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Partner’s in Island Education now oversees four scholarships as part of its mission to enhance educational opportunities for the students of Vinalhaven. Two of these are for travel and education.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous summer family, PIE is able to offer a new scholarship to help students pay for educational programs and travel opportunities. The one time gifts range in amounts of up to $2500. Scholarship application deadlines are January 15th and May 15th of each year.
Polina Walsh, a 2017 Travel & Education Scholarship recipient had this reflection upon her return:
“It was not an easy decision to make when I changed my summer plans from educating and caring for young children in the Philippines to two weeks of vigorous physical training and leadership development. Yet, I knew it was necessary because the Future Leader Camp (FLC) was a window that allowed me to view into my upcoming freshman year at Norwich University (NU). Knowing the standards that NU sets for students in the Corps of Cadets (CC), I understood that I have signed up for intense training in FLC. What I wish to gain coming into Rookdom (Freshman) year is the building of character to improve my leadership skills. I crack under pressure easily and give up, and my higher self knew it was time for a change. I wish to improve myself to be more successful in the future with whatever challenges I may face. I hope that by motivating myself to step out of my comfort zone I will become ready to take on the real world.
On July 23, I went to the Ransom barracks on the Upper Parade (UP) grounds, and I felt extremely nervous. I met my roommate, Participant Park. She is an Honor Cadet within the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) at her school. The staff of the camp were current students at Norwich, most of whom are going into their second year. The first thing the staff will tell the participants is that the FLC is not meant to be fun. We would undergo two weeks of training like the cadre would make Rooks do to tear them down, just to make them stronger. It was meant to push participants past their limits, mentally and physically, to make them affective leaders when real high-stake issues are at hand. We had to act and have the mindset of an actual soldier in combat. I am not used to the military lifestyle. I was going against participants who are Eagle Scouts, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), in JROTC, or even climbed mountains all their lives. They are “Physical Training (PT) Studs,” and I, for one, am a “PT Dud.” The Norwich University motto and guiding value is, “I Will Try.” My mindset for the first several days were, “I Might Die.” The first half of the week broke me a little bit. As I was thinking about the intense pain, I knew that a lifetime of glory will follow. I’m proud of myself for sticking through the two weeks, and I am proud to attend NU.
There were six participants in Alpha Squad. Staff Sergeant Walker was the squad leader, along with Corporal Bouyett who was a fellow incoming Rook. Staff Sergeant Roche was 1st Platoon’s Sergeant. First Sergeant Ruot was the Company Commander. Squads competed against each other in numerous activities, but the platoons competed to win the most streamers on their guidons. It’s amazing how much you can do in a day. Almost every day we woke up at 5:00 AM to do PT for an hour and a half. They would wake us up by banging on our doors, and we had to quickly change into PT gear. After PT we would hygiene, and there would be a time hack we had to beat. One time we had to get ready in 6 minutes. So, we pretty much had to take a 2-minute shower and dress in our Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs) which were a uniform of camo pants, camo cover, boots, t-shirt, and gear. One time my roommate and I went over the time hack limit, so Staff Sergeant Walker made us do it all over again in 3 minutes. She made us do this because the more time you take to get ready, more soldiers are likely to die. This made me realize how fast soldiers must react to certain situations, because if you are under fire you can’t waste a single second. The days consisted of PT, lectures, marching practice, mountain climbing, and other activities in between Chow (meal time).
Every day was something new. My least favorite activity was when I rappelled off an 88-foot cliff, since I’m very afraid of heights. My favorite activity was paintballing and the Field Training Exercise (FTX). During FTX we marched 1.8 miles to a field where we had to camp at. We learned how to tie knots, build a hooch (a tent made of logs and leaves), read maps, identify tracks and build snares, start fires, find edible plants, and filter water. We shot airsoft rifles, learned what to bring when camping, did archery, and built a bonfire the size of three cars. The night we built a bonfire all the participants had smores. If any of the staff members saw us leave to use our personal camp fire, they yelled at us to come back and use the scorching embers of the giant fire. After FTX, participants got so much closer, because I guess that’s what spending 3 days in the wilderness will do to you. I became close with the 6 other girls that stayed at FLC. Everybody was very motivational and supported one another.
I would like to thank Partners in Island Education (PIE) for supporting me to attend this camp. It’s not often an opportunity comes along that allows me experience what I did. The PIE Travel Scholarship allowed me to attend FLC and learn the most valuable life lessons. This camp is going to make Rook week so much easier. As I get ready for college, I think about how prepared I feel because of FLC. I am looking forward to the challenges that will come my way at NU, knowing that it’ll only make me a better citizen soldier.”
