Lauren Maida: After an anticipated intro to sign-out and bike sing-out, Sp ’12 lead the way to our first exploration of the vast and beautiful surroundings of the Island School campus on our recently accessible bike shed.  As we biked to the Marina and Sunset Beach, I noticed all of the amazing people, activities, and landmarks that I would have the opportunity to explore for the next 100 days.  Riding by, allowing my mind to drift to all of the exciting possibilities and memories that could potentially be made there, I realized that this semester is not just about the activities that Island School faculty will get us involved in and all of the added daily responsibility associated with being a member of the Island School community, but the duty we have to ourselves to live each moment to the fullest for the next 100 days, learn as much as we possibly can, and grant ourselves access to the endless possibilities that all contribute to the personal transformation that Island School has promised is possible.  From that moment, with my place book in hand attempting to grasp the handle of my beach cruiser, I knew that this semester would be filled with boundless opportunities for growth and discovery in a variety of different personal and communal forms…if we only let ourselves to experience it all.
Surayya Diggs: Upon arriving to the Island School my biggest worry was the athletic component of the program.  Today we had our first morning exercise and it was a short run followed by a swim and we only had 35 minutes to complete the swim component.  My lucky day.  I started off the exercise by running at a steady pace, not needing to be the first person at the goal, but keeping myself from stopping for a break.  Once we arrived at the swimming destination we stretched and prepared for our quarter mile swim.  When an instructor told us where we were swimming to, the distance was so far that I could not even see the people waiting on the other end.  Despite the past experience I had in swimming, this did not look like something I could do.  I began swimming, doing what I remembered.  I was able to swim for about 20 seconds before I looked up to see everyone else 30 feet ahead of me.  I felt myself giving up after that, especially when salt water began to dry my throat and fill my nostrils.  When the supervisors saw me slowing down I was given a tremendous amount of encouragement.  One man told me “you can do it” and “only a little bit further” and once in a while engaged me in conversation to take me my mind off it.  After what felt like forever, I had made it to the finish line in 29 minutes (about ten minutes after everyone else) and I felt better about myself than ever before.  I had pushed myself towards a “loftier goal” as it says in the Bahamian Anthem.  I pushed myself and completed my personal goal: complete the exercise no matter how long it took me.  I surpassed this goal and ended up coming in 6 minutes before the deadline with half of the students and teachers from The Island School cheering me on.  Throughout I was telling myself that I would not stop, I would make it.  I can’t even explain the empowerment I felt when I completed the first swim-run.  This accomplishment has prepared me for an even bigger task and now I have the confidence to take it on.

Conor Smith: So far I have seen and experienced many things that blew me away. Even on the plane ride over I was gazing down upon an impossibly clear and blue ocean. But the moment that struck me as the “coolest” had nothing to do with the seemingly endless beauty of The Bahamas. I was standing on the porch of Boys’ Dorm rubbing my neck because I had forgotten sunscreen and, naturally, earned myself a painful red sunburn. Peter noticed my discomfort and immediately pointed to a plant and said, “This plant, here, is Aloe. Let me put it on your burn and it will feel much better.” I said yes as I was searching for any cure. He carefully snapped off a leaf, broke it in half and coated my sunburn in natural Aloe. Needless to say, it alleviated my pain. I don’t use the packaged Aloe sold back in America because it has simply never mitigated the pain. But this broken in half leaf made me completely forget I had ever even had a sunburn. I knew that some plants could be used for medicinal purposes, but I had never experienced it first hand and I guess I figured a natural medicine couldn’t work nearly as well as one developed in a lab with modern technology. This one worked even better. I now realize how ignorant it was to believe that human made medicine and technology could best everything this earth has been developing and evolving for billions of years.

Max Spencer: I felt someone nudging me awake. I looked at my watch and saw the numbers, “6:15” flashing in front of my eyes. I had not been awake this early in the morning more than three times in my sixteen years of living. I was somehow able to lift my still half-asleep body out of bed and into a pair of board shirts and running sneakers. Next thing I knew I was standing in front of triangle cut ready to jump in to take a nice, relaxing, quarter-mile swim. I completely overestimated my endurance for this swim and thought I could go full speed for about half the swim; however, after less than two minutes I was unable to fully lift my arms out of the water. I somehow gathered up enough energy to finish the swim alive. After reaching land for what felt like an hour, I was told to tread water for ten minutes. I could never remember starting a day with that kind of physical challenge on my body, and it was only 7:15. The excitement for the even harder workouts to come quickly came to my mind, thinking about the semester ahead.

Taylor Lundeen: Looking back on my first few days so far at The Island School, one of the moments that stands out to me is the introduction to our research groups. It was really exciting to hear about all of the projects, and how they are affecting and helping the community.  It was invigorating to know that I am soon going to be a part of one of these projects, and really have an impact on an important issue. Listening to all of their presentations, made me immediately want to jump right in and start to work. Lionfish, bonefish, and sharks, oh my! Which to choose? That was another exciting part of this process. In some way, all of these research projects resonated with me and made me want to learn more. I can’t wait to see the outcome of all of these projects, and see my work be translated into a strong force in helping to improve one of these issues.

Kyle Titsworth: Today I spend over an hour in four feet of wonder in what seemed like a different world.  Swimming, paddling, and diving down through the crystal clear blue water I saw hundreds of different fish and plants.  I saw fish like the squirrel fish, grouper, angel and corals like anemone and sea urchins.  This unique experience so early in the semester was amazing to have already in the semester.  It showed me how much we will get to explore and got me even more excited to learn about the different marine ecosystems throughout our time here.  It really showed me what an amazing experience we are going to have and the freedom we will have to focus on what we really want to do and learn more about through experience which is a huge part of The Island School.

Anna Jenkins: The sweat and dirt washed off into the salt water, and the fact our running water broke in our dorms no longer mattered.  Eight girls ran into the cold and shrieked as we submerged our bodies into the ocean and put our faces under the surface.  Our shampoo and conditioner floated beside us as we squeezed the soapy liquid into our hands and massaged our scalps, riding our hair of any impurities.  The bliss we felt by just the small action of cleaning off made me realize everything we take for granted at home.  Running water, napkins, endless food, and clean clothes are all things we use without thinking twice about where they are coming from and their effect on our environment.  Here at Island School, I have learned these are not all necessities for my life, and I do not need them to be happy and live comfortably.

Paul Henderson: There have been quite a few amazing moments that have happened to me so far in my Island School experience, even in the short time that I have been here. Of these many amazing moments, there is one that I find to be particularly interesting, and it happened today. It all started on our tour of the various facilities around the Island School campus, which eventually led to the biodiesel station. Though it is amazing that such a small facility supplies the fuel for all of the school’s vehicles, it was the man in charge of the facility that impressed me the most. Standing at the small building’s entrance, Marco greeted us and immediately launched into a speech about his position at the school. However, not only did he outline the inner workings of the system, but Marco also described the importance of why we were all here at The Island School. He talked about how being here in such a special place was giving us a unique opportunity to make a change in our lives, and to learn more than we ever have before. Marco said that though he may have received little education early in life, he was still learning new things everyday at The Island School, and because of this, our every moment of our experience should be cherished. I have been told time and again a message that was similar to the one that Marco shared today: one that expressed how special my time here was. However, there was something in the way that Marco was a living, breathing example of what the Island School can do for a person, that hit home for me in a way that I had never before experienced. This was a truly amazing moment for me, and it gave me a new perspective on how I should view my time at this school. Honestly, it was pretty cool.