I recently returned from a trip to Ghana, where I spent a week at a conference discussing the most effective ways to help lift the poorest people out of poverty in some of the poorest countries in Africa. It's not a scene I could have imagined a few years ago, when I was frantically grading finals for an introductory archaeology course, finishing edits to an article on kiln sites in southeast Arabia, and just beginning to consider an exit from academia.

I had spent four years teaching archaeology and ancient history at a university in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). My plan was to spend a year (maybe two) in Abu Dhabi, then return to an academic position in the United States (US). But a month after I arrived in the UAE, the financial crisis struck, and already scarce tenure-track positions dried up entirely. One year turned into two and...

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