Jordan Radley, a 2017 Travel & Education Scholarship recipient had this reflection upon his return:
“From June 29th to July 1st I attended the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders in Lowell, Massachusetts. Thousands of the brightest students (delegates) from across the country congregated at the Tsongas Center in downtown Lowell to discover the secrets of success from some of the most influential people in the fields of science and technology. Among the dozens of speakers were MIT graduates and Nobel Prize winners.
One of the speakers was John C. Mather, Ph.D., the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics, whose work with cosmic microwave background radiation helped cement the Big Bang theory of the universe. Another speaker at the Congress was Sylvester James Gates, Jr., who is recognized for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory and is a recipient of the National Medal of Science for Physical Science. Also, the delegates were able to witness one of Boston Dynamic’s quadruped robots which are widely known for their use in the the military. Lastly, my personal favorite, Dr. Robert Metcalfe, (who has ties to Vinalhaven) is the inventor of ethernet, founder of 3com, and a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Metcalfe before his presentation and talk to him about the Congress and the importance of making lasting connections. Ironically, this summer, I ran into him at Greets Eats and he invited me to have lunch with him and his friends, who each gave me tips on decisions regarding my future education.
In conclusion, each speaker at the Congress had their own way of relaying their personal success story, yet the central message emphasized by all was, “never give up!” The experience at the Congress helped me rethink my future and taught me that the key to success is to work hard, never give up, and do what you love.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to participate as a delegate in the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders and would like to thank PIE for their generous financial contribution toward the total cost of this enlightening opportunity. “
Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes, a 2017 Travel & Education Scholarship recipient had these thoughts upon her return:
“Time flies when you’re having fun, which I really got to experience when traveling through Costa Rica with others across the United States. Throughout this program, I had the chance to participate in new activities, meet new people, be around people who speak a different language, try new foods, and really immerse myself in the Costa Rican culture. Some of the highlights throughout this trip was learning how to surf, seeing monkeys jump from tree to tree, and trying different foods like rambutan. These are just a very few examples of the adventures that filled the journey. Throughout the unplugged two weeks, I really got to know everyone by laughing with each other at the beach, tubing down rivers, ziplining through the jungle, soccer, and white water rafting. This trip was also very educational. I got the chance to stay with a Spanish homestay family that didn’t speak any English, and me not speaking any Spanish, found this difficult but a challenge accepted. We also got to see landmarks such as volcanos, and hot springs. We also went on night hikes to learn about the different animals in the forrest. This trip was not only fun and educational, but we all came together at a local home and built a “wall of love” for a community member. Not only that, but another one of my highlights was playing with the little kids at a local school. One girl saw me and clung to me that day like she was my new little sister. Together we drew monkeys, puppies, played hop scotch, and walked through the streets together. She wasn’t the only friend I made on this trip. During our free time, my group members and I would all hang out in one of our rooms before we went to bed. One night, all the girls decided it would be fun to do one of the boy’s makeup, Niko was a trooper. Another fun memory with them all was listening to Gabby, Bella, and Max sing and play ukulele for us all like it was our own mini concert and we can’t forget the dance session one of our group leaders, Allan, gave us, or the run I went to with Camryn and Lindy to this big hallow tree and climbed to nearly the top. I am very thankful for having the opportunity to travel and experience all of these adventures, which not have been possible without the help of PIE. I can’t thank Partners in Island Education enough for this once in a lifetime opportunity and these unforgettable memories.”
Andrea Shane, a 2016 Travel & Education Scholarship recipient, returned from her 5-month stay in Guatemala on May 24th. Here is what she had to say before her return:
“I decided my Junior year that I was going to take a gap year and come to Guatemala. I’m so glad that I stuck with my decision because it has been life changing.
I have volunteered with both children and animals, most of my time with exotic animals. We rescue animals that either people bring to us or animals that are being smuggled across the border. We treat them and release them back into the wild if they are able, but if not they live with us permanently. It is such a unique experience I would have never had if I did not come to Guatemala.
Not only do I get to volunteer and help people and animals, but I get to experience a whole different life I never really knew existed. I have a better understanding of the world and what’s outside of my tiny little island that I grew up on. Living in a third world country has also made me appreciate the life I do have back home. I am so fortunate to have everything I do and that I was able to come on this trip and realize this.
If you are thinking about volunteering abroad, do it, you will not regret it. Thank you to the Island Institute and to PIE for helping me make this happen.”
