Craft Fair and Softball Tournament Wellness Fairs and Pascal’s: Sarah Mason (2-1)

Wow. It’s February already? Where in the world has the time gone?!? This morning we went to the Tarpum Bay’s Craft Fair/Farmer’s Market and set up a wellness fair to check glucose levels and blood pressure for the people attending the market. For someone who had zero experience prior to this trip with this kind of stuff, it was pretty cool to see how comfortable everyone is with testing and eager everyone is to help out. Miss Paulette had a booth set up at the craft fair and was selling straw purses, placemats and comforters that she had sewn herself. It was fun to see all of her art on display and the hard work that she puts into selling it. She gave some of us girls a sewing lesson and sent us home with patterns to share with our friends and family. I loved seeing how proud she is of her work!

Then we headed over to the softball field in Rock Sound to set up another wellness fair at the softball tournament. We all sat in the bleachers for a bit and ate lunch before diving into work. It looked like it wasn’t going to be very successful and then all the sudden people started rushing over to our table to get their numbers checked. Our goal was to beat the last group’s number of people tested, and after the softball wellness fair, we made it! In total, we tested 40 people on Saturday and were all pretty pleased with our performance. After the wellness fair, the gang headed down to the dock on the water and relaxed for about an hour before heading to dinner. It was a beautiful spot! We all sat with our legs hanging off the dock at the breathtaking view. There were a number of sailboats anchored close to shore, so the sun beginning to set over the water was a pretty spectacular view.

Sunset from Pascals VHa

Sunset at Pascal’s. Photo by Veronica.

Next, we were picked up and shuttled over to Pascal’s where we ate a delicious family-style meal. Patti and Jai even showed up a little late to join us for dinner. Janet and Jay did a fun little white elephant gift exchange for us too (even though the presents were actually really cool souvenirs!). Janet and Jay are so thoughtful!! The restaurant was beautiful and the perfect spot to watch the sunset. It was a great last meal together and a time well spent with good company. I am going to miss this beautiful place and these wonderful people!

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Island School presentations, Lighthouse Beach and bonfire on the beach! Katie Hurliman (1-31)

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Final Presentation at the Island School

It’s hard to believe our trip is coming to a close already. Today we gave our final presentations at the Island School. Everybody did a great job and it was really cool to see how much we all learned collectively throughout this journey about diabetes.

After our presentations we went to the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever seen, Lighthouse Beach. I honestly have never seen anything like that magical place.

The pink sand is so soft…I felt like I was walking on flour and the water is so turquoise I could have sworn it was right out of a postcard. We had lunch on the beach, napped a little and then played a little 500 in the water- so much fun! Then came snorkeling, which was absolutely amazing in the clear water. The rainbow parrotfish we saw were by far my favorite, so colorful and vibrant. After snorkeling for a while, it was time to explore the beach a little. We walked up to the lighthouse, checked out the little caves and of course took tons of pictures.  We were all sad to see the afternoon come to an end, but so grateful to have spent an afternoon just relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous beach.

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Where the Atlantic meets the Exuma Sound. Lighthouse beach.

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To end the day, we had a bonfire on the beach and spent some time bonding as a group. I am truly thankful to have spent the last three and a half weeks with such wonderful people and could not have asked for better company. This trip has been by far the most incredible experience of my life and I will forever cherish the memories made here.

katie

Central Eleuthera High School, Emma Cooper Primary School, Tippy’s and Beach House: Kendra Howard (1-30)

Leaving at 8:30 this morning, we all knew we had a busy day ahead of us because we weren’t going to be back to the Island School until around midnight. But it was definitely a day well worth it. We had our last day of teaching today, it was very bittersweet. I have loved teaching the students about diabetes and I felt like everyone had finally become comfortable interacting with all the different age groups and had the knowledge and information needed to be taught down to a tee.

Teaching with Ms. Pauls

Teaching at Central Eleuthera High School with Ms. Pauls

First we went to Central Eleuthera High School where we had two twelfth grade classes and an eleventh grade class to teach, so we split into three groups to teach. I started in the classroom, as was Pendrey before the two of us were pulled aside to take some of the faculty members’ blood glucose levels and blood pressure. It was super fun! I had not yet had the opportunity to test people at the schools we have visited and it turned out to be really great! We definitely had some laughs while testing the faculty and the people we were testing made a little competition out of it, which was great to see. After we tested everyone that wanted it done, Pendrey and I went back to our separate classrooms for the end of the teaching session. This high school group was hard to interact with and keeping their attention was nearly impossible, which made it difficult to teach. It was still a great experience working with the older students because my class was full of 25 twelfth graders, so they were already pretty educated about Type II Diabetes.

