The Island School has opened my eyes to countless experiences that have changed my life. From kayak trips to free diving opportunities at 6:30 in the morning, I have been a part of endless and exciting moments. The greatest activity I have encountered is hands down scuba diving. The ability to breathe underwater is simply amazing. I was so scared at first because I thought so many things could go wrong: equalization, running out of air, mask problems, or even encounters with sharks or sting rays. After a week of certification drills, scuba diving, without a doubt, has turned into my favorite activity. I have seen a variety of cool marine life, spanning from stingrays to barracudas to lionfish. Recent dives have included trips to several coral reefs and a shipwreck. The more dives I go on, the more experience I gain. While I still use more air than anyone else here, I have improved my swimming to become very efficient underwater. I am able to avoid coral and marine life through inhaling to rise and exhaling to sink. We have found ways to make dives even more fun, such as by playing rocks-paper-scissors shoot or by bringing fidget spinners into the water. Diving has opened my eyes to a new world underwater, and I feel so fortunate to have this amazing opportunity.
Permaculture has taught me a lot about the world around me and it’s only the second week of research class. Before arriving at the Island School if someone asked me where my food came from I would say “the grocery store”. I had never thought about food miles before or the carbon footprint just one can of olives can leave behind. I had never thought about how food insecurity in small island developing communities could be a problem, or how their annual import budget can be up to one billion dollars. Food insecurity is lacking affordable and nutritious food and in the permaculture research group we talk a lot about how we can try to be less food insecure. We do everything from moving chickens to eating chocolate to weeding to reading lots of articles. We just read an article about the “ramen epidemic” in the Bahamas and how in some communities the fresh fruit is tomato paste. We also read articles about aquaponics and the future of food and sustainability. We use this information to figure out the most effective way to use our space on campus. Most of the land is dry and dusty and won’t be good for farming but the Island School is very food insecure and permaculture is trying to fix that. Permaculture wasn’t my first choice as a research class but I’m glad I got it. Although sometimes it’s long hours in the hot sun or reading tough scientific journals for homework, I look forward to my Monday research days.
On Thursday, everyone had advisory time after lunch. Some advisories went to the beach, or to the market, but we teamed up with two other groups and went SCUBA diving together. Before this dive, I didn’t really get what was so appealing about being thirty feet underwater with heavy equipment strapped to your back, but as soon as I got to the bottom I understood. The water was really clear, so I could see fish swimming along the reefs even twenty feet away from me. When I looked up, I could see the bubbles from everyone’s breathing floating to the surface, where the waves were making the sunlight move. It’s like a whole other world. And when you kick off from the bottom and drift over a reef, it feels like you’re flying.
While I have only been here for 20 days my time here has already become extremely precious to me. From learning to scuba dive to going on kayaks trips with my friends I have realized just how special this place is. My most memorable moment that I had since I stepped off the plane at Rock Sound Airport has been getting my scuba certification and going on dives. I have been snorkeling many times before I learnt to dive, and I didn’t think that there would be a super big difference between SCUBA diving and snorkeling. After my first breath while my entire body was completely submerged I totally changed my mind. It was a magical experience and it has made me love this place and feel closer to it more and more every time that I dive.
Over the course of my 22 days here at the Island School, I have had the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people from a variety of different backgrounds. Every day I meet someone new, whether it is in the lunch line, or out in the field on research, I have become part of a new family. Although my 22 days here have felt like a lifetime, this 100 day journey I have embarked on with my classmates will forever last a lifetime. Today during my research class, the Turtle research team spent an entire seven hour day only to catch one singular green sea turtle to conduct an esophageal lavage on. The patience and determination it takes to catch these incredible creatures is hard to describe with words. This morning for our morning exercise, we had our first timed run-swim. The day as a collective whole came to an end with a Lewis and Clark Journal entry for my Literature and Writing class. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have been able to experience here at The Island School, and would like to thank my teachers and family for this journey we have all just begun. As Alan Turing once said, “Sometimes in life, it is the people no one can imagine anything of, who do the things no one can imagine.”