Another exciting new scholarship opportunity! In partnership with The Experiment, PIE is offering a scholarship to ONE high school student per year who applies and is accepted into The Experiment summer program. PIE will contribute $2500 and The Experiment will contribute $2500 to this scholarship, making a total of $5000.
Keaton Lear is our very first EIL scholarship recipient who traveled to Spain this past summer in the Language and Cultural Traditions program. Here is a reflection from Keaton upon his return:
Dear Members of PIE,
I would like to thank you for your overwhelming support that made my trip to Spain possible. The trip that I took part in this past July through the Experiment in International Living was unforgettable. This trip has certainly made a difference in my life. Through this month long journey I have learned a great deal about Spain and the rest of the world. My experience has taught me that there are not only people like me who love to travel, make friends, and have fun in the U.S., but there are people just like us all over the globe. The thing that I am most thankful for is the opportunity you gave me to become lifelong friends with these people.
With Many Thanks,
My thoughts shared with the Experiment in International Living:
The homestay experience on my trip was one that I will always remember. I’ll never forget the first night I met my host brother Alvaro and his family. At first I was a bit nervous of whether or not I was going to be able to communicate with my family, for I had only taken a year of Spanish in advance. This also made me worried that they might not like me as much because of all the frustration that would come with trying to talk with one another. Once I stepped off the bus and was greeted by Alvaro and his mother I knew this was not the case. Not only was the fact that my host brother spoke English very well comforting, but also all of the hugging and general friendliness going on all around me. This along with all of the friends I made during my time there and the general attitude of the people in Spain just made me think that there are people all over the world who are kind and friendly not just in my hometown in the USA. Overall I think that the experience will make me more outgoing and trusting towards other people on my return to the U.S.
On my trip to Spain with the Experiment, I learned a lot about the country, the language, and the people. While there I was exposed to the language 24/7 as well as having classes for two weeks. The skill that developed most during my experience has to have been my ability to listen to and comprehend people speaking Spanish. I’ll admit I’m not fluent in the language but understanding it has become much easier because of the time I spent learning to pick apart the sentences.
Another skill that I improved on would probably have been my ability to make friends. This is something that I find to be very important in life and making connections with people that I may have never known otherwise was a great experience for me. On my return home to the United States I will use the skills I gained to hopefully make many more connections with many more lifelong friends like the ones I met in Spain.
I feel that the experiment has changed the way I view myself by showing me that I can learn a lot while still having a good time. One of the main reasons I applied for this trip was to travel, meet people, and just have fun. The fact that I learned so much on this journey while having one of the best months of my life was a real eye opener as to what kind of experiences I want to have over the course of my life. One way I stepped out of my comfort zone while I was in Spain was to overcome my “fear” of cities. It’s not really a fear per say but more of an unusual situation for me. I come from an island off the coast of Maine with a year round population of around 1,200 people, so being in larger cities for a good portion of the trip was a good experience for me to try new things. Through the hours of exploring the cities with my new friends I developed the skills needed to navigate throughout the city and get us to where we needed to go. This also ties into being a leader, since I found that I was one of the ones always ready to whip out a map and get my group to where we needed to be. Although this does not mean I viewed myself as a leader of the group. As I mentioned in one of my previous paragraphs, I am not the most fluent of Spanish speakers. This was one way that I saw myself as part of the whole group, being very good at one thing and not so great at the other and allowing others time to shine. I found that generally there was no one leader but the group as a whole was strong.
One critical global issue that I found on the trip was something that I was actually hoping on getting away from when leaving the country but was still stuck talking about for at least a little of the time while there. That subject was politics, and as you can imagine neither party had a very happy conversation. Luckily most people shared the same views on everything and the subject was dropped very quickly the few times it was brought up. This really told me something about my own country in the way that things happening today in the United States effects the whole world. I was surprised that when I went there all of the people that I had a deep conversation with had an opinion on American politics, especially because I had no idea going into the trip what the state of Spanish politics was in, because in America Spain is not discussed very often. I’m not quite sure exactly how to take action on things like this except to try to do my duty the best I can as an American who can vote. Another way that I will take action is through the model UN program in the state of Maine. This past year I participated in the Maine Model United Nations program and this was a good way to get to know how international relations work in the world. Maybe having more programs like this could help people understanding how to deal with and understand world problems.
A Journal Entry dated July 11, 2017. In Spain it is normal to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning so by the time I got home every night I was way too tired to write anything. But don’t despair, for I remember this past week in detail. On our first full day with our host family’s we woke early, went to the cathedral and met everybody and learned their names. After that a few of us went to the pool and hung out. This was when I spent some time with Alvaro and his friends. I met one of his best friends Andres and he would soon become one of my best friends as well.