Lightning Position by Olivia Gomez

“K3, place to be!” was the slogan of our group’s three-day kayak trip. I could not have asked for a more comical group of students to kayak and camp with for 3 days. We were a strong team of passionate individuals who were not afraid of voicing opinions or leading the group. When we left on Day 1, K3 was off to a great start. We were ready to get on the water and live off the land for three days. We stopped and snorkeled for lunch and then leisurely kayaked to our campsite, Broad Creek. For dinner we ate pasta and sauce but the best part of the meal of the night was the brownies we had for dessert. We all sat in a circle eating brownies with our little bowls and spoons while admiring the stars. Life was good on K3 and we went to bed happy and full and ready for Day 2. Olivia1

Day 2. Where to begin?! Tensions were high that morning as we figured out who was going to kayak in the double kayaks and who got to ride in the single kayaks. Voices were raised and everyone seemed. Our kayak trip to our lunch spot lacked the energy and excitement so evident on Day 1. We were tired and sore from sleeping on the ground, covered in bug bites from the no-see-ums, and grumpy about the kayak assignments. There was nothing to do but continue to paddle along and we stopped for lunch and snorkeled again.

After lunch, we had only just set back out on the water in our kayaks when it started to rain. We could see the dark mass of clouds rolling in from the horizon but we didn’t think it would hit us so soon. Then the thunder came, accompanied by lightning that lit up the sky. It was just our luck to be caught in the middle of a lightning storm during our paddle! We paddled to shore and huddled under a tree as a group. By now, it was raining buckets and I could barely see ten feet in front of me. The thunder and lightning grew louder and got closer and closer so we scrambled for our PFDs and assumed lightning position, squatting on the life jackets. We squatted in lightning position for over an hour.

To be very clear, that is a long time to hold a squat. Everyone was spread out along the shore, squatting on his or her life jacket and trying to ignore the thunder and lightning that was on top of us. I really thought we were going to get struck by lightning. There was one clap of thunder that was so powerful and loud that I toppled off my life jacket and fell on my face into the sand. I have never been so scared during a storm in my life because we were truly in the middle of it. There was nothing we could do but squat and wait it out. Occasionally, we would talk to each other or try to make a joke, but we basically sat in silence for over an hour. It was the first time I got cold since I arrived at The Island School. We were all shaking from the rain and dying to run into the warm ocean.

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When we thought the storm had passed, Leigh and Ashley gave us the thumbs up and K3 sprinted into the ocean. At that moment, we were a group. We weren’t arguing about kayaks or fighting over whose turn it was to be in a double. We weren’t calling people out for not cleaning up or not wearing closed toed shoes. We were just happy to be together. K3 was truly the place to be. At dinner that night, we went around in a circle and shared our rose and thorn of the day. Leigh’s rose was the lightning storm (mine was the brownies). We came together as a group, supported one another, and lived in the moment. The lightning storm was the turning point in K3 and we will forever share that experience with each other.

The Invisible by Anneke Sherry

A reflection piece for Histories class: Rock Sound, a settlement in South Eleuthera, is grounded by the history of generations living there. During settlement day 1, my group wandered around for a little bit until we found something that we thought really stood out to us as a part of the community, softball. By observing and analyzing on our own, we started to scratch the surface of what this place is like and what it’s made of. Afterwards, we came together to talk about the different things we observed. As a product of this, we also saw how worldview impacted the things we observed and how we interacted with the playground and softball practice.

Anneke Sherry's first High Rock jump

My worldview has been shaped and molded by a hodgepodge of different major life events, all affecting me on a large scale in one way or another. It first started when I was little. My oldest brother has ADHD and autism, my older brother has ADHD, and my mom also has ADHD. These things are only titles, but my experiences that came of these things, these annoyances, amounts to a whole lot. My young life didn't revolve around me. I was only a small gear in a very large chain of gears making the clock tick. The big gears were my brothers and parents people, but sometimes, they lost a cog. Time stopped in these moments. I was also the fixer, the fixer of the clock, the fixer of time. I had to spend hours tinkering away, trying to find a way to put the cog back in place without putting anything else out of balance. Even from a young age, I was very self aware and detail oriented, knowing how to read facial expressions and body language. I had to prepare for when something was about to go down. I ran around in the background making sure everything worked. There was no glory, but it was what my family needed to have done. Even though it put me through the wringer, I am glad I had those years to teach me how to act. It gave me a piece of mind, a sense of the real world not being all flowers and unicorns like my peers thought. Of course there were some major downfalls to this situation, like being more closed off and not having a strong family dynamic, but but over time I learnt to deal with these things.

