Hi. My name is TJ Thran and I am the first student ever to be working on the Cacique Blog Chore. In this chore, I help Ashley, the Blog Coordinator, with the task of editing the Cacique daily updates. This first blog is the orientation blog, written by individual advisories. It expresses some of the activities and events that are occurring around The Island School campus during our first couple of days here. One of the first truly exciting activities we did at The Island School was snorkeling around a small wreck off of the Boys Dorm Beach. Each advisory split up and quickly were photographed before going into the cool water for our first swimming experience. The pictures shown below are the photographs that were taken of each advisory group. Last night, our very first Caciques were chosen. Part of their duties as student leaders are to write the daily blog for our readers. Coming soon… the very first update from Caciques Jon Vrendenburg and Sarah Becker. [slideshow]

Hannah’s Advisory

They don’t quack; they hiss. As we toured the Island School farm, we learned this interesting trait of the Island School’s Russian ducks. It was the general consensus that the ducklings were far cuter than their parents, who had unsightly red beaks. During advisory time, we had the opportunity to tour the farm with our advisor, Hannah, and learn about all of the fresh farm products that the Island School grows. We started with the plants, which were held in recycled oil containers. We soon learned that the Bahamian soil is not kind to many species of plants. However, we also discovered that not all plants had trouble growing in the unforgiving soil; the invasive species casuarina tree from Australia thrived and overtook most of the other native flora. The Island School tries to control and utilize the casuarina trees by constructing all of its furniture out of them. Soon after, we looked at the goats, chickens, and pigs, which did not smell nice because they eat all of our compost from meals. The Island School farm provided us with a closer look at how people and animals feed and provide for each other in our ecosystem.

Matt’s Advisory – “Exploration vs. Navigation”

Hiking through Eleuthera’s lush forest and happening upon a beautiful turquoise bay, the Triangle Cut was majestic way to start our second day. Together we stood on the sharply cut rock and watched a school of Jack fish swim below. Even though the view was breath taking, we still didn't fully understand where we were. As we gazed out over the bay, Matt asked us “how do you know where you are?” Frankly, none of us had an answer. The Island School pushed us to consider our location when we had no bearings. We discussed the differences between exploring and navigation, coming to the conclusion that when navigating you have some place to compare your travels to while when exploring you have no destination. The Triangle Cut became one the first places on Eleuthera we could compare our location too, from home. Miss ya!

Vanessa’s Advisory

Today, we had an opportunity to explore the campus of Island School and interact with people. At one point, we found a map of a neighboring resort to the campus and we were asked where the campus was on the map even though it wasn’t marked. At first we thought we should look at Google Earth or other maps to figure this out.  David had other ideas.  As an advisory group, we decided to figure this out using our visual surroundings. When looking from stationary land wasn’t enough, we boarded a boat and went to look at our location from the ocean.  A classroom at The Island School is an abstract idea, rather than a confined room.  Instead of staring at a computer screen or looking at information other people discovered, we went on an adventure and had the opportunity to answer our own questions.

Rachel’s Advisory

The sun was beating down on dry earth as pods of Island School peers chatted in the shade, complaining about the annoying insects. Muffled excitement was evident in the faces of young Deep Creek girls who ventured over to say hello. Eager to reach out, yet insecure about the first connection, our first encounter was stirring. However, a quick, seemingly deep connection was beginning on the basketball court as Island School boys joined Deep Creek boys in a pickup game. As both groups sweated on the court, it became evident to those perched in the shade that we were about to embark on something special. Playing together, living together, and learning together could lead to ongoing friendships with the power to make a change in the community.

Peter’s Advisory

After a lunch of grilled cheese and some native delicacies, we all had the opportunity to go for a free swim off the dock at the boat house. This was one of the first of many bonding experiences to come, and the awkwardness and tension of strangers seemed to melt away in the Bahamian heat. Our lifeguard instructed us to jump off of the dock, feet first no diving. This caused grief to some as urges to flip and twist off the dock had to be withheld. The water was salty and refreshing, and warmer than earlier this morning when we had taken a community snorkel. We left the comfort and fun of the ocean and took “Navy Showers” quickly turning  the water on and off and then soaping up and rinsing off. This was in preparation for our Community Outreach Orientation at Deep Creek Middle School. After a hot and dusty bus ride back to our Home Base we broke up into advisory groups to learn more about what the next 98 days have in store for us.

