Final Thoughts

This has been a great trip, with a great group of students.  They have really come together as a group, and have worked hard both in physical activities and in their coursework.  Here is a picture of their classroom at Concordia, with the fabulous view beyond:

p1130387

Right now they are getting a little break before their afternoon class, during which they will hopefully plan a fun activity/presentation for new students that will happen on Thursday.

Today is reserved for finishing up work, planning final work, relaxing, having a final group dinner, and then packing up.  Tomorrow we leave Concordia at 7:30 am, and get a ride into town from Walter, our all-time favorite taxi driver (Dan and I brought the rental truck back this morning).  We then take the ferry to Charlotte Amalie, where we get to hang out for a little while before heading out to the airport.  We are supposed to get in to Boston at around 6 pm, then the Landmark shuttle brings them back to campus and deposits them at Campus Security so that they can pick up their room keys.  The shorts and short sleeve shirts and bathing suits will be put away, and warm clothing brought out again to fit our Vermont environment.

Arawak Expeditions Take Us To Hurricane Hole

Written by “C Watch”: Nick Indiano, Caitlin Fash, Jenna Pavucek

Monday we went to Hurricane Hole which is located in Coral Bay.  It is called Hurricane Hole because it is where the ships went when there was a hurricane coming because it is protected from the strong winds.  We went kayaking and snorkeling there for the day, led by staff from Arawak Expeditions.

Jenna said she really liked kayaking.  These kayaks were double kayaks with rudders steered by peddles that the back paddler controlled.  Caitlin said she really enjoyed seeing the different reefs and fishes that we got to see when we were snorkeling by the mangrove roots.  You could see how much reef life was growing among the roots.  Some of the fish were pretty big, some were schools of small blue fishes, Meg saw a baracuda, there was a lot of brain coral, but also some fire coral that we had to be careful to avoid.  There were many surgeon fishes, some flying fishes, and when we on the shore we saw a green turtle that kept coming up for air when it was feeding on the sea grass.  It was pretty windy, and after snorkeling for a while it got pretty cold.  They had sandwiches and salads for us as well as dessert, which had been packed in their kayaks.

Nick and Caitlin both noted how the water was so blue and clear that it allowed you to see right to the bottom.  Nick noted that we showed a lot of teamwork, particularly between each pair because they had to communicate with each other to paddle at the same time and steer correctly.  Nick says he would recommend this activity because it is a great way to explore the environment around you, including the trees and the sea life below us.  Caitlin wouldn’t necessarily recommend it because she didn’t like the kayaking as much, but she loved the snorkeling.  Jenna would definitely recommend the activity because of the kayaking.

Wellness

The group has really delved into wellness activities recently, and in their coursework are relating their experiences to their readings (which include articles about mindfulness, eating healthy food, minimizing tech use, stress management, and resiliency).  Actually these discussions happen throughout our days, and the students have really shown great growth and understanding.  Not to mention a total willingness to do hard work and to go with the flow when we have to change plans.  It’s a great group, we have to say.  Here are some examples of what we have done:

We all participated in a yoga class on Saturday morning:

Sushila noted that before doing the yoga she could feel tension in her body, but after the yoga she felt refreshed and awakened, like she had a new self.  She quoted a reading she had which said it helps you to fully focus on her breath and mind, going from distress to de-stress, and going from dis-ease to ease.

We then went on a hike out Ram Head peninsula just below the resort area, which was a hot hike but we were rewarded by amazing views throughout, and especially at the end.  We searched the seas for signs of Roseway but alas did not see her, but we were able to get a great group shot:

Poor Charlie lost one of his favorite hats in the strong wind, but he was a model of resilience by just letting it go (and not pursuing it down a vertical abyss) and maintaining a positive attitude.  Actually he has a positive attitude in general, so it was no surprise to me that he responded this way.

p1130374

Our group meal last night was cooked by some of the students, and was quite delicious and healthy.

Today we get in our bathing suits, slather up with sunblock, put on caps and fill water bottles, and head up to meet our kayak guides who will lead us on a kayak/snorkeling trips in Hurricane Hole.  I am hoping “C Watch” can tell you all about it tonight or tomorrow.

By the way, I just re-read the previous blogs and noticed I wrote “clamping” instead of “glamping”.  Glamping is more fun than clamping by far.

-Meg

 

Brief Update

This is Meg writing, bringing you up to date on our latest adventures and place of residence.

