This past March, Katy Kobzeff, who grad­u­ated from North­eastern in 2008 with an inter­na­tional affairs degree, set out for Egypt to com­plete a project she’d begun nearly two years before. Her task: to piece together a detailed net­work of dig­ital images doc­u­menting the walls inside Egypt’s Tomb of Menna. The walls are described as part of one of the finest painted, non­royal Egyptian tombs open to the public today.

They were images Kobzeff was familiar with. She had taken many of the pho­tographs her­self during a six-​​month intern­ship with what is known as the Tomb of Menna Project, a USAID-​​funded archae­o­log­ical con­ser­va­tion effort.

That fol­lowing May, Kobzeff joined a five-​​week, faculty-​​led Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram called “Egypt and the Global Com­mu­nity,” which immerses stu­dents in Egyptian cul­ture and lan­guage. “When I arrived in Egypt, I didn’t know how to say ‘hello,’ ‘yes,’ or ‘no,’” recalls Kobzeff. “Now I can have full con­ver­sa­tions with people in Egyptian Arabic. It’s amazing how fast you can learn the lan­guage when immersed in it.”

When the Dia­logue group left in June, Kobzeff remained in Cairo until Sep­tember before joining project director Dr. Melinda Hartwig and her archae­ology team in Luxor, Egypt, to begin work on the Menna Project.

I was imme­di­ately fas­ci­nated by this overlap of two fields I loved—photography and his­tory,” she recalls. “This was where I first learned about the pos­si­bility of using ultra-​​violet light and strong-​​side lighting [a dra­matic use of pho­tog­raphy lighting that spot­lights part of a scene and casts the rest into shadow] to get more infor­ma­tion about the wall paint­ings, and the method that the ancient Egyp­tians used to apply the painting.”

When it came time for her to return to North­eastern, Kobzeff knew two things: she wanted to travel more, and she wanted to return to com­plete work on the Tomb of Menna Project. And she accom­plished both. Less than a year after a semester-​​long study-​​abroad pro­gram in Belgium—three days a week of classes at the Lou­vain Insti­tute for Ire­land in Europe and two days a week working for the Euro­pean Union—and grad­u­a­tion, Kobzeff had the oppor­tu­nity to go back to Egypt and com­plete the work she’d started.

It was the Dia­logue course and her other inter­na­tional expe­ri­ences, she says, that estab­lished the inter­na­tional con­nec­tions and self-​​confidence for her to make that dream a reality.

In the end, says Kobzeff, the Menna Project was a suc­cess. “We are all very proud of the results,” she says. “We are hoping that it greatly helps the archae­o­log­ical doc­u­men­ta­tion process there.”

Kobzeff now hopes to put her toolset of pho­tog­raphy and tech­nology skills, as well as her knowl­edge of Egyptian Arabic, to work on other sim­ilar projects. “I am looking into where else the fields of human­i­ties, art, cul­ture and his­tory merge with pho­tog­raphy, com­puters and tech­nology,” she says. “There seems to be a whole group of people out there who strive to con­serve and doc­u­ment his­tory and cul­ture through these non-​​invasive ways, while making it more easily acces­sible to the public. I would love to be a part of this move­ment and am looking into dif­ferent grad­uate degrees in that field.”