleeve worked on a bit. Over the course of the hour or so that I was there, my artist Chriss and I caught up on everything that had happened since my last time in the shop. As usual, my independent study course on body modification came up, and I eagerly told Chriss that I was planning to apply for a number of scholarships that would allow for me to do independent research this summer in a foreign country. I asked if he had any advice as to where I should go if I want to study a dying form of culturally significant body modification, and he mentioned that the Maoris of New Zealand would be an excellent peoples to look into. Upon talking about this prospect some more, I began to get really excited about the idea of studying the Marois, and so did Chriss. So much so, in fact, that he offered to come with me if I get a scholarship! I became further enthused when he reminded me that we could get traditional Maori tattoos if we go. Need I more motivation to kick this applications ass?
Traditional Maori facial tattoo
Just when I thought I couldn't be more pumped about the idea of heading to beautiful New Zealand to study body mods, I found this story on BME's Modblog. Please please please check it out, it's an amazing story. It's basically about a girl named Olivia who is only slightly older than myself and is currently in Tanzania studying the Maasai peoples. Olivia's own blog page recounts every last detail of her amazing journey. Reading about her experience made me want to steal my tattooist away from his shop and hop a plane to New Zealand immediately. But I restrained myself...
So, wish me luck with my applications; I'll be needing it. Hopefully my school recognizes that this experience may be the single most fascinating thing I have ever done and decides to fund it. Sure, if I don't go I can still spend my summer working and getting modified, but if I do end up going I will gain more than some ink and metal under my skin - I will have had the opportunity to be a part of one of the few remaining cultures who still modify as their ancestors did. I cannot even describe how much that would mean to me.