Category Archives: Gap Year

Hurricane Matthew Update #2

Students, interns, faculty, and staff all exited their designated shelters this morning into the bright Eleuthera sunlight. Island School and Gap Year Students filed out of the Center for Sustainable Development through cheering faculty members, interns are moving back into the grad hall, and our staff are returning to their offices to move everything back into place. Besides a few puddles on floors, our campus fared very well throughout Hurricane Matthew.
Island School and Gap Year students excitedly emerge from the Center for Sustainable Development
Island School and Gap Year students excitedly emerge from the Center for Sustainable Development
Another huge thank you to everybody who sent us good thoughts and checked in with us during the past few days. Our CEI network is strong and we are touched by the concern and compassion that was expressed by our families, friends, alums, and associates.
The Gap Year team
The Gap Year team
We will continue to track the weather in the coming days as classes resume, Gap Year students gear up for their triathlon, and researchers get back in the field.

Hurricane Matthew Update

Wednesday October 5th, 2:10 PM

Good Afternoon Parents and Friends,

The surprisingly pleasant, breezy weather stuck around though the night into the morning. The final dinner circle looked a lot different with the central flag pole having been removed, but the energy from students was as high as ever. This morning the weather is rainy and cool with good breezes when the rain bands come through.
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Last night Liz, the Dean of Students, had students gather around the white board to break down the set-up in CSD. The building has been sectioned into Beach House dorm, Treehouse dorm, Quiet Zone, Food area, etc. to make the best use of the open space. The evening ended with a story read by Liz.
A little music goes a long way
A little music goes a long way
Gap year students have moved into the conference room and are taking advantage of the black board to flex some of their artistic talents. The conference table provides a great place to get some work done, pay games, or have meals.
The blackboard in the Gap Year room
The blackboard in the Gap Year room
Interns have been housed with CEI and Island School faculty and staff on campus and at CEI Director Annabelle Brooks’ house. The apartments are built well above any predicted storm surges.  Our unique position on the western hook of South Eleuthera and off the Exuma Sound protects our campus from flooding. Nearly ten years ago, our campus weathered a Category 5 hurricane. The storm surge never came above the deck of our dining hall, providing us all reassurance in our position on the island. For information about how a storm surge might affect our location, please see this graphic provided by Weather Underground.
Interns housed on campus broke out the games and knot-tying skills today
Interns housed on campus broke out the games and knot-tying skills today
We are ready for today. CSD will remain home base for the students as they participate in morning stretches, class, meals, and community building activities. Check back here for updates as the weather evolves throughout the day. We continue to be touched by the warm thoughts coming our way. As always, please feel free to contact our Boston office with questions:

Spring 2016 Gap Year Update

The Spring 2016 Team Gap has had a great first few weeks. Everyone has gotten to know each other very quickly and we are all enjoying our time in Eleuthera.
gappers in Page Creek learning about the importance of mangroves and their role in the greater ocean ecosystem.
gappers in Page Creek learning about the importance of mangroves and their role in the greater ocean ecosystem.
We began the week with some snorkeling introductions and began our marine ecology class, learning the fish of The Bahamas, and putting that into context learning about coral reef ecology.
Exploring the Banyan tree in Rock Sound
Exploring the Banyan tree in Rock Sound
Gapper Mason dives down to get a closer look at the reef
Gapper Mason dives down to get a closer look at the reef

We wrapped up the week with a South Eleuthera road trip to learn about and see different parts of the island. Team Gap is looking forward to the next 8 weeks of learning and laughs. Stay tuned for more updates on our adventures.

CEI Gap Year Triathalon

Education and research may be the staples of CEI, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. As part of the Gap Program, the students train throughout their semester for a culminating event- a Triathlon. Tuesday marked the third bi-annual Gap Triathlon.

The triathletes before getting in the water to start the race
The triathletes before getting in the water to start the race
The triathletes in the first stage of the triathlon, the swim
The triathletes in the first stage of the triathlon, the swim

Comprised of three events, the triathlon aims to challenge the students using all aspects of our environment and our resources. Individually each aspect is more than manageable – ½ mile swim, 13 mile bike, 3 mile run; together they provide a veritable challenge for any competitors. In our typical unconventional style, each competitor must complete the triathlon on one of the schools beach cruisers, giving our triathlon an island feel.