A few years passed and I had gotten tired of my hometown. In 8th grade I decided to go to boarding school, but not any boarding school. I had applied to the most prestigious and most intense prep schools in the country; I wanted to go to Andover or Exeter. After much work and debate, I got into both but decided Andover was the place for me. I wanted the intensity, revolutionary exposures and mind blowing adventures. I had no idea what I started for myself. I had not anticipated the economic status of my fellow students and the institution, the hard questions I would have to ask myself about what it means to be me or face and challenge the politics and events about race, gender, sexuality, religion, and more. Although these were hard to deal with, especially as a teenager, it opened my eyes to the cruelties and possibilities of the world and forced me to delve deeper into what it means to be a human in this day and age. I gained close friends that were personally affected by many forms of oppression happening outside campus, and a community to lead me through dissecting these moments and attacking these problems. The people gave me inspirations, and the little things from Andover – community service, cycling, living in a dorm, and more, showed me another dimension of the world - both good and bad. I gained a very large slice of perspective and an additional slice of self-awareness that was unable to be given to me back home. Without Andover, I have no idea where I would be, but definitely not on this island and not even close to the level of thinking and point of view I currently have.

As another product of attending Andover, I left the country for the first time. This summer I went on a 2.5 week language, hiking, and cultural immersion program in Peru. I spent the first month of my summer traveling around Peru, experiencing Peruvian life and nature in the raw. Despite my love for travel, I was always held back by the limitations of my brothers. Even though I had exposed to a lot of the world problems in the U.S., I had never been exposed to another country in the same manner. On one hand, I extracted massive appreciation and information about Incan history and the culture of small spots in Peru, and in turn cultures all around the world, those I haven’t even encountered. Hiking through the mountain ranges for days, fully accepting and diving into the natural world. I also saw just the magnificent power of the human mind and capability. On the flip side, I saw how modern tourism and pollution is destroying these precious ancient site.

While in Rock Sound for my settlement day, my group wandered down to the Whale Hole in an attempt to find some locals. Despite the beauty of this spot, there were no people there since it was a Saturday. Just around the corner, schoolyard peeked out. Lead by the voices of a few young kids, we found a softball practice happening in the school. This was the place. This was the topic we wanted to learn about. I tried to take in everything from the details in the setting to why kids were playing softball in the first place. As Fiona Ross describes, anthropology is “a form of disciplined curiosity” (Teen Die Pad Die Bas, 9). I was simply sitting there, letting my mind run about anything I saw. I then tried to find relationships between what I was seeing and how it has shaped softball and baseball, or been shaped by their progress in Rock Sound. Fiona Ross cites Thomas Hylland Eriksen, who said the main task of anthropology is “to create astonishment, to show that the world is both richer and more complex than it is usually assumed to be” (Teen Die Pad Die Bas, 14). The first settlement day was initiating these thoughts and connections, but the second day allowed me to delve deeper into the bigger picture and the role of baseball and softball in the community. Both of these settlement days created my own astonishment. Saturdays are a rest day, suggesting to me that it would be calm and not much would be happening. But in fact, there was so much happening that I couldn’t absorb it all. The worldview of the locals in Rock Sound and past locals have shaped the physical land that we were interacting with, but also the people on the field. Everything they did from why they were playing ball to how they were playing. The locals we talked to gave us their version of information, a version created with their own worldview. Worldview was all around us. Unseeable and physically intangible, but it was surrounding us in the form of everyone who makes up the community of Rock Sound and any predecessors. This seemingly dead place surprised me, enhancing my own world view, but also those those of my group members.

My peers observed mostly the same things as me, but there were little snippets of information that missed my radar as I was observing something else. For example, I hard a few cars honking but I didn’t notice that they were honking at the kids, encouraging them and showing support. In another sense, I think I picked up on things they missed. I spent a little bit of my time exploring how the softball fit the natural world and how the natural world was interacting with this school. According to Fiona Ross, “all knowledge is produced in relation to others - those with whom we work, those with whom we share our ideas, those against whose ideas we set our own findings, and so on” (Teen Die Pad Die Bas, 12). By using the information that I missed from my peers, I got a more comprehensive grasp of the place. Although there was much similarity, just the difference in a few things helped tremendously. What creates these differences is by our worldview.