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Learning how to crack a coconut.

After we finished, we all headed to lunch with one of Janet and Jay’s good friend, who they call their “Bahama Mama,” Mrs. Paulette. She was a hoot! I loved talking with her! The first thing she did when I met her was give me a huge a hug, and it was so sweet. We ate our packed lunch on a dock at the beach in Palm Meadow Point, which was beautiful. At one point during our lunch break Dave and Casey found a coconut and decided to break it open. It was the highlight of our lunch because we all were able to try fresh coconut water and the meat of the coconut.  It was seriously the best coconut I have ever had.

Teaching at Emma Cooper

Emma Cooper Primary School

Then we went to the last school we would teach at for the trip Emma Cooper Primary School. It was the perfect place to end because we all were able to teach the class together. It was a huge class  of third through sixth graders. It was so hot in the classroom! Everyone was sweaty, so we taught for about 30-45 minutes about diabetes, which was fun because the kids were so polite and participated every chance they had. After we taught, we decided to go play outside for about another hour. We played basketball, soccer, duck-duck-goose and danced around their play area. I had a blast! It could not have been a better place to end our teaching experience in the Bahamas.

After we finished teaching we had a really fun evening planned. We went to a beach on the Atlantic side, which was probably the most beautiful and amazing beach I had swam in and been on all trip. The water was so clear and warm and it looked and felt like I was swimming in a saltwater pool or something. And then of course the sand was pink and the softest and finest sand I have felt yet. It was a great place to relax with everyone. We all swam for about an hour and then layed out until we headed over for what would be a delicious dinner at a restaurant called Tippy’s. The food was absolutely amazing and it was just an all around fun dinner to say the least.

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Dinner at Tippys

Once everyone was in a food coma, Janet and Jay decided to take us to this place called the Beach House. It was a poppin’ place. There was live music, dessert and drinks, so we all hung out there for the rest of the night and danced to some real authentic Bahamian music. It was a blast and I didn’t want to leave! Today was an incredible day and I am definitely going to miss teaching the students during the last couple days that we have left here in the Bahamas, but I would not have wanted today to end any other way.

Kendra Howard

High rock, sharks and DCMS wellness fair: Amelia Christy (1-29)

Today we started the day off a little slow with some free time to recuperate from our kayak trip. The weather was warm and it was absolutely stunning so we decided to head out to high rock (a small, 15-foot rock cliff from which we could jump into the ocean from). We rode our bikes out to the rock with great anticipation, only to arrive and find the tide was out just a tad too far, so jumping was not the safest option! Instead, we ended up jumping off some smaller rocks and just floated in the sea for a while looking at the small critters in the shallow waters.

After our failed attempt of jumping off high rock, we worked on our presentations for the Island School staff, interns and anyone else who wanted to learn about Type II Diabetes/what we have been actually doing during our time on the island. My group opted to head out to the marina so we could work on our presentation on the docks. Luckily for us the fisherman were there cleaning their fish and the sharks were having a feeding frenzy! It was fascinating to watch, seeing as we had only seen one or two sharks previously. We spent a large chunk of time watching the nurse and bull sharks feed and didn’t get quite as far on our project as we had hoped, but it was so worth it!

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DCMS Wellness Fair

Later in the evening we went to DCMS to run a wellness fair, but nobody showed up. So instead we spent the evening practicing blood pressures on ourselves. We later learned that there was a church event that everyone was at. Hopefully the next wellness fair we have will be more productive!

Amelia

Kayak trip! (1-26, 1-27, 1-28): Hannah Langley

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Day 1

We packed all of our stuff into our kayaks, which was difficult because it was my first time using dry bags. It took me a couple tries to get all of the air out of the bags and get things situated in my kayak. Once we were all situated (all 16 of us) we headed up island against the wind. I was frustrated during the first leg of the trip because the front of my boat kept getting pushed left, away from the shoreline and all I wanted to do was paddle straight. I’m the type of person that likes to be awesome at everything I try, not necessarily realistic, but the first day I had a lot to learn and lots of time to practice my technique. We paddled about 3.5 miles our first day and set up camp. I was tired and hangry (for those of you who don’t know what “hangry” means, it is a word that means anger induced by hunger).

Side note- We had four awesome people come with us on our trip. We had Jai and his wife Patty. Jai is like a nature God, he knows everything there is to know about the outdoors and a survival genius. A much more accurate description of him would be that he is the just like Bear Grylls. If you don’t know who that is then look him up. He also happens to be British and has a fantastic accent. He works as the medic at the Island School and his wife Patty is very smart and kind. She is sharp and very adventurous as well. She is a kayak champion and is a great teacher. She has lots of experience paddling and is also an expert dragon boat racer. I really enjoyed my time spent learning from both of them and hearing their stories.

