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Hello everybody! This is Caroline S. and Louis, your caciques of the day signing on. Yesterday morning we started the day off with a community run-swim where all the groups in the community—us, the young men’s leadership retreats, the staff, and a few interns—gathered at circle and sang the national anthem and then began the run swim through the cuts to the sea wall and back to campus.  After losing just two people this time to sharks (just kidding) we proceeded to our morning classes.  In Marine Eco the cocoplums participated in many activities focusing on the interdependencies of species in the food web, using a rope to represent the connections between the organisms in the Bahamas Shoals.   We created a human pyramid to show the effects of a trophic cascade on an Ecosystem.  Later in the afternoon we applied these skills in scuba. We each observed the organisms noting how their form is connected to their function. 27568268414_edc2fe5343_zThe broader Island School community participating in a run-swim!

That night we were able to participate in one of the best opportunities we have had so far: listening to and dancing with the Eleutheran students from the Young Men’s Leadership Retreat. They were national champions in 2015 for the Junkanoo championship, and the experience was so much fun. Using drums, cowbells, scrapers, and bass instruments, the men created incredible beats while we all danced around and Maxey blew the conch horn. The performance surprised us all—the men played so well, creating a memorable experience for all.

28179260325_337f6a2f49_zStudents participate in research in the Exuma Sound

Though Louis wanted to choose a quote from a sunscreen bottle for the quote of the day chosen by the caciques, we ended up choosing “adventure is out there”.  The highlight of my (Caroline) day was when I was scraping out the sink snacks during dish crew, sink snacks are left over food scraps that clog the drains. Yum!

This is Louis and Caroline S., your caciques, signing off!

Summer Term 2016: Cacique Update #3

Hello from sunny South Eleuthera! This is Robert and Silvie, your caciques for today, signing on. First off: a big thank you to Aadam and Zoe for handing off the cacique responsibilities to us. We are very excited to be the leaders of this fine day. imageHammers practice their SCUBA skills

Now down to what we all want to hear about….Yesterday: Thursday, June 30. We started the day off right with some stellar Bahama style french toast doused in honey (as a substitute for maple syrup, as a Vermonter this was strange for me to wrap my head around, but it was actually super tasty!) Then, the Hammers suited up and got in the water to continue our scuba learning. My group finished up a few lessons in the morning and then in the afternoon we went to “Something to see” and did our first open water dive. The current was pretty strong and we were all getting tossed around a bunch and we didn’t actually see much at “Something to see” but we all had a blast anyways. Then we all ate a hefty dinner and parted ways for our evening lessons. Hammers had our first night MarEco (Marine Eco) class where we learned about what we will be doing these next few weeks (it’s exciting so stay tuned!). After that a bunch of us hung around outside to admire the stars (which are amazing out here) and play with the kittens! On campus there are three kittens (and counting) plus a big skinny cat and a big, big, BIG, fat cat — Fritter. We all love them, unfortunately it’s not mutual.

imageStudents explore the Rock Sound caves on their SERT

Yesterday the day started off early with a guided meditation led by our previous cacique, Aadam. The Tigers 2, which I am a proud member of, embarked on the SERT (South Eleuthera Road Trip). During our trip we headed down island and passed through the local settlement, Deep Creek. While in Deep Creek we visited a local grocery store and scoped out the most local item, which were fiery Eleuthera Hot Peppers. Also, we were able to find the item from farthest away: seaweed imported all the way from South Korea. After visiting the local shop we headed to a large and beautiful banyan tree, where we all reflected on the Danger of the Single Story in our place books. Next on our trip we visited a blue hole. If you’re wondering what blue holes actually are, they are massive craters filled with salt water that can stretch hundreds of fee† deep. While at the blue hole we were given an amazing opportunity to snorkel and explore the area. After we finished up swimming and exploring in the crater, we all sat at a nearby gazebo and ate some of the most amazing sandwiches around. Next on our trip we we visited deep caves and encountered some amazing wild life, including a few large banana spiders and bats that were resting above our heads.

imageThe shade of a Banyan tree offers students space to reflect on their roots

We cannot wait for the adventures that tomorrow holds—diving, classes, and a tour of the sustainable systems of The Island School, CEI, and CSD. Thanks for reading! This is Silvie and Robert, your caciques, signing off.

Summer Term 2016: Cacique Update #2

Hello everyone! This is Zoe and Aadam, the second round of caciques for the summer term, signing on. As mentioned in the last blog post, our large family was split into two smaller communities: Tigers and Hammers. Conveniently, we are each in separate groups. The Tigers are first spending their time this week learning more about Eleuthera and how to explore, while the hammers are spending their time in the water learning to assemble their kits and start their first dives, safely.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.25.12 PMAn advisory checking out "The Loop"

On June 24th the Tiger 2s went on a “learn to explore” trip around the cape of South Eleuthera. We all took our bikes out and rode through the run-down mazes of the abandoned resort. We took a pit stop in a shrubby clearing, after seeing the only live mahogany tree on the island, to write in our place books. While looking around the jungle we listened while Anne, a teacher, read poetry. A rainstorm began and Jane, Alex, Mirelle, Roxy, Tilly, Teja and I(Zoe) played out in the raindrops. After the rain, we headed to the beach and snorkeled. We ate sandwiches and cassava chips (yum) by the ocean. We floated down the current cut (a kind of lazy river) two times and had an amazing time watching the sharks at the marina. The funniest moment was when Trewin, Alex, Roxy, Jane and I made a chain along the current. The current was too strong and pulled some of us past the bridge into the lagoon. After Nathan saved us, we all headed back to our bikes and rode on to the Island School campus. It was an amazing day and I hear all the other students raving about how the days seem so long and full. I love how active and motivated this place makes us feel. The rush and speed of each day is definitely life changing.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 5.40.22 PMLearning to Explore!