 Emilio Vargas (Gap student) on the 13 mile cycle
Emilio Vargas (Gap student) on the 13 mile cycle

On Tuesday, nine competitors completed the course we have fondly come to know as the Talapia-thon (after our aquaponics system). The effort put into the event by the competitors was matched, if not surpassed, by the support the community gave during the event. Congratulations to all who competed, assisted, and cheered, and here’s to the next bi-annual triathlon later this year.

Update From the Spring 2015 Gap Year Team

Here is an update from our Spring gappers:

Travel. A new place. A different rhythm. Novel colours, sounds and smells assail many a traveler as they set foot on foreign land. With this often comes the unmistakable adventure; something is just different as if the air itself was charged with anticipation. Arrival at CEI was no different (well maybe a little). With warm smiles and enthusiastic introductions, we were welcomed inside the community. The openness of those already here seemed to mitigate the shock of adjustment as we fell into the tight yet comprehensive embrace that defines the community.

August and the team teaching DCMS Fish ID class
August and the team teaching DCMS Fish ID class
Getting to know the aquaponics system first hand
Getting to know the aquaponics system first hand

From Aquaponics and permaculture, to ocean research with conservation in mind, we witnessed stimulating, cutting-edge projects that radiated a vibrant atmosphere of purpose and progress to the facility. Being exposed to this environment where sustainability is the main focus in all aspects prompted a plethora of concerns and reflections shared by the Gap students in the Human Ecology and Environmental Issues classes. How we’ve lived here will undoubtedly influence the way we act in relation to our environment and resources for the better, inspiring those around us, as we were here, to achieve a society where we can live in harmony with nature and its flows. And so on we strive. Continue reading

Gap Year Update

Gap Year 2014
Gap Year students prepare for their 5-day kayak adventure.

We’re officially back on campus safe and sound! Over the past two weeks we have been embracing the adventure and outdoor education component of the Gap Year Program here at CEI.  We have had the time of our lives traveling along the island of Eleuthera by kayak one week and by van the next.

Our kayak trip took us along the Eleutheran coast through the Bahamas Banks.  Paddling by day, in the evenings we would bring our kayaks onto the beach and set up camp, cooking dinner on an open fire despite what turned out to be one of our biggest challenges – the bugs! Every night bar the last one a storm rolled in with lots of rain and some lighting and thunder. Despite it all, though, we still had a great time.  We also all survived our solo experiences – 27 hours of solitary thought and reflection on a secluded beach on the banks.  Continue reading

Gap Year Student Update

The Fall Gap Year Program is underway and boy have the gappers come a long way since we met, as seven strangers, at the Rock Sound Airport three weeks ago. With our fearless leaders, Liz and Pat, we have become a tight-knit family. Between getting SCUBA certified and oriented to campus, we had an action-packed first week.

Gap Years 2014 clean up community service at ocean hole in red
Gap Year students participate in community service clean-up at the Ocean Hole Park in Rock Sound.

At the start of our second week, we really got into the swing of things. We began our classes, Human Ecology and Environmental Issues, where we learned how to live more sustainably in our daily lives. Each of us chose a topic of interest to research and present to the rest of the group. Continue reading

Gap Year Students in the Field with the Lionfish and Sustainable Fisheries Teams

lionfish dissection external
During lionfish dissections, external total and standard length measurements are taken.

Gap Year students spent an afternoon with the sustainable fisheries program, dissecting lionfish and engaging in discussion about the invasive species. During the dissection students poked at lionfish visceral fat and removed the fishes’ venomous spines, among other organs. The dissection was a hands-on way to see how these habitat and feeding generalists thrive in the Bahamas. They eat during all hours of the day and, as a result, have more visceral fat than most fish. Understanding mechanisms which make lionfish such successful invaders is an important first step to effective management of the species.

After learning about the latest research regarding lionfish prey preferences and feeding habits, Gap Year students headed into the field to try their hand at catching prey fish for the lab.  Armed with fins, snorkels, and hand nets, the team of 5 targeted juvenile fish which could be used in lab choice trials.  Despite initial setbacks (catching fish has a learning curve!) the excursion was ultimately a success and a collection of damselfish, silversides, and grunts made their way back to the CEI wet lab.

Final weeks, final research with the Gap Year students

Gap Year students after completing their annual triathalon
Gap Year students after completing their annual triathalon

The Spring 2014 Gap Year students are nearing the end of their program here at CEI. The last portion of the course is a three week internship with one of our research programs at the Institute. Below are accounts from both students on how their experience has been since joining the Sustainable Fisheries and Shark Research and Conservation Program, respectively.

Continue reading