Lissa’s Advisory

After a long day of traveling, we were all exhausted, and we didn’t know what to expect. A sense of independence overwhelmed us today and we were all a little uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. The thought of setting out on a 14-week venture without the comforting arms of parents had finally sunk in. The newly acquainted community all gathered at the boathouse and we familiarized ourselves with each other and the sense of things. Chris Maxey lead us in deep breathing exercises where our noses we greeted with the salty aroma of the tropical Bahamian air. We felt the cool breeze flow through our hair. We had a feeling of security and anxiousness. We are now aware with the challenges and triumphs that await us.

Katie’s Advisory

It was dark and the candles were lit, as we gathered as a community for the first time. No one knew what to expect. Maxey Stood up, and silenced us with his presence. He began by connecting our mind and body, perfecting our posture and giving us a sense of place. He made us aware of our peers, the ocean under us, and the wind around us. There was a strong feeling of community; we were all in this together. It was a defining night, that everyone present would look back upon as, Maxey called it, the beginning of our journey.

Jason’s Advisory

“1… 2… 3… Smile!” as the sun rises over our heads and the breeze tickles our skin. We all slowly wade into the turquoise shallow ocean with masks and snorkels in our hands. After an early wake up, the cool water brings us to our senses and shows us fields of conch shells. Floating over the inhabited wreckage, we spot a nurse shark frightened by our presence. The occasional sargasm  brushes against our legs while the waves sway us back and forth. Back on the beach we passed around brittle and pin cushion star fish as well as sea urchins, cucumbers, and conchs. As we held the starfish, its many arms latched onto our hands. While passing around our many specimens, we learned about these special creatures in the ocean.

Ellie’s Advisory

As life continuous in a self-renewing cycle, no resource is wasted. Every input has an output, every action has a purpose, and no action taken for granted. Through all our differing backgrounds and experiences, we adapt to the changes being taught to us. From every background, different adjustments are made as we learn to live with the environment, and not through it. No resource is wasted, including time. Time used to revitalize us, and the land around us. Taking our minute long showers, we are constantly made aware of the impact we have and what is available to us. Our adaptations are critical, not just individually, but as we grow into a community, on which we are learning to rely more and more. Ignorance is impossible, as our presences are constantly in contact with each other. We grow together, live together, and are drawn by not only our similarities, but also our differences. Turning our faces towards the horizon, we look eagerly to the future, and the change that will no longer lay dormant in any of us.

Nadine’s Advisory

We had arrived. The white buildings grew up around us, so new and unknown. The bus opened up and the salty humid air rushed in, engulfing us. The air was filled with nervousness, excitement, surrounded by people we did not know yet but would become our close friends. We all expected something different, but we had come here together. A path lined by bleached conch shells showed us the way to our first circle. We glanced around curiously at the strangers surrounding us, not knowing what to think. It seemed like moments ago many of us had been in the midst of frosted winter, counting the days until we would arrive. Looking around at the green foliage, turquoise water and orange sunset, we were all filled with disbelief that this would be our new home.

Dave’s Advisory – “The First Bond”

Snorkels in hand, we gathered in a circle in the morning sun as we prepared ourselves to begin our first adventure. Feeling the unfamiliar sand beneath our feet, we were hesitant about the situation at hand. Once broken off into our advisee groups, an awkward atmosphere had set in. Feeling insecure with our surroundings and the people beside us, we entered the water. Little did we know, in just half an hour, we would emerge out of the water with new bonds between us and new experiences that would begin to shape our relationships for the rest of our time at The Island School.

Ashley’s Advisory

On our first full day of our Island School adventure, we experienced our first hour of free time to enjoy our new surroundings.  Many of us used this time to go for a nice refreshing swim off the dock.  One of our first challenges was jumping into this new experience but we always had a buddy in arms reach.  Looking down from the dock laid a pool of unknown waters.  There was a slack line set up between two posts in the water and that seemed to attract many of the Island School students.  Although slack lining was not for everyone others enjoyed splashing around in the turquoise water and taking action shots of students jumping to catch a football in the air.  As we wrapped up this newfound exciting experience, our friendships with others were already forming and we couldn’t wait to see what else was coming our way.