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Hurricane Matthew Update #2

To the Island School and CEI family and friends,

Thank you for staying in touch with us. We very much appreciate your concern and we will continue to do our best to keep everybody updated.

This morning brought an energized and vocal morning exercise. Being the last group exercise for a few days (and a long exercise track day), the students gave it their all.  Pancakes and sausage were served afterward in a cool and breezy dining hall. The skies are gray and blue and the water is choppy though still a classic Bahamas blue.

Students in Communications Seminar storyboarding their next project

Classes are carrying on as usual today with students grabbing cameras and microphones to do interviews around campus. The communications seminar class is focusing on telling stories about people’s experience with storms in the past in audio and video form.

Campus is busy with final storm proofing and organizing. Deep Creek residents are moving onto campus today as well and sharing space with Island school faculty and staff.

Students conducted interviews with faculty and staff about experiences with storm in the past

Students will be located in one of our newest and most secure buildings on campus: the Center for Sustainable Development. This building is the ideal location on campus to ride out the storm. It is located about 15 feet above any predicted storm surge, it has an open floor plan which is ideal for communal living , and the entire building was constructed on four of the largest cisterns ever built within the organization, storing over 200,000 gallons of water. Electricity will also be run off of generators if our supply is interrupted.

Center of Sustainable Design
Center of Sustainable Development where students will be housed beginning tonight

We continue to prepare and are expecting a big storm. We are continually checking NOAA’s website to track the storm and monitor any changes in the storm’s path or severity. We understand how difficult it is to be at home watching the news. One of our gifted educators, Elidieu Joseph, is from Haiti and we all took some time to think about the people of Haiti who right now are weathering the storm with so little in the way of resources.  It makes us appreciate all that we have.

Thank you all for the continued support and confidence. As always, please reach out to our team with any questions or concerns.


US Office Number: (609) 620-6700




Zika virus update III

On Eleuthera we are continuing to keep a close eye on any developments with the Zika virus.  As you get ready for your travel, we want to make available the current information we have with regard to Zika.  Local Zika transmission on the island of New Providence in The Bahamas was first reported in the middle of August 2016.  Because the spread of Zika and other viruses to all countries where Aedes aegypti are endemic is predicted, we are applying our standing mosquito protection protocols for our community as usual. The spread of these viral diseases is difficult to monitor properly – as the article mentions, infections of a specific type can only be verified in a laboratory test.  We encourage prevention of mosquito bites – we highly recommend that students and visitors consider bringing personal no-see-um mesh camping type nets for their beds, and bug-net pants and tops. We also promote use of DEET and encourage covering up with long socks and long pants and long sleeves.

Please consult the following resources to help answer any questions or concerns you might have.  If we can help you in any way as you navigate, please contact us at (609) 945 0710 or at


CDC Traveler recommendation for the Bahamas

Pan American Health Organization Zika updates

Bahamas security report

Zika presence

Travelers to areas with dengue/chik/zika

 Zika pregnancy



We’re Shelton and Jane, today’s Caciques.

We’ve all been a tourist at some point in our lives. But few of us have been travellers. In our tourism and development class, we learned that to be a traveller is to be an ethical tourist; one who strives to become intimate with the land and its people. Each class group ventures on a four-day Down Island Trip, exploring the direct effects of tourism and development on Bahamian culture and the island itself.

Students on their Down Island Trip visit various settlements and businesses to learn about the tourism industry.
Students on their Down Island trip visit various settlements and businesses to learn about the tourism industry.

Summer term students have the opportunity to conduct interviews with local Bahamians throughout the trip, gaining new insights on tourism and how it impacts the individual people on the island of Eleuthera. On one of our stops, Shelton met a local baker who said that he enjoys tourists that visit Eleuthera because they have a “genuine desire to learn about our culture,” revealing that there is a positive side to tourism in some of the local communities. It was an incredible experience to connect with the locals and hear their stories. We ventured out on boats, ate local foods and discovered the many hidden gems of Eleuthera.

While continuing classes and intense Harkness discussions throughout the trip, we also had the opportunity to improve our skills as campers. Each member of the group participated in setting up fires, campsites and meals.

