Students spend the week before departing on expeditions working through “midterms.” But at The Island School, midterms don’t include exams. Though there are preliminary grades recorded and sent home, the more important parts of the midterm process revolve around reflection and goal setting. Throughout the week, students are given a number of opportunities to reflect on their academic, social, physical, and personal journey through the first 45 days of their Island School experience and set goals for the remainder of the semester. Flora's advisory has chosen snippets of that reflection to share with you here.
Lulu – Querencia Time
Reflection at The Island School was a very unexpected piece of everyday life. When you hear about daily life, it’s just the basics. Being here you learn so much more than academics. You learn about yourself on a much deeper level. Querencia time carves out long blocks to prepare for your two day solo. We take time to think about nothing. To center your mind, to calm nerves, to reorient yourself to what it means to connect with people, and with a place. You really do get out what you put in. Students are given a placebook, similar to a journal, to record thoughts, feelings, memories, and whatever else you need. Placebooks serve as a log, in which students can review their own growth and understandings throughout the semester. Rarely at home or at school are we taught to connect with ourselves. Reflections during such an influential time period allow us to take what we will from our time here. During this break from the business of everyday life, there is no where else to be, nothing else to do, but to be present. Present with ourselves, present with a life-changing place.
Sophie – Advice From Home
“Don’t doubt your power.” This is the last piece of advice one of my best friends from home gave me before I left for The Island School. As I embarked on my Island School journey, I kept this mantra in my mind constantly. I knew that she knows me better than almost anyone else, but I didn’t realize how much this advice would transfer over to my experience here so far. This past week has been full of heavy reflection in light of midterm Demonstrations of Learning, so I’ve been thinking a lot about my growth over the past month and a half. In particular, I’ve been reflecting about what not doubting my power has looked like for me. Back home, I have never been very confident in unfamiliar situations. Coming here, it was hard at first to take my friend’s advice. However, I have slowly embraced the challenge over time. So, what does it mean to not doubt your power? So far, I’ve seen this advice manifest itself in many aspects of my Island School life. When I push past my nerves and bring in a new opinion or challenge someone’s idea during a Histories Harkness discussion, I am trusting in my power. I also see this when I strike up a conversation with someone new or speak up about something in the dorm. Just a few weeks ago, I was named Cacique (a student leader) for the week, and I had to assert myself in situations as a leader. Looking back, this was a big moment where I did not doubt my power. I was confident in my abilities and shared them with others. Looking forward, I hope to continue gaining confidence and trusting in my power. At The Island School, I am given so many opportunities every day to take risks and grow as a person and leader. But I know I can only take advantage of these opportunities if I don’t doubt my power. Maybe I’ll even discover more of this power here!
Grace F. – Gratitude
This past Wednesday, the stingray research team set out on Anita’s Smile to to catch rays at the sandbar. On our way there, clouds rolled in, obstructing the sun, and rain started to fall. The clouds made it impossible to see the ocean floor, preventing us from catching any rays. When moving to our next possible location, the rain started coming down even harder and we had to return to the Boathouse, not having even stepped off the boat in attempt to catch a ray. With no time to even warm up or dry off, we headed back out because the rain had subsided. We crashed through the waves on our way to Paige Flat, freezing water rising over the side of the boat and into all of our laps. I was shivering, soaking wet, and just wanted to go back to shore. I was looking down at my lap, eyes closed, bracing myself for the next freezing cold splash. When I lifted my head, I looked out at the ocean and realized that I would so much rather be here, uncomfortable and cold, than anywhere else. Where else could I be on a boat, searching for wild stingrays to contribute to never-before done research? Even though I wasn’t fully enjoying myself, I still had to appreciate that I was here, in the Bahamas at The Island School, and think about how grateful I am for that. At Island School, there’s no time to dwell in negativity, rather there’s only time to look for the positive aspects of every situation. Although the weather made our ray-catching efforts unsuccessful, I still felt so lucky to have had the opportunity to step out on that boat that day. Being actively appreciative of every situation, especially the little and seemingly insignificant moments, is so key in order to get the most out of my experience here. This semester will provide me with so many opportunities that I wouldn’t get anywhere else and for this, I’m incredibly grateful.
David K. – Choosing Run Track
So far during my time at the Island School, I can definitely say that it has been both extremely mentally and physically demanding. An example of this is when the students are challenged five out of the seven days a week during morning workouts, also known as AMX. Personally, I decided to participate in run track hoping to complete a half marathon at the end of the semester. Here at the Island School, AMX is very important to me. Coming here my biggest role model was my sister Eliza, who attended the Island School in the Fall of 2013. She did run track as well and has stuck with running up to this day doing even longer runs such as the Boston Marathon. I wouldn’t exactly say that I felt pressured into doing run track however, she was a strong influence and a big reason as to why I chose run track over swim. Just like Eliza, I hope to stick with running post Island School.
Emmett – Goals
At the Island School, I’ve thought that while much of its public description is accurate, there are parts that it leaves out as well. I’ve gone SCUBA diving for class, spent hours reflecting, learned about myself, and been a part of a special community. However, just like back home, there’ve been tougher parts as well. For the first few weeks I felt like I had trouble fitting in, and I still worry about relationships sometimes. I feel like I can’t always get as much sleep as I need, and because of all the hype and positivity I start to feel bad when I’m not having a good time. I think about the financial cost, and worrying that I’m not justifying my family’s investment with my growth and experience. Despite the beautiful location, the positive culture and amazing people, problems exist here just like anywhere else. In the long run, though, I think that’s probably a good thing. If the Island School is the only place where I can be truly happy, what would that mean for the rest of my life? I’m only here for a hundred days, and hopefully I have much more ahead of me than that. Although I know I’ll keep having a great time, I don’t want the rest of the semester to be the highlight of my life. Instead, I hope that I learn how to build that sense of attachment I had back home in new places, to live better in a community, be more independent, and to spend more time in self-reflection.