Summer is a time for relaxation and fun. Some prefer to spend their time lounging on the beach, while others crave adventure and excitement. To me, the best part about summer is spending time with my family and friends whom I rarely see during the school year. Students and faculty members at Groton are fortunate enough to get to do all kinds of crazy things in the summer, from traveling to the Middle East to watching the top athletes at the Olympics.
Fifth fomer Shangyan Li “went on a six week summer program with a group of American students to Jordan and Israel.” He hiked and camped in the Wadi Rum Desert and hitchhiked “for more than 100 miles from one village to another.” Not only did Shangyan experience a rugged lifestyle, he also stayed in local homes. For two days he lived with a “traditional Bedouin families in the desert who still preserved their tradition,” and he also spent “a week in a tiny village with a family who didn’t speak any English.” Shangyan experienced “quite a cultural shock,” but was learned from the group research on “development issues” and his independent research project concerning “tourism’s impact on Jordan.”
While sixth former Danny Castellanos did not travel as far from home, he did get to spend his summer at the beach where “the gulf shone a brilliant blue-green.” White water rafting was also an interesting experience for Danny. Fortunately, he did not fall off the raft, but his little sister was not as lucky. “She’s alive [though], don’t worry.” Danny had a difficult time controlling his oar because a week before, he had been in a horrific bike accident caused by an unruly pug. On this bike, “the breaks weren’t exactly” functional, and so Danny had to “manually stop the bike with [his] feet.” This would not have been a major problem, had it not been for the evil pug. This dog seemed determined to be run over by Danny’s bike, and, to prevent the pug from becoming road kill, Danny had to stop the bike abruptly while going down a very steep hill, causing him to fly over the handle bars and land on the ground. He then proceeded to walk “all the way back home, a whole mile, limping on [his] right leg, as it approached dusk.” In his words, “I looked like I came out of a world war.”
Fifth formers Ade Osinubi and KT Choi spent three weeks this summer in Ethiopia filming a documentary about women who suffer from obstetric fistula, a severe medical condition caused by a birthing injury that leaves women incontinent. They were also able to help “rehabilitate women who still suffer from the emotional scars of fistula.” These women, because of their condition, have been “abandoned by their husbands [and communities]” and are considered “social pariahs.” Ade and KT are making this documentary to educate their viewers about the realities of obstetric fistula and the lives of the victims. KT’s favorite part about Ethiopia was filming the countryside because “it was a huge contrast [with] the city.” Unfortunately, both KT and Ade got sick while in Ethiopia. Ade was diagnosed with typhoid and had to stay overnight in the hospital. When home from Africa, Ade held a fashion show in New York and the fashion designer donated 15% of the proceeds to the project. In Korea, KT presented their project at a hospital which donated $1,000 to the cause. Their goal is to finish editing the documentary by the end of fall term and have a fundraiser to “support women who have suffered from and are suffering from fistula and other aspects to overcome fistula.”
Sixth former Suzanna Hamer also spent her summer outside of the country, but she was traveling around Europe. She spent three weeks in London during the Olympics and was fortunate enough to see men’s volleyball, the women’s tennis doubles final, the men’s tennis singles final (Federer v. Murray), and men’s diving. Suzanna said that the atmosphere was amazing – everyone was really excited to be there (Quotation?). There were also people from all over the world. She went to the events with the Bousas who had passes that allowed them to enter the American House – a house where the athletes can go for free food and beverages. The only bad part was that it took a long time to get around. After the Olympics, Suzanna went to Spain for three weeks with high school students from all over the world (she was the only American). Even though “everything was closed” between one and four pm, the other people staying in the house (which house?) made it a fun experience.
Latin teacher Mr. McDougal spent seven weeks in Rome taking a course on archaeology and the topography of Ancient Rome, offered at the American Academy in Rome. It was essentially a “classical summer school for teachers and graduate students.” Every day the students visited different sites in and around the city and learned how to distinguish the building type and age of the building from crumbling ruins. Mr. McDougal’s favorite part was “the modern city itself” because Ancient Rome and the ancient culture is “so much apart of the modern life of the city.” He enjoyed his fourth trip to Rome so much that he hopes to lead a trip sponsored by Groton to the city with Mr. G next year.
So whether you survived a dangerous bike accident or helped people in Africa, you probably have amazing stories to tell from the summer. Summer is a great time to relax and cross things off your bucket list, but not seeing your friend who lives across the country can be hard. And that’s what makes coming back to school worth it.