Twelve Upper School students from Friends Seminary in New York City recently traveled to Cape Eleuthera with Science teacher Kerry Kline and Experiential Ed teacher Jack Phelan for an amazing week of hands-on learning and personal challenge. Below are reactions from two students, Simon and Christian. Thanks to our Educators Laura Franklin and Scott Aland for a unforgettable week. [slideshow]
When the group first arrived at CEI, there were definitely a few grumbles about the bugs, the lack of water for showering, and the “let it mellow” rule. These qualms quickly disappeared as we got into the heart of the program that made up our stay at CEI. Waking up that very first morning to snorkel the mail boat wreck just off the beach and seeing a juvenile lemon shark hiding among the rotting wood was enough to make us realize just how much this experience would offer. We were not done with lemon sharks either. Not only did we learn about shark physiology and the dangers facing shark populations today from Ian -- the Lemon Shark Project manager -- but we also assisted Ian, Mike, and Lindsey in their field research of lemon shark nursery mechanics, and we caught the first lemon of the project from Waterford Creek.The research also helped to show us just how misunderstood sharks are -- that they are not as dangerous as popular opinion would have us believe. Our work with Dani out on the patch reefs was also successful, doing species counts on two different reefs.
Aside from the research, we gained many other valuable experiences. When our kayaking overnight was canceled due to rough conditions, we instead took a two-day down island trip by van to see geological and natural phenomena and absorb some of the culture. Seeing the Glass Window bridge, the Hatchet Bay Cave, and the Rock Sound Cavern and Ocean Hole were truly spectacular, eye-opening experiences. We also received exposure to Bahamian culture and food in Gregorytown and Governor’s Harbour, where we talked with shopkeepers and dined on cracked conch.
A key theme of our stay at CEI was overcoming our fears. The most notable of these fears was one of jumping off High Rock, a fear that gained total consensus among the group. As we stood on the edge of the precipice, we were terrified at first, but after much coaxing and deep breathing, we made the plunge. Once we had jumped, we realized just how easy it actually was once our feet left the rock and sped towards the water rushing up to meet us. The meaning was clear. Overcoming fear is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one, a challenge to be faced head on, a goal to be achieved. So perhaps the next time we have the chance to try something new that might seem daunting, we might muster up the courage to try and succeed.
The trip to The Island School was an incredible experience that, unfortunately, was once-in-a-lifetime. While making ties with kids from all over the US and getting to know my peers more, The Island School allowed me to view the world differently. What is necessary? The thought of not taking a ten minute shower everyday was disgusting to me when it was first proposed but after you try it, a ten to twenty second "navy" shower is all you really need to be clean. The other nine and a half minutes are just a luxury. Through this sacrifice I began to value what I had back at home: a seemingly neverending supply of water. While learning about the conservation and the preservation of water, we also learned about sustainability. The way that The Island School uses all of its resources and then finds a way to reuse them is inspiring and provokes ideas and desire to make our city and school a little more "green".
The Island School also allowed me to enjoy life and nature. The adventures that we were taken on by the incredible Laura and Scotty were scary at first but once we were doing it we enjoyed it; for example jumping off of High Rock, going into an unknown cave that made us go through muddy water, having a mud fight in said cave, going 30 feet underwater in SCUBA, snorkeling in patch reefs, and TOUCHING a live shark. Nowadays we are so attached to technology, but this trip showed me how unimportant a cell phone is and how much more you can be doing with your life if you are not attached to the media/internet/phone. It was hard to come back to the very fast-paced life of New York City, but the melancholy feeling on the plane ride back allowed me to reflect on all I had done and learned on Eleuthera. I am excited to capture and bring back this experience that I had and show it to my community so that we can move forward to create a more sustainable and conscious community. Thanks to The Island School experience, I will always carry this important lesson with me: What good is knowledge without action?