On the 24th of June the Hammers went scuba diving. In the morning we learned how to set up our BCDs and our regulators. Later on, in the afternoon, some of us went on our first dives, while others, who already knew how to dive, helped the beginners. We went to the saddle for our first confined dives. My group got through all five of our confined water dives, so that we would be able to go on our first open water dives the following day. One of my favorite funny moments of the day was when my bike broke before even making it out of the shed. It was nice to see how other students would help each other when their bikes broke down on their way to the saddle by fixing their chains. It was also nice to see how other fellow students would offer to carry other people’s gear because some bikes don’t have baskets. On our exploration time, some students discovered their candy limits at the marina store, while others stayed on campus and listened to music or went to the current cut to watch nurse sharks and other aquatic life.

27384683644_c185f8eec5_zStudents Silvie and Shelton feeling the SCUBA love

We are both very thankful for receiving this opportunity and responsibility. Thank you Shelton and Mireille for choosing us as caciques. Best wishes to the future leaders of the Island School Summer Term 2016. Adam and Zoe, signing off.

Summer Term 2016: Cacique Update #1

Hello everybody! This is Mireille and Shelton. Yesterday we were chosen as the first caciques of the term which is such an honor for us. Hearing the word cacique may first bring up an image of quiche as it did for some of us, but a cacique is actually another word for leader. Many centuries ago, before Columbus arrived in the Americas, there were the Lucayans who migrated from South America. Their communities functioned well under the wings of their cacique, a wise and humble tribe member who put others before themself.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 8.54.50 AMSummer Term 2016 group shot!

We have all arrived safe and happy at the Island School. We can’t begin to tell you the amount of joy and anticipation that was felt when we learned of all the things we would do on the first days. Orientation was filled with amazing adventure: we woke up at 6:30 AM and went snorkeling at a wreck site where we learned of Cat’s (one of our teachers) fondness for donkey dungs AKA Sea Cucumbers. On the second day we got a taste of Bahamian weather with awesome thunderstorms and rain. Following the storm we went to a sand bar where we learned about oodic sand, how it is formed, and how exfoliating it can be. another highlight was defiantly doing dishes while rocking out to great music.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 8.45.10 AMRockin' out on dishcrew

Now we have split up into two groups, Tigers and Hammers, and we’ll be working on getting our Scuba certification as well as exploring more of the island on South Eleuthera road trips. Tigers, who are doing the South Eleuthera road trip, started their morning with the first run swim, a great experience in which everyone cheered on their buddies. Hammers started their morning today with going to the boat house to get ready for their scuba learning. Everyone is ready to start this week with a bang and we are all so excited to be here.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 8.55.57 AMSummer Term 2016 Teachers

We are Mireille and Shelton, your caciques, signing off.


Alumni Spotlight: Maddie Hawk (SP '10)

Maddie Hawk from the Spring 2010 Island School recently graduated from DePauw University with a double major in English (literature) and film studies. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Moarter Board and spent a semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark followed by a summer at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea as a research intern. She has also taught English and American culture skills to refugee immigrants in the Indianapolis area as an intern for Exodus Refugee Immigration. Most notably however, Maddie has received word that she is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and will spend the 2016-2017 academic year in South Korea teaching English. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and established in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition aims to increase mutual understanding nations through educational and cultural exchange while serving as a catalyst for long-term leadership development.

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When asked to reflect on her time at The Island School, Maddie responded with:

“The Island School prepared me to immerse in any culture I might find myself in, which is imperative to being a cultural ambassador. Through community outreach programs, I knew how to engage with younger children and work with them in an extracurricular setting.  I remember Island School and my time there fondly. Just the other day, I was talking to my friends about SCUBA diving and reflecting on night diving and how amazing it was. I think that Island School prepared me for Fulbright in a number of ways. I’ve studied abroad three times, and Island School was the catalyst for it all. I never would have gone to South Korea or Denmark on my own without believing in myself. I can’t put into words how my time at Island School affected me, changed me. It prepared me to be an adult, taught me independence, self-sustainability, and gave me the confidence to tackle everything that is thrown at me. I don’t think I would have applied for a Fulbright without the Island School behind me. I approach the world differently, more openly. I remember one time, walking through the Eleuthera community, being completely un-phased by the many men carrying machetes. One family stopped a group of friends and me, offering to let us watch them skin a dead pig. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I approached the situation openly, watching with rapt curiosity at a way of life so contrasting my own. The Island School granted me a confidence and security in myself, something that developed my comfort at approaching the world differently and seeing things through different perspectives. This mentality aligns perfectly with the mentality of a Fulbright scholar, someone who believes in the exchange of cultures and ideals with an open demeanor. Thank you always, Island School.”

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After her Fulbright experience, Maddie plans to continue her studies and pursue a Ph.D. in Film and Cultural Criticism. "My goal is to study how film interacts with culture, but also to explore the Korean film industry deeper as it is something that fascinates me. After my studies, I aspire to be a professor of film, and to begin a Korean cinema studies program at the university I teach."

Congratulations Maddie! The Island School cannot wait to hear about your adventures in Seoul and beyond!