Sometimes at Island School, things don’t always go as planned. So, when the weather isn’t right for SCUBA week, find other worthwhile ways for students to spend their time, like clearing the path out to Deals Beach, or sitting down to do some extra-blogging. Enjoy these reflections written by K3 and K4 in their downtime between dives…
Will Gold: Last Saturday the whole Island school headed into Deep Creek, which is the closest town for a cook out and a softball game with the local people.  When we arrived they had their grill up and running and were cooking steak, chicken and fish. I had the fish just to see what it was like. It was given to me with the head and everything still on it so it looked pretty gross but when you picked the meat and skin off they were delicious! We went and walked around town after that which was pretty small but interesting.

When we got back the softball game was already underway.  There was a mix of people playing in the outfield of locals mostly kids about my age and people I recognized from the Island School.  Little local kids were running around playing fun games with some of the girls from school, teaching each other some songs and rhythms.  There was a really strong sense of community as every one was laughing and talking smack.  It felt really good to be apart of because it reminded me of home. I joined right away and started in the out field somewhere between second and third. There was a Bahamian on my right at third base and on my left at second. From the very start I couldn’t believe how many grounders were hit to me.  I also didn’t know how bad I was at fielding grounders.  Three or four times the ball was hit straight at me and would go right by me and make me look like a fool and every time they kids by me would give me some grief but it was all in fun and I enjoyed it. I did get moved to second base though during the next inning. When it was my first time at bat I figured I would just swing as hard as I could and see what happened. So my first swing was a big time strike but the second time I jacked one over the outfielders and got to second. That felt pretty good and all my teammates were cheering for me.  From then on I was on fire. Every time I got to bat I would crank one on the first pitch.  It was so sweet!  Running the bases in the red dirt felt awesome to as all of the people were scrambling to field the ball. The locals who took it very serious were getting really into it as the game was winding down and we were only up a couple.  Pretty soon it was tied and we were in extra innings and the locals made me hit first which made me feel pretty honored and nervous at the same time.  Never the less I had another big hit and every one got really excited and we ended up winning by only a couple. It was really fun to get to know some of the people this way.  I had a great time with the guys from Deep Creek. They are a lot like my friends from home who just love having a good time and might take things a little to serious sometimes.

Amelia Patsalos-Fox: Yesterday Morning, the group took a 3 mile run, which was extremely invigorating. The light was perfect as we set off on our loop and my body provided me with the perfect amount of energy to carry me through the run. At home, when taking a run, I generally concentrate on when I’m going to be finished and what I will do after, the glass of water I will drink, or the couch I will sit down on. On this run, I was able to concentrate only on the each step I took, each step taking me closer to where I was going. I was then able to have a quiet moment to think to myself about my striking surroundings and my experiences at the Island School so far. This is an activity that from now on name ‘running and reflecting.’ Though I was running alongside twenty-four or twenty-five other people, it was absolutely not a race, and the finish was not the center of my focus. I was focused on finding a steady pace, concentrating on stride and each individual breath. I worked to synchronize these two things. This is not to say that the run was in any way easy, because it was very challenging. But when I finished, I felt revitalized and refreshed. The endorphins from that run were able to carry me through the rest of my day feeling healthy and fresh.

Hannah Piersiak: It was our first Saturday night here at the Island School and we were all excited to find out we were going to be doing. We met up at circle a couple hours after dinner. It was the first circle we have had in the dark. Stars shone brightly in the sky and the Bahamian flag waved in the wind. Once the faculty filled us in on where we were going we started our walk. We all took the opportunity of the walk to talk to some people we had never talked to before or to get to know some others better. The energy and excitement was palpable. The walk was long but beautiful and calming. The only complaints about the walk were due to sore feet and bug bites. We got to Fourth Hole about an hour after our circle at school.  Some people put on their snorkels and masks and ran out into the dark water. Others found a spot in the sand to sit down. I went with a couple others to collect firewood. We walked down the beach in search of dry wood. We returned with some dead trees, branches and brush. A couple of boys piled the firewood in a very meticulous way and after a couple of tries got the fire going. I sat down in a circle with some of my new friends near the fire but close enough to the ocean that my feet would get wet if a wave made it up the sand far enough. The fire warmed my back and the water cooled my feet while I talked to my friends. The sound of crackling fire, waves crashing, chatter and laughter filled my ears. Too soon the night ended and we had to head back to campus, wishing the night could have lasted longer. Our first Saturday night experience has made us all excited for the many Saturdays to come.

Anna Jenkins: It is hard to express the pain that concentrated three square inches in my foot. My arch seized up and my ankle and foot became paralyzed with pain.  I hopped towards the beach and collapsed on the ground, clutching my leg between my hands.  Don’t look at it.  The thought repeated in my head over and over.  The moment I did, I wish I had not.  Blood dripped out of indigo holes on the top and side of my right foot.  Some of the holes still had urchin spines imbedded in them.  The shock shook my body and I managed to tremble in the eighty-degree weather.

