Student Gavin Siegert chose to make a video about freediving for this week’s Student Update. Gavin has been working on his freediving skills with founder Chris Maxey and our other certified instructors over the past seven weeks.
When I think of Island School, there are a few words that always come to mind. The Bahamas, SCUBA diving, marine biology, beach, etc. One thing I’ve learned from being here is that there is one more word that should come to mind: academics. The majority of our days here are spent in class or doing homework. That work is not always the type that most high school students are used to, but it’s challenging nonetheless. With so many beautiful places and incredible things to do, hunkering down on Sunday, my one free day of the week, and writing a project proposal for my research project takes a lot of will power. One of the major difficulties is finding a balance between work and play. When everyone else is going out for exploration time, sometimes I need to stay behind for homework to get it done. Sometimes I have to do that a few days in a row, but I also have to remember to find time to get off campus, explore, and have fun. The great thing about Island School is that there are opportunities for adventure even during classes. With the right mindset, SCUBA diving for marine ecology or building a site-specific sculpture anywhere on campus for environmental art doesn’t feel like class, it can feel like an amazing way to spend a few hours. Taking advantage of every situation Island School offers is one way to make the workload and classwork not quite as difficult, and make the experience even more incredible.
The image of the first time I jumped into the warm blue water during our first field day is still plastered in my mind. Everywhere I looked was a deep royal blue, extending 600 meters below me into an unknown world our research is trying so hard to uncover. At first I was so nervous floating out in the water alone, but as the cage emerged from the bottomless blue pit I could see the 4 Cuban dogfish suspended in the cage, and all of a sudden that feeling of fear was replaced with awe and excitement. I watched as one by one my research advisor guided down the living sharks back to their home in the deep-sea. It is these moments in research that always keep me on my toes and ready to learn. These moments have also given me a love for what we are doing enough to keep my attention throughout our 3 hour research classes spent analyzing research papers and discussing the scientific method. Though it is easily our most challenging and stressful class here at the Island School, it is one that is already the most rewarding to me and so many of my other classmates.
Before coming to The Island School I had never gone for more than two weeks without seeing my friends and family. At the beginning of my time here, I didn’t miss anyone from home because there were so many new people around me. Still, I was excited for my first twenty minute phone time. Along with being excited, I was nervous dialing the phone to call home. So much had happened in just one week and I didn’t know how I could tell it all in twenty minutes, and explain the things that we do here that my parents and friends wouldn’t understand. As the phone rang, I realized how excited I was to tell all the stories of what had happened. My parents answered and after our happy hellos, we fell into a brief silence. I hadn’t expected this to happen, because I had so much to tell and didn’t know where to begin. I forced them to ask me questions and our conversation grew as I explained what morning exercise was, or as I told stories from 3 day kayak. My twenty minutes quickly came to an end and I had a mix of happiness and sadness as I hung up the phone. Over the following weeks I was always looking forward to my phone time, but as I began to talk to my friends I realized that what I found to be interesting at The Island School was fairly boring to my friends at home. I would want to tell the drama of morning exercise, but to my friends, hearing about an early morning run would be fairly boring. After phone times, I would have a hard time focusing because my mind was taken back to my home, and it took me awhile to arrive back at The Island School for study hours. For the most part I would want to talk longer on the phone and feel like I should have been allowed forty minutes or an hour to talk to people at home. But as my phone time high wore off I realized how much I enjoy my time here. I have begun to notice how I don’t feel as much of a need to talk to people at home, I just need those twenty minutes as a break.