We also had Tom on the trip with us. He is a new intern here at the Island School. He has only been here for five days and we were happy to have him with us on our camping trip. He has always loved the outdoors and has made this recent career change to start doing what he enjoys. He also is an experienced kayaker (if that’s a word) and contributed a lot to our success as a group.

Kayak trip8Last, but not least, we had Kenzie who literally knows everything there is to know about marine wildlife and biology. She works for the Island School and is one of the bubbliest people I have ever met. She was a great addition to our trip because she taught us about several edible plants, how to identify different fish and was basically a walking textbook about anything to do with marine life. She came in handy and was able to point out which jellyfish would not sting and I learned so much from her. Because of Kenzie I was able to hold an actual jellyfish that came in with the tide. It was so cool!

Ok back on track! So when we arrived back on land, we set up camp and Jay taught us some tricks for anchoring our tents and making fires. Our first meal we made was quesadillas, stir fry veggies and brown rice. It was my favorite meal by far that we have had on the trip. We sat by the fire and visited for a while. I am a very curious person and love to know everything so I asked Jai to tell us a little bit about his life and how he got to where he is today. This led to everyone telling their stories, which I really enjoyed listening to. I also asked Jai how he and Patty met. This is one of my favorite questions to ask couples and is what I loved asking during my nursing home rotations. Then all of us under the age of 25 were lame and went to bed at 8 p.m. We were so tired from our first day and full of yummy food.

Day 2

The second day we headed off to Green Castle, which is the third settlement from Cape Eleuthra. We set up camp here and then walked for about 30 minutes to a blue hole. A blue hole is a cave, or underwater sinkhole. They are also called vertical caves. Our plan was to snorkel at the blue hole. I was soooooo excited for this because sharks and rays tend hang around the blue hole. But before we got to the blue hole our group came across a huge termite hill (similar to the picture below).

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Jai called us over, stuck a stick in it and then proceeded to eat some termites and told us our different options of how to cook them. He said they are very high in protein and will keep you alive if you need food to survive. I thought this was super gross at first because I imagined the bugs squirming around in his mouth. I would say that when I travel I tend to be a pretty adventurous person and try to do a lot of things outside my comfort zone. So of course I had to eat a termite just to say that I have eaten one. The termite honestly tasted like nothing, but some people said theirs tasted like pine. I was so proud of myself and excited I did something I thought was gross and off limits for me.

Once we reached the blue hole we were all anxious to get in the water. As soon as we swam to the blue hole we saw five Spotted Eagle Rays. One was about six feet long.

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It was honestly one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Spotted Eagle Rays are so large and majestic in the water. I swam right above them and they were so close. It was something I was so excited to check off my bucket list. We also encountered a lot of jellyfish and then a large variety of other fish. The blue hole is a must see.

Dinner the second night was gluten-free pasta for me, wheat pasta for everyone else, and red sauce, mozzarella cheese and tuna. After dinner we warmed up by the fire and played a bunch of rounds of Mafia. Jai also used his laser pointer and showed us a lot of consolations and stars. He taught us how to calculate the longitude and latitude using a degree system that involves your knuckles and the horizon with the North Star. I can’t quite remember it though…. sorry! We went to bed a little later after a lot of laughs and fun.

Day 3

This was our longest paddle day. Jai said it was about seven miles, but we had the wind at our back, which was a huge help!  By the time we reached the Island School we were all exhausted and ready for food and our beds. It was rewarding to know that we could paddle that far in one day, which we had originally done in two days. I had so much fun on the kayak trip. The highlight for me on our last day was that I got to walk next to a baby shark. I freaking love seeing sharks here, they are so awesome and scary at the same time.

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Pod Up!

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Cooking dinner on day one

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Camp one

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Sunrise from the water- camp two

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Camp Two

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Camp one

 

Hannah

Field trips with DCMS, kayak trip prep and more pasting! Miranda Hire (1-24)

Today was yet another beautiful day in paradise. We started off the day bright and early in the morning and headed to Deep Creek Middle School to tag along on their class field trips. My group was Casey, David, Pendrey, Amelia and I. We went with the 7th grade class to Fourth Hole Beach and explored the different organisms living in the reefs. The second group was Kendra, Katie and Sarah. They went with the 8th grade class to the Princess Cays and Rock Sound to research garbage, recycling and other conservation methods in tourist areas. The last group was Hannah and Veronica and they helped the 9th grade class work on their research projects.

