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Washington College Professor Bill Schindler, left, uses a stone as a hammer while his co-host cat Bigney looks on during a scene from “The Great Human Race.” The show premiered Feb. 1 and airs at 10 p.m. Mondays on the National Geographic Channel.

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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STUDIOS PHOTO BY TAHRIA SHEATHER

CHESTERTOWN — Applying to the field what you teach in the classroom is one thing, but doing it during harrowing experiences in the middle of nowhere on national television is another matter.


Bill Schindler, an associate professor of anthropology at Washington College, took a sabbatical last semester khổng lồ be a co-host on National Geographic Channel’s “The Great Human Race.”


In a Tuesday, Feb. 2 interview, he said the network had been developing the show for a few years. He said he was contacted early last year via his LinkedIn tài khoản by a recruiting agency.


“I looked at the message và thought it wasn’t real or that a student was playing a joke on me,” Schindler said. “However, my wife said I should talk khổng lồ them và so I did.”


He said that after several interviews in the North Carolina woods, he was selected due khổng lồ his extensive knowledge about primitive habits, lifestyles, diets, toolmaking & more.


“I’ve spent my entire life foraging, trapping, hunting and fishing,” Schindler said. “They basically wanted a professor who gets his or her hands dirty.”


Pete DeLasho, showrunner for “The Great Human Race” & an executive producer at National Geographic Channel, said Tuesday the network did an extensive search before finding Schindler.


“It’s not often you get a guy to lớn not only talk about evolution and make it interesting, but also knows how lớn make the tools needed. He’s a really rare find,” DeLasho said.


“We didn’t want it khổng lồ be a wilderness survival show or documentary,” Schindler said. “We wanted it be authentic, have a message and be as real as it can be.”


He said “The Great Human Race” is the “story of all of us,” meaning it retraces the migrating journey humanity’s ancestors took, which began more than 2 million years ago and across different continents.


From last May to November, Schindler và his co-host, mèo Bigney, a survival & primitive skills instructor from Colorado, were dropped into remote areas around the globe, using only their knowledge of primitive survival methods and reliance on each other to endure the conditions.


“The slots were for a male and a female, khổng lồ represent the human race,” he said. “We also used our experiences & boiled it down to lớn accessible information for interviews with the cameras.”


Schindler said one of the show’s draws is a restriction placed on the hosts in each episode. They must adhere lớn the rules of a certain point in our ancestors’ journey and use only the resources found in the chosen timeline.


An example is the first episode, which takes place in Tanzania. Lớn carry on, Schindler & Bigney had khổng lồ use the simple stone instruments mankind did when tools were first invented lớn hunt, create shelter và protect themselves.


“Each episode is in another location, with the tools and accessibility changing khổng lồ fit the time we’re representing,” Schindler said. “We won’t make fire until episode two.”


“Things were so intense that the cameras just seemed to disappear while we were filming,” Schindler said. “I was starved, dehydrated, facing wild animals, you name it.”


Schindler said one such encounter occurred in the first episode, while the hosts were walking through chest-high grass on the savannah in Tanzania. He let his guard down through a knee-high section when, suddenly, a lion rose up before him.


He said he followed safety procedures và stood his ground while simulataneously making himself appear larger. After a few intense moments, the lion went away.


“It was lượt thích being in a fight, where you think it lasted forever but really was only seconds,” Schindler said. “My legs were shaking even after it went away. I still haven’t really processed it yet.”


He said to lớn him, the show’s message is about the shared heritage of the human species, regardless of race or ethincity, & how everyone’s ancestors have the same origins.


“Through our experiences in each episode, we’re celebrating the similarities all of us have that come from the ancient past,” Schindler said.

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He said an underlying messages is the relationship evolution & dietary needs have with one another, as in “what we have access khổng lồ versus what we can eat.” Another message is the effect technology truly has on human life.


“Biologically, humans are the weakest of animals. We don’t have claws & our teeth are inferior,” Schindler said. “What we bởi vì have is our brains, và that lets us invent things and helps us interact with the environment.”


He said he never imagined he would ever be on television và the fact that he appears on National Geographic Channel is an added bonus.


“The channel is reputable and it’s something I grew up with, which fed my passion,” he said. “To be on TV and have the purpose khổng lồ teach what I love ... I don’t even think I’ve processed it yet.”


Schindler said the show also allowed him lớn traverse the globe for the first time ever, & visited countries like Tanzania, Georgia và Mongolia, which he deemed the perfect family vacation spot.


Schindler and his wife, Christina, live in Church Hill, along with their children Brianna, Billy & Alyssa. He said having lớn be away from his family for most of last year and at such distances was hard.


Schindler said he enjoyed working on the show và that the crew was amazing. He said working alongside Bigney was “a true education,” given their different backgrounds.


“We were two different people who came together for the purpose of problem-solving,” he said. “We definitely had khổng lồ rely on one another to get through all of it.”


DeLasho said working alongisde Schindler was fantastic and that he “found himself listening to lớn him talk all day long about evolution.”


“He taught me a lot và it was lượt thích a graduate course in archaeology,” he said. “He was very easy lớn get along with and truly put his time in.”


Washington College held a special public viewing of “Dawn” Saturday, Jan. 30, which Schindler and DeLasho attended và said a few words about the experience.


Emily Chamlee-Wright, the college’s provost và dean, said Tuesday the viewing was a huge success & that it was a packed house. She said the college was proud that Schindler is not only on television, but also that he’s teaching what he’s passionate about.


“He’s approached this project và dived in because it will enhance his journey as a teacher and a scholar,” she said. “He’s doing this because he has the primitive background & knowledge. Not many people on the planet have that full array of skills.”


Schindler said this season of “The Great Human Race” is 10 episodes long. The next episode, “Fire,” takes place in the jungles of Uganda và follows the journey of Homo erectus.


“I’m immensely proud of this project và everyone that’s worked on it,” he said. “It’s a great feeling khổng lồ have.”


For more information on the show, visit www.chan nel.nationalgeographic.com/the-great-human-race. For more information about Schindler, visit his trang web at www.ancestralinsight.com.




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