On Thursday we volunteered for the Friends of the Park, clearing around a ruin (part of the Annaberg estate).  Sophie and I have been very impressed by the willingness of our students to jump into hard work with no complaints, and to keep at the work in spite of difficulties (in this case, nasty prickers called Catch and Keep, heat, and a daunting amount of jungle to clear).  When we started the ruins were fairly hidden by all of the growth, but now you can walk all around the ruins easily.  Here is a group shot (of some of our students and the volunteer leaders) when we were finishing up:

img_0167

Yesterday after packing up at Cinnamon Bay Campground Sophie, Dan and I went into Cruz Bay and rented a “people mover” truck.  We went back to the campground to load up the students and their copious Stuff, and moved the gang over to the southeast side of the island, where we are staying at Concordia Eco Resort.  You may have heard of the term “clamping,” and that very much describes this place: glamorous camping.  We will be in awesome shape by the end of this stay, or at least our legs will, as the resort is set up a steep hillside, and the tents and buildings are connected by a network of steep stairs:

p1130368

The students are sharing eco tents, which are quite cool looking, and Sophie, Dan and I are in a house that commands a breath-taking view of Ram Head peninsula.  The house works perfectly for group gathering, cooking/eating, and classroom space.  This picture is actually from the pool area below us:

p1130367

Today the plan is to go to a morning yoga class, then go off for a hike along the peninsula.

Day Trip to St. Thomas

 

Written by “B Watch”: Nikhil Ravishankar, Adam Cook, Alyssa Partington

Wednesday we took the ferry over to St. Thomas to explore the historical sites in Charlotte Amalie, which is the capital of the US Virgin Islands.

We did a walking tour of the town, including going up the 99 Steps (actually they were 103), thereby testing our physical resilience!

img_0119

Many of the buildings we saw were at least a century old, including the oldest continuously operating synagogue in the United States.  The floor of the synagogue was covered in sand, which relates back to a time when they needed to muffle the sounds of their services in order to avoid being persecuted.  They had seven old Torahs, including the Holocaust Torah, which was originally seized by the Nazis during WWII to be placed in a museum the Nazis were going to make which was to prove that they had destroyed an entire race.  They also had a small brick piece from the gas chamber from the Birkenau concentration camp.  Seeing these relics and being reminded of the history of these people and their resilience and perseverance was a humbling experience.

img_0126

img_0131

After the tour and lunch

img_0132

we split off into small groups to explore the area, again testing our emotional resilience and our ability to work together.  Adam says he found a cool bell that was from an old Lutheran church.  There was an open-air market in the center of the town where there were many vendors selling all sorts of things, including hand-carved sculptures, clothes, food, and other items.

While waiting for the ferry we loitered about

img_0151

and played one of our card games (“Idiots”), which has been a favorite pastime during the trip.

img_0146

On the ferry ride home there were some sea birds (Boobys) flying right above the boat and diving into the water.  A number of students snapped some good photos of the birds as they were close to us.

Overall, this day trip was great and fun.  We would heartily recommend that you visit these sites if you come to the Virgin Islands.

Annaberg Plantation Ruins

Written by the “A Watch”: Charlie Frost, Ian Pulsford, and Sushila K.C.

Today we explored the remains of a sugar plantation named the Annaberg Plantation.  A man named Bill Fisk (originally from Orange MA) started off the tour with background knowledge of the plantation.  As we walked around there were very interesting buildings, especially what they were made of.  They used coral pieces and sandstone, and the mortar was made of molasses, urine, and cow dung.The crops (sugar cane) were very hard to grow because the soil was very rough and you couldn’t dig very deep.  The plants were grown on the steep hillside above the plantation buildings to the south.

The view was magnificent and we could see Tortolla and Jost van Dyke.  In the days of the working plantation there was a bigger view because they had cut down all of the trees.  There was a tiny jail cell, and you could see sketches the jailed slaves made of ships in the harbor and the buildings nearby.

As we made our way around the corner there was a guy as tall as a giant with a coconut.  His name was Charles and he was a really great guy because of his knowledge of local plants and their uses.  He gave us a tour of the old-fashioned charcoal pit, where he makes his own charcoal.  He also showed showed us around his garden and gave us information on how each of these plants could be used for various ailments.  For instance, there was one plant that he said can be used to treat diabetes (made from a drink from the seeds).

We also visited a small kitchen space where Miss Olivia was making dumb bread which we got to taste.  Some people loved it, others thought it needed butter or cheese.  She also had a local juice that gave the bread a little flavor and moisture.