Students and staff work together to set up their campsite during a Down Island trip.
Students and staff work together to set up their campsite during a Down Island trip.


Overall, one of the best parts of the trip was becoming close with our peers and teachers. The Down Island trip was an intellectual and cultural experience that will continue to impact our lives at home, in our communities and in the greater world as we continue to question our role as tourists in other nations.

Signing off,

Shelton and Jane


This is Grant and Lily, your Caciques singing on:


Students measure soil at the aquaponics farm during a sustainable systems class. 

Monday was the halfway point of our stay here at the Island School. We, as a community, have grown to know each other very well and have become a strong support system for one another. We push each other through the many challenges that the Island School gives us as we prepare for our monster run-swim. Challenges can be mental as well as physical, so we always make sure that everyone feels supported. As of Monday, the Island School students have completed our first rotation of classes. It’s been a whirlwind of excitement and challenges, and it’s a weird feeling to know that we have gone through more days than we have left.

Monday was our off day where we were able to explore and enjoy the amazing opportunities we have in front of us. During the day off, Lily rested in the morning and biked to Sunset Beach in the afternoon along with many of the other students. Along with his peers, Grant went fishing in the morning near Fourth Hole Beach, then spent the rest of the day at Sunset Beach snorkeling with other students. The dedicated and hardworking group of 52 really got to know each other better at the beach as they listened to some of Owen’s favorite songs. In the evening, we had dinner before we all headed off to our class rotation groups where we were introduced to our new classes. There are three different classes that we take, which are tourism and development (which Lily just finished), marine ecology, and sustainable systems (which Grant just finished). We are both excited to learn more about each of our courses. We are all looking forward to the upcoming weeks as we cherish our last days here at the Island School. We have so much planed for the time we have left here, especially as we go into our new class rotation. We are all excited to see what the rest of time here has for us.


Students in marine ecology visit a nearby reef to identify types of organisms in the area.

Grant and Lily singing off, as your new Caciques will update you tomorrow!


SUMMER TERM 2016: Cacique Update #7

Hello everyone this is Johnny and Maeve and we are super excited to be the caciques of the day! Yesterday we were happy to have a sleep while some of us participated in morning meditation. Johnny was lucky enough to see a finning reef shark during sunrise. During the day the cocoplums were split into two groups to do research with CEI scientists. One group studied plastic pollution in the ocean, focusing on micro plastic and toxin buildup in fish species. In the morning they dissected Mahi Mahi and found a plastic fragment in its stomach. That afternoon they trawled a net that collected micro plastics from the ocean. Our group researched sharks, targeting migration patterns and nurseries for juvenile tiger sharks. In the morning we went out on a boat up a creek and set a long line.  This area is a suspected nursery for tiger sharks. The long line consisted of a series of circle hooks and buoys stretched out around the creek. We helped by baiting the hooks and attaching the buoys. Some of us helped by keeping track of the amount of hooks and buoys we put out. Then we left the line to sit for about an hour and a half and went for a swim (far away from the shark line).

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 6.38.01 PMMaeve and Johnny, our caciques!

Sadly, after pulling in the line and putting away all the hooks, we did not catch any sharks. We did catch a huge sea sponge! If we had caught a shark we would have tagged it with a cattle tag and spaghetti tag. If we had caught a juvenile tiger shark shorter than 180cm we would have also attached a satellite tag. This piece of equipment cost 4,000 dollars! This tag would have tracked the shark’s migratory paths, depths of swimming, and diet for six months.  Then it would pop off the shark and transmit information for about 2-3 weeks. Some people may be worried that tagging the sharks would hurt them or cause them pain, but they actually only feel pressure.

28139523781_e7531727a1_zStudents worked in research groups this week: one focuses on lionfish, an invasive species in the Bahamas

We wrapped the day up with an epic lip sync battle. Many different teams battled each other with an array of songs. Fritter the cat made an appearance as Simba in Tom’s (a teacher) performance of The Circle of Life. We ended the night with a singing group hug to the song I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston.  Some have called it “the most island school thing I have ever seen.”

28183527866_b889c4a599_zStudents engage a Harkness discussion in the Library

This is Maeve and Johnny, your caciques, signing off!


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!