On the 7th grade field trip, we arrived at Fourth Hole, which is just a bike ride away from the Island School, and started off with a team building exercise that focused on communication. Each of us was teamed up with two other buddies and were sent to explore the reef during low tide. We found a lot of cool things, like fish, sea sponges, different types of coral, sea snails, a starfish and other types of ocean life. We recorded our findings and enjoyed playing around in the water and checking out the reef. After lunch, we got all geared up to go snorkeling. The teachers and students all had wetsuits, while the five of us were only in our swimsuits. The hot sun was blazing down on us, so the cool water actually felt quite nice. We swam around for a while with our buddy groups and saw some jellyfish, coral, barnacles and lots and lots of awesome fish. It was pretty stellar to hang out with the kids and be able to learn about science, swim around in the ocean and just hang out on the beach. All of us worked really well with the kids! We then headed back to Deep Creek Middle School and watched part of the students’ Junkanoo practice in the street. They are looking really good! I’m looking forward to seeing everything come together during the real thing!

After we said our goodbyes to the kids for the day, we headed back to the Island School. Then we practiced pitching tents and grabbed some of our gear for our camping trip that is coming up this Sunday. When we were done, some of us went down to Sunset Beach to catch some more rays and relax, but it was actually quite chilly from the wind, so we biked back to the school and hung out for a bit until dinner time.

After dinner, six of us (Kendra, Pendrey, Sarah, Amelia, David and I) plus Janet and Jay took a trip back to Deep Creek Middle School to help paste and put a few finishing touches on the Junkanoo costumes… 4.5 hours later and with hands stuck together by glue, we made it out alive…very tired and very ready for bed. Even though the work was extremely tedious and tiring, I had a blast helping out with the pasting while jamming to music and talking with friends.

The community has put so much work into all of the costumes and other crafts that are apart of the big event. Everything looks incredible– I can’t wait to see it in action tomorrow during the Junior Junkanoo!

MHIRE

Green Castle Primary School and Island School Wellness Fair! Pendrey (1-23)

Today was just another wonderful day in paradise! We started our day off presenting diabetes education to third through sixth grades at Green Castle Primary School. The kids were so polite and well behaved, and we all had so much fun teaching them. I got the opportunity to chat with one of the teachers there and she explained to me how several of her family members have Type II Diabetes. Many of her family members have developed severe complications from their diabetes. As I was talking with her, she told me that children here are not being educated about the true severity of the disease and the preventative measures that can be taken to help prevent the development of Type II Diabetes.

This conversation in particular reminded me of the true reason that we are all down here. Sure, gorgeous beaches, picturesque sunsets and sunrises and new adventures may surround us everyday, but we also have the opportunity to change people’s lives here. Every person that we can educate about prevention is one more person that can potentially avoid developing Type II Diabetes. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to help the Bahamian people because I think that our group is truly making a difference. Nothing makes me happier here than when I see that the kids truly understand what we are teaching!

Another great event today was our first wellness fair that we held at Island School. We were able to screen about 45 people. It was an awesome first experience for all of us, and I would have to say that it was very successful! The Deep Creek Middle School after school program came to visit the fair, and several of us got to see our reading buddies from the previous times that we had been there. It was great to see all of the kids getting their blood pressures measured and testing their grip strength. Having our first fair at the Island School was a great preparation for our next one in a few days. Everyone was able to get a little more comfortable with all of the tests, and we got to meet some awesome people as they came through the fair. As could be expected, the grip strength test was the liveliest! I could hear everyone cheering each other on as they tested, and I’m sure that all the people involved got a few laughs from it too!

We ended the day by attending a presentation on sharks in a few reefs in Australia. It was very interesting to listen to, and I love that we get the chance to learn about a different subject area while we are here. Since we’re the only group of our kind on campus, I feel like I’m getting the chance to learn something new every day! All in all, it was a wonderful and productive day. We even got a chance to do some laundry and catch the sunset. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip holds in store for all of us! Yay Bahamacats!!!

pendrey

The Exceptional Centre for Learning, Governor’s Harbor Primary School and Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve: Amelia Christy (1-22)

Today we started off the morning a little later than usual, as the majority of us did not work out because we thought it was stormy. Little did we know, the sun was out, and what sounded like rain was actually just wind passing through the palm trees. Oops! Guess we wanted to sleep in. After breakfast we headed out to The Exceptional Centre for Learning where we taught a quick lesson to kids varying in age (from 5 to 16 years old) and learning/developmental disabilities. Once we finished the lesson, we took the kids outside to play a multitude of games, which included basketball, jumping rope, passing tennis balls around with rackets, hula hooping, swinging and kicking a soccer ball around. To wrap up our time with the kids, we listened to them recite their multiplication tables and then read books in pairs.