Our worldview tells our mind what details to pick up on, where to focus our attention. Our past experiences draw our focus into certain aspects to find connection between ourselves and the thing being studied. In The Cartographer Tries to Map A Way To Zion, Kei Miller explains the relationship between a local and newcomer, and how their worldview changes what is seen about the place. Where the cartographer sees a road, the rastaman hears the songs and history of the roads (The Cartographer Tries to Map A Way To Zion, 31). I tried to grasp everything while in the playground watching the softball practice. My attention to detail about the practice came from paying attention to my brothers, interpreting their every move. In a similar fashion as what I did for my brothers, I analyzed the softball player’s emotions and the coaches style of teaching. My care about the environment and the environmental interaction came from being in the outdoors. I naturally pick out the birds and the wind in the background, the trash on the ground, the plant and grass conditions from constantly having to be connected with the earth around me while hiking, cycling, and exploring. I made a lot of connections with Peru. Seeing what condition Rock Sound was in and the role tourism plays was very similar to that of the Peruvian sites that were once pristine and were now overrun by tourists and their residue. I found myself asking a lot of “What” questions, but more often I followed up with “Why” questions, even though I didn’t write them all down, I always took the next step into thinking. Andover has trained me to think about the motives and the explanation for my findings. Although I tried to remain unbiased, I think my bias came out when I was trying to find those answers. I didn’t know all that much about Rock Sound, so I had to use my best guesses from the Island School, back home, and anywhere else I had visited for an extended period of time. If I were to remain unbiased, I should have left those questions unanswered but being me, my mind automatically needs to probe around and think of possible answers before moving on. I knew they were only speculations, so I tried the best I could to make accurate assumptions but knew there was a good change they were not the right answer. Worldview impacts me and my fellow students daily, even in other Island School classes.

A main part of the marine ecology course is scuba diving at Harbour Rocks and observing a specific part of coral reef life each week. As the classes progress, I gain a more comprehensive understanding of the coral reef. These dives are very similar to settlement days. The better I pay attention to the rock, the more little details become apparent. If my mind wanders or I don’t spend the appropriate time looking at something, crucial elements are lost. Some of those moments are very rare opportunities, so it is critical that I keep my eyes peeled and attentive. Even though I have to keep eyes on the task at hand, I also have to always be aware of my surroundings and my own boundaries. If one isn’t attuned to the things around them, there can be serious consequences. In there same way, settlement days need full attention or else things can be missed. Although there isn’t a life threatening aspect to settlement days, surroundings are just as important and knowing the boundaries to show respect for the culture are critical in these situations. Although my job is to learn, I have to keep my comments and questions within reason.

My time at the settlement has been extremely positive, and I am so happy this project exists because otherwise I would have never known about the places like this on Eleuthera and the history behind them. Not only has it taught me things about the connections inside and outside of Eleuthera, it has taught me about my interest in culture and worldview. I never really thought about how and why we see different things, and that those things could be so deeply rooted in us as humans. Whether or not we use our worldview is not up to us. It is omnipresent. It has personally shaped each and every one of us into different people. My worldview has greatly shaped my time in Rock Sound observing and absorbing, as well as the locals who have provided me with the culture which I am learning and growing from. I hope to continue delving deeper into the ideas of culture and worldview with experiences such as these.

Rays and Lightning by Belle Buroker

At home, thunder and lightning doesn’t bother me. In fact, I kind of like it. It’s cool to watch and experience from the safety of my home or another solid building. Here at The Island School you never know where you’re going to be when a thunderstorm hits. You could be in the dorms, the dining hall, out in the field, or out on kayak.. Watching from the dining hall or the dorms can be fun. Watching storms while on kayak trips or out in the field is less fun but much more of an adventure.Belle2 This past Monday I was out in the field catching and tagging rays with my research team. Seas were choppy as we headed out on the boat to our research site and in the distance you could see the storm clouds rolling in. Eventually I was dropped off to investigate a bit of sediment that was kicked up. It was hard to tell whether or not it was a ray simply because it was so big. Pretty soon I figured it out though. It was a huge ray, the biggest we have caught yet. We used both a barrier net and black hand nets but this ray could barely fit. As we caught the ray and secured its barb we felt rain begin to sprinkle. By the time we started taking measurements of the ray it was pouring and Nick, an Island School teacher, and Owen, our research advisor, were counting the seconds between thunder and lightning. More than 30 seconds. We were in the clear just then but kept counting.Belle4

