Mondays: Research Days
One aspect of the Island School that is so special and unique is Mondays: research days. Every Monday, students spend the day with their research group, either out in the field or back in the lab. To give some background on just how amazing these days are, I will use my group, Lionfish Physiology, to help give an example of what a research day looks like. Each day has been a field day so far, so we’ve spent a lot of time in the water. Today, my group and I got all of our SCUBA gear ready, hopped on the boat with our two research advisors, and spent about seven hours in and out of the water looking for lionfish. We went to many different reef patches and developed a system. First, a few snorkelers got in the water to free dive and look for lionfish. Then, if any were found, we would get in our SCUBA equipment, bring nets and gloves, and work together to catch them. Each research project is different though. The Stingray research group went to the Schooner Keys for the day, captured three rays, and had a field lunch on the beach. The Aquaponics research group spent the day harvesting lettuce and tomatoes for our kitchen here on campus, and fed the bad lettuce to the chickens on our farm. Although each group has very different experiences, they are all extremely beneficial to us and give us a lot of time to gain knowledge through hands-on work about these topics that we chose. I can’t wait to carry out our experiments with this invasive species we are catching off the reefs around us, and to be able to share that information!
Thursday: Advisory Time
Hey everyone! On Thursday of last week, we had a whole half day from lunch onwards allotted for advisory time. Our advisory went down island to the settlements. First we stopped and explored some really cool and rather large limestone caves in Rock Sound. After getting lost in the cave system, our next stop was the Rock Sound Market. We bought every snack and more that we needed to fill our stomachs, and then headed over to the Ocean Hole. It was then at the Ocean Hole when we feasted, but don’t worry, we waited at least thirty minutes after eating before jumping off the cliffs into the water.
Friday: Farm Event
At an average Friday morning circle, students tend to sleepily wander out of their dorms, sleepily sing the national anthem, and then sleepily run or swim 2-8 miles. However, this Friday was no average Friday morning. On this Friday morning, one of the pigs on the farm was being slaughtered, causing a slew of mixed reactions and emotions all over campus. At 6:30, the air in circle was abuzz with energy and nervous whispers, many people worried about seeing a live animal killed for the first time. The previous night Leigh had given a lecture, telling us how the morning would go, what to expect, and what we should be wearing. At 6:35, armed with closed toed shoes and long pants, we began filing over to the farm, where the pig would be harvested. It was a cool morning, with the first signs of light beginning to break on the horizon. While we waited at the compost pile for the animal to be fetched, Leigh began to describe the uses that all of the pig’s various body parts would be put to. The meat, of course, would be eaten, the organs cooked or used for dissection and education, and the bones ground up and used as fertilizer. After 15 minutes of this, we saw the pig being walked down towards our location. As was intended, it did not have any idea of it’s impending fate, and seemed to be happy as a clam. I won’t go into the details, but its death was quick and painless. After it was dead, we helped the farm staff go through the process of cleaning the pig, removing the organs, and harvesting the meat. Many students were fascinated, some were disgusted, but all of us were glad that we had gone and seen where our food really comes from.
Saturday: Settlement Day
The Green Turtles and the Hawksbills were the first humanities classes to travel off campus. We packed our bags of possibilities and met at the flagpole at 9:15am, sharp. With wide eyes and charged cameras we gathered with our respective classmates, ready for our first “Settlement Day.” Settlement Day is a day trip to a settlement near The Island School campus. Rock Sound and Tarpum Bay are the two settlements classes visit, and you spend three days there over the course of three weeks. Within our class groups, students are put into smaller groups and our teachers give us projects every week to be handed in for class. With the assignment in hand, we assemble our groups, and march around the respective settlements. Along with the assignments, our job is to get to know the area as best we can. Without being too “tourist-y,” we take our cameras, our notebooks, and our buddies and wander around. We observe, interview, and maybe even buy a snack or a trinket at the local market. The ultimate goal of Settlement Day is to immerse us in the Bahamian culture and ask important questions about our surroundings. Our first trip was this past Saturday, and it was so incredibly interesting. Even though we had less time than we thought we would have, the experience was more than we could have ever asked for and was truly unique in every sense of the word. Before attending The Island School, never in my life would I have thought that I would be walking the streets of the Bahamas with my classmates as a way of exploring the Bahamian culture. Settlement Day is only one of many opportunities that we have been given to “dare greatly.”