After the tour we went to see the school that was built for the slave children to attend, but it turns out that the schoolmaster was dismissed for being a pedophile, and it was not used much after that.

Now we’re back at our campground with a nice view of the ocean, and Sushila is trying her best to cut up the half coconut that Charles gave us, while everyone else is doing their homework and taking a nice break.

The Roseway

We are now on St. John, after completing a fantastic time on The Roseway.  It is so clearly a transformational experience for our students.  Jenna reports “It was life-changing; I learned that I can contribute to being part of a team.”  Similarly, Charlie said “It was a once in a lifetime experience; it was different and all-new to me… I realized I have more resilience than I thought, like with losing access to my phone and focusing on food and drinking water.”

The theme of teamwork came up often for our students, and that was one of our 3 core values that they came up with (the others being respect and communication).  Nikhil talked about how pulling up the sails were a significant challenge for him, but “the good part is that we were all pulling together.”  Adam said “The experience of over time being able to come together as a team, as a crew, was really neat.”

Chores were a regular and ongoing part of their days, which included not only raising and lowering, and furling sails, but also boat checks, swabbing the decks, cleaning the heads (toilets, that is), helping raise and lower the anchor (a very dirty business for whoever went below to deal with the muddy anchor chain), setting up and cleaning up meals, getting up in the middle of the night to do night watch, and generally being ready and willing to jump up and offer help whenever asked.  Nick said what he came away with is the realization that in spite of the challenges, “at the end of the day I was able to accomplish everything I was asked to do.”  Eventually they did tasks without being asked; they just noticed what needed to be done and asked if they could help.  Trust us, they worked very hard; those sails are incredibly huge and heavy.  We have minimal ability to download pictures unfortunately, but here are some:

 

img_0041

p1130232

p1130244

But we also got to do fun activities on board and off, including snorkeling at Norman Island (the basis for Treasure Island), hiking, going out on the bowsprit and climbing up the shrouds up the main mast.  Sushila said the mast climb was the most exciting and challenging for her, and noted “the view took your mind from thoughts of fear of heights.”  Alyssa also said climbing the mast was one of her favorite parts.  When she went out on the bowsprit she actually lost her footing and fell through the netting (she was tied in to a safety harness), but she smiled and said “I was calm and fine and they helped me back up.”  Sometimes just getting to know the boat better was fun.  Ian was particularly intrigued by the engine room below, and noted that while “it was cramped, it’s a whole other room, almost seemed like a different ship.”

We are now staying at Cinnamon Bay Campground, and found once we got there that the wifi is temporarily out of service while they upgrade.  Needless to say, this makes things a tad difficult, especially writing a blog (which I am now doing near   a restaurant in Cruz Bay).  Consequently, our blogs are going to be few and far between I’m afraid.  I am going to have to end this one as it is time to meet the students and head up to a local grocery store to get food for making our own meals at the campground.  Also my (Meg’s) phone doesn’t work there, and Sophie’s phone was dropped in the drink when we were getting loaded onto Roseway.  Our students have been able to communicate with their parents, luckily, so we will just make do.

We did laundry today then toured at a sugar mill ruins, and tomorrow we hike up into the hills above our campground.  It is gorgeous down here, and nice and warm.

We’re here!

We got to St. Thomas right on time, had a hot walk to our hotel, and now are ensconced at the Island Beachcomber Hotel.  Some went swimming right away, while others just appreciated the view of Lindberg Bay (named after Charles Lindberg, who apparently landed here on his trip around the world).  I made an attempt to put in a blog entry last night, but I think too many people were using the internet.  Early morning is apparently a better time.  We are about to have breakfast, pack up, and then will head over to the marina where we get on the Roseway!  We had a huge rainstorm last night, but today it is clear and gorgeous.  It is hard to believe that I started yesterday morning stoking up the fire in my house at 4 am after a day of skiing in fresh powder snow.

In the interest of speed I am going to forego trying to download pictures.  It’s time for coffee and breakfast and then herding up the crew.

For the next 5 days please go to Roseway’s site at worldoceanschool.org.

First Stop….Orientation Meeting!

Sophie and I are planning a fun and informative orientation meeting for this Friday (12/9) from 9-12 up in the Stone Hall Coffee House.  Please make sure you get there on time, and bring your coursepack!  Among other things, we’ll look through a slide show with pictures of the Roseway so you will know what to expect on the boat, and perhaps we’ll have some other pictures from our trip last year.  You will also get to meet your fellow travelers.

We will be finishing up by sharing lunch together in the Dining Hall, and then you are free to head home and get some sleep!