I had to run to the boat to get a notebook and sprinted the whole way. The water kept getting deeper and by the time I reached the boat it was up to my waist. I grabbed the notebook and started back, I have never been more scared in my entire life. We continued counting the lightning and the gaps were shorter and shorter. Finally we released the ray and everyone started sprinting back to the boat. We all reached it safely. It was a huge relief but adrenaline was still pumping through us. The five students all sat in the front of the boat facing each other. We talked and laughed and relived the moment that had just past. I realized the experience had brought us closer as a research group and taught us the power of mother nature.

For more photos of stingray and lightning adventures, follow our research team’s activities on the Island School Flickr page!

Goggles or Sneakers? It's Track Time by Christian McIntosh

When people think of Island School they usually think of the sustainability, kayak trips and maybe even lightning position, but rarely do we think of the run and swim tracks that accompany our daily routine. The six o'clock wake up time may be brutal but once we are out the door the energy of the morning sun soon energizes the faces around morning circle. However, the real fun starts after circle when we go off into our chosen tracks to either run or swim.Christian1

Run starts off with a little warm up around the horseshoe: generally a light jog dotted with stretches for the running muscles. Then we often head off of campus for the two miles to High Rock across the Cape. The path is a snake of concrete road which has even more potholes than the average Bahamian road. The run can seem endless with a false sense of hope, encountering decoy turn-offs to High Rock around every corner. Almost as soon as we complete the journey there, we’ll then turn around for the two mile return trip back to campus where the flagpole finish line greets us with a familiar feeling of satisfaction.

Similar to run track, swim track starts off with some stretching before their early morning plunge into the ocean. Now that it’s the third week of tracks, our classmates are now up to a mile-long, “Pole Swim” from Boathouse Cut to the Marina pole, usually they are given twenty minutes to swim there and 20 minutes to swim back. Much of the time swimmers encounter a current that can either make you feel like Michael Phelps or like you are actually swimming backwards, depending on the tide.

Both tracks show great energy and focus for their respective goals--to run thirteen miles for run track or swim four miles for swim track. What may have seemed like an impossible task in the beginning is slowly becoming possible with hard work and dedication, just two of the many qualities The Island School will instill in each student over the course of the semester.

Abby Gordon S'14 Returns as a Communications Intern

Looking back on my time as an Island School student, the question everyone asked was "will it be hard to leave this place and go back home?"  Although I met some of the most interesting people, grew immensely as an individual and became part of such a powerful community, I wasn’t sad to leave. I never understood why that was until I came back two years later. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I've learned that once you’ve been part of the Island School in one capacity or another, it never leaves you. The elements of this place have a subtle way of weaving into your life in everything you do. Inside I knew I’d always be back and two years later I am back as part of my gap year!

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For the first four months of my gap year (August-December) I am working at the Island School as a communications intern.  Working along with the communications team, I take photos of students and the various CEI research teams, as well as make videos to promote the goals of the School. I’m gaining incredible experience from this position and it’s fantastic being part of this community once again. Everyday I’m energized by the work I do and the people I’m around, which is sometimes a rare thing to find in a job.

Following my departure from the Island School in December, I am heading to Kauai, Hawaii for two weeks to travel and pursue photography opportunities. I am hoping the two weeks can be extended depending on what opportunities emerge.

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In early February I travel to Oxford, England to begin my internship with the Children’s Radio Foundation, which promotes radio programming by and for youth in many different African countries.  I will spend 3 months with the Foundation and I will be photographing local projects and working as a member of their communications team.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Once summer comes, I’ll be doing some solo backpacking around the UK for a few weeks before heading to Western Europe to backpack various countries from Norway to Greece. Come fall 2016 my adventures will head to the United States where I will be attending Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Undecided on my major, I’m keeping it broad and looking into anthropology, photography and journalism.

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Needing a break from traditional schooling, I am fortunate to have time to work on my own growth within the greater world. I’m taking a gap year because I believe in the power of travel, the value of interacting with humans outside of one's bubble, and the importance of supporting a community that is making the world better.  I know that for myself to grow as a person, I need to delve deeper into new places and experiences. Every day is a happy adventure and I truly have found my passion back here!