Although I remember the pain quite clearly, it is not the most vivid and lasting memory I gained from kicking a sea urchin.  The people who came to my side, carried me out of the water, wrapped a towel around me, and offered me a hand to squeeze is what I remember most.  I had only known them for a week and they were still strangers to me, and I am sure I was still a stranger to them.  Clusters of people grouped around me, but instead of feeling overwhelmed, I was comforted.  To be so far away from home, the only place where I know people will be there for me, and still have unconditional support, was something I was not sure I would find here. After my ordeal, I realized if it were not for the people around me, I would have reacted much differently.  The jokes my peers cracked around me kept me laughing, and the massage my friend gave me kept me calm.  The slight pain when I walk and the healing blue holes on my foot are only reminders of my unfortunate experience last week, but they are also reminders of the unique community I am now a part of.

Peter Graham: Today in the back of the Island School at the Orchard. We were walking around writing similes and comparisons to our surrounding. The orchard was not the only place that we went to, however it was the most interesting for me. There are all kinds of plants and creatures in the orchard. Plenty of the plants in the orchard are edible. For example, we stopped by a juju tree that still had some jujus on it. There were plants there that I had no clue what they were. One of which was a green egg looking thing that had tons of pours all the way around it. It is also a rather ugly looking fruit. All the trees and fruit made this an enchanted place. The orchard could definitely be a place that I would go just to relax. The sound of the wind rustling through the trees and bushes.  In the background we could hear the wind turbine spinning so fast that I sounded like it was going to take off. Just the sound of the blades slicing through the air made me realize how peaceful it is around here.

That peacefulness carries around the campus. It keeps everyone in a calm state and in somewhat of a shock as to just how pretty and relaxing it is here. A lot of people seem to be set in a permanent state of awe over the beautiful surrounding. Its amazing how something you might take for granted is a whole other world for someone else. It made me realize what I should be thankful for, living in The Bahamas. Going to the Island School is a once in a lifetime experience. Learning how to conserve water, save the environment, and step away from technology for a while helps us find who we really are and why we should be thankful for the things that we have and the things that we do.

Tamara Pletzer: Community is a word that is often used throughout the Island School day. It is said in reference to the people and as a team experience and though I wasn’t sure we ever would, in a new environment with many new faces, we took that elusive step to becoming a “community”. It was a bright Saturday morning and one of the few days that students get to sleep in. There was nothing planned until lunch time and hours of exploration awaited. Surprisingly, most kids had the same idea off   going to the Marina and ending at Sunset Beach where they could relax in the sun. When my friends and I arrived at the beach almost all of the students were lounging on the beach in towels. Someone brought speakers and soon enough it became somewhat a beach party. There was food purchased from the Marina along with sand and water. It was completely impromptu and unexpected, yet everyone was coming together to enjoy the beach. There were people catching up while sprawled out on the sand and others swimming in the waves and the hammocks and the swings were constantly in use as were the chairs. Everyone was laughing with sunscreen slathered on their bodies and shades covering their eyes and of course there were bathing suits of every color. With so many people having fun there were many conversations with people I hadn’t had the chance to get to know yet and many silly instances to remember. But, even though the setting was the exact image of summer, it was the people that made it memorable as well as what I took away from that experience. It was a chance for us to bond and begin to become the community of the spring 2012 semester.

Brendan James: My time at Island School so far has been very different from anything else that I have ever done. The 8 days I have been here have been refreshing in several ways. Not having internet, limited phone, and a limited connection with the outside world has made the Island School an environment free of distraction for me. I feel like I am in a unique bubble where I can focus on just the things I really want to learn about. The subject matter of the work we do is actually feels relevant to things we are going to need to know in life. This is a big difference from traditional schools that I’m used to. Exploration time may be my favorite part of the Island School experience. This gives us a daily allotted free time to explore around Cape Eluethera and hang out with other classmates in the process. In my exploration time I have gone out snorkeling with friends and seen a diverse array of fish, coral, and invertebrates including a stingray. Seeing these fish in the crystal clear blue water is such a cool experience for me especially because I am from New Jersey where you can’t see two feet in front of you in the ocean water. I appreciate that the Island School recognizes how important exploration time can be to the students.

Surayya Diggs: Since coming to The Island School nature has had a big impact on me emotionally.  Things as simple as the wind and the trees in some way reflect on the way I am feeling.  During class today we took a short hike to a hilly area filled with trees and as a sat there I reflected on the ways that the hills, the wind, and other things were influencing my experience thus far.  I took a seat on a pile of pine-like leaves.  The leaves made me feel like I was a needle in a haystack.  Finding the needle was my journey to find myself in the one hundred days at the Island School.  Each day I dig a little bit deeper and get a little bit closer to discovering who I am through meeting new challenges and having new experiences.  I live each day and it feels like the tasks are getting harder.  I keep looking through the hay and I almost feel like I’m giving up when finally, I find the needle.  Having this mentality, I am slowly becoming afraid of giving up because I never know how close I am to finding something new.  If I keep writing I may have a new revelation.   If I keep running I may find that I can run farther than I ever though possible.  If I keep diving I can find something no one else has seen before.  If I keep trying one day I will succeed.  Sometimes I think about what will happen when I have succeeded, when I have completed the one hundred days.  I think of myself looking back at this writing a year from now or even a decade from now and seeing how much I have grown intellectually, physically, and athletically.