After teaching this first group, we hung out in Governor’s Harbor for about an hour while we ate lunch. Some of us chose to take this time to relax at a small coffee shop that had a view of the ocean. It was windy and slightly chilly so the hot coffee was warmly welcomed!

Our next stop was Governor’s Harbor Primary School to teach two classes- third and fourth grade. The class that I helped with was extremely rowdy and it was a serious challenge keeping them focused. We took the kids out to play afterward and once again that was a task seeing as all the kids were riled up.

To end our day, we took a trip to the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve to talk about bush medicine. Bush medicine was, and still is in very few places, used to treat people before “modern,” or “western,” medicine became more accessible on the island. We had a tour of the preserve and looked at the variety of the plant displays that showcased the plants used for different medicinal purposes (cold, flu, dermatitis, etc.). We also got to see a representation of edible history that showed the different plant immigrations from around the world into the Bahamas. This area of the preserve was full of really red dirt and we found out that it was actually from the Sahara desert. Over the course of millions of years, the wind had blown the red dirt to the island of the Eleuthera. Another really neat aspect of the tour was the tower. The tower was up on one of the hills and we were able to climb up and look over the whole preserve. Overall, the day was packed full, but had its moments of relaxation!

Amelia

Junior Junkanoo and Wellness Fair! David Lee (1-25)

During the morning hours of this beautiful day we all went to sunset beach and snorkeled while Kendra and Katie got an introduction to scuba diving. The snorkel spot we went to was amazing. There was a huge 60-foot crater that we could swim around and free dive into. Not much sea life there but the terrain was what made the spot for me.

Shortly after lunch we boarded the van and headed up to Governor’s Harbor to get ready for Junior Junkanoo. We got there a couple hours early and set up a wellness fair among the delicious smelling food vendors. The wellness fair wasn’t as popular as we were hoping, but we were able test blood pressure and blood glucose for 25 Bahamians.

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The festivities of Junior Junkanoo started a couple hours later. Six primary schools, one middle school and two high schools danced and paraded down Queens Highway from 5 p.m. until well after we left at 11 p.m. I think the entire population of Eluethera was in attendance. My favorite school was Deep Creek Middle School, mainly because we all spent countless hours preparing their elaborate costumes.

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This festival tops the list of our most enjoyable experiences on the trip. Some were very upset to be pried away from this good time prematurely. I’m sure the streets of Governor’s Harbor were rocking until the sun came up the next day.

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Windermere High School and Glass Window

Today we broke into three different groups to teach grades ten, eleven and twelve at Windermere High School in Governor’s Harbour. It was our first time teaching high school students, and I was really nervous because teenagers can sometimes be a little more intimidating than elementary kids. Overall our presentations were awesome. Katie, Miranda, David and I were in the same group and we each presented a section about diabetes. We set up our lesson so that students did most of the talking and teaching. The students did an amazing job participating, most of them were very knowledgeable and I was pretty impressed. We ended our lesson with a brief discussion about college, which I think is a critical topic to talk to high school students interested in furthering their education. Most of the students had great plans for after college, which we were all excited to hear.

After our presentations we drove 45 minutes north of Gregory Town to the northern side of Eleuthera. We arrived at the Glass Window and it was such an amazing site, a work of art created by Mother Nature. The Glass Window is a spot where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet. You can see the contrast between the dark blue color of the Atlantic Ocean and the light turquoise color of the Caribbean Sea. I loved it! The view of where the two bodies of water meet has by far been my favorite part of this trip so far. We sat on the rocks and ate lunch at the Glass Window and took some amazing pictures. Then on our drive back to the Island School, we stopped at a small gift shop where we were able to buy some pretty cool souvenirs! We spent quite a bit of time in there because there were so many awesome things to look at.

Glass Window (Atlantic Ocean on the left and Caribbean Sea on the right)

Glass Window (Atlantic Ocean on the left and Caribbean Sea on the right)

Then we stopped at Deep Creek Middle School where we watched the kids practice their dance for Junkanoo. The girls were dancing and the boys played the drums, trumpets and other instruments. I can’t wait to for the real shebang! After dinner we went back to Deep Creep Middle School because we were supposed to help them with their pasting earlier, but Will (the teacher) had things to do so he asked if we could come back later in the night. We pasted for about two hours, which I really enjoyed because it’s very entertaining and the costumes are looking great!

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