Making the Most of Summer

It’s mid-July and we’re not in Barcelona or Oxford.  We’re not on campus at Berkeley or Stanford or Tufts.  We’re mostly staying home and we’re wearing masks and avoiding crowds or crowded places.  It’s a very different summer than the one we imagined even six months ago but we’re happy to report that in spite of all of the changes and new restrictions, we are connecting students from around the world and continuing to foster learning and growth throughout the summer.

When we first talked about virtual classes we were doubtful.  How would it work?  Sure, we have fantastic faculty but would anyone listen when they couldn’t go to a new, exciting location?  Well, as it turns out, we have quite a few students who decided that they wanted to keep learning even if they had to stay home.  And we are SO excited!  Our classes have been really well received.  Our students have been so focused and engaged and attentive.  The discussions and debates and sharing of ideas has been absolutely rejuvenating for our Summerfuel team.  SF Virtual has given us the motivation and energy to continue planning for an in-person 2021.  And it has helped US to remember to think outside the box and look beyond the immediate barriers.  Thank you to all of the students who took a leap of faith and joined us for Sessions 1 and 2.  We have two more sessions on offer this summer so if you’re looking for something to fill your day, take a look.  Session 3 begins July 20th and Session 4 starts August 3rd.  We’d love to have you!

We miss you Boston!

Our International Relations students have arrived!!!


Our International Relations program students arrived earlier this week and it has been quite the start! Our students have started taking their language courses, attending lectures and participating in some very relevant workshops.

This week our students participated in a Workshop on Cultural Competency. During this time, the students shared with each other the stories about their names – with many sharing the proper pronunciation in their native languages, describing the different meanings, explaining why their parents decided to call them as they are, as well as the generational or cultural significance each name had in connection to their family origins.

After discussing their stories, the students reflected on this activity. They shared their thoughts with the group about why they thought such an exercise was significant. Many connected their stories to first impressions, identity, culture, worldview, among other aspects of importance. Others expressed a consideration of value systems, such as the open-mindedness necessary to curiously ask people about what makes them different in comparison to our own backgrounds. Overall, the staff involved were able to appreciate the bonds being created during this exercise as they observed how many were getting to know each other for the first time or were getting to know their peer from a new perspective.

Following this, the students had the opportunity to go by different corners of the room and express their thoughts on posters titled: “Questions”, “Concerns”, “Commitments” and “Hopes”.  Through this exercise, the students were able to discuss their thoughts amongst themselves and process their expectations as they start their program.

The students have been very engaged not only throughout this workshop, but with the many other activities planned. We are looking forward to hearing about what they will be learning and are excited to share more as the days progress.

Mocha, the chocolate lab @ Tufts

Mocha, the eight year old gentle chocolate lab graced Summerfuel Tufts with her presence this Monday afternoon. Her friendly and approachable demeanor attracted a variety of students from different programs to observe her excel at dog tricks. She sat, shook paws/hands, rolled around, acted dead and even caught a tennis ball in the air! She was a welcome surprise for the students and truly made their day!

Mocha’s performance helped soothe students as they approach their last few weeks at Summerfuel. They enjoyed petting her, rolling around with her and ‘AWWing’ in synchrony to her cuteness. It was fantastic to see all the students surround her, care for her every need (lots of water) and truly showed the power of cute dogs.

We look forward to welcoming Mocha back on campus next year and cannot wait to help our students finish strong!

A Student’s Take

Our summer at Tufts has been “fueled” in Dewick MacPhie Dining Hall every day. With a constantly changing menu, the dining hall has healthy choices that can accommodate many types of diets–vegetarian and vegan, gluten free, or nut free. These choices make it easy for students to choose healthy options and ensure a home-away-from-home feel.

Farouk, a student in Carmichael Hall, talked to us about his experiences at Summerfuel Tufts and in the dining hall from the past few days.

Staff: “Let me start out by asking you about the dining around here. What do you think of the dining hall and the food options?

Farouk: “I think it’s great, honestly. There’s such a wide variety of food, and like every day it’s something new. And you know, like, feeding over a hundred kids a day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is not easy. It’s really good, and especially where I come from, it’s something different and I really like the food here so far.”

Staff: “Okay, so you said especially where you’re coming from. Where is that exactly? How would you compare the food here to where you’re coming from?

Farouk: “Of course. I’m from Switzerland, and the food is more limited there, so we don’t always get as many choices. We sometimes just have one meal for everyone, even if sometimes you have a certain condition, they might not be able to alter the menu and you may just have to stick with that. But definitely here, it seems that if you’re allergic to anything they’ll have an alternative meal for you. It’s really nice and it’s really easy to get to the dining hall. It’s also really great because you see everyone there and it’s not like a tight space. It’s really spread out and a nice environment to eat in.”

Staff: “What did you think about community night last night? Did you enjoy it? ”

Farouk: “No yeah, it was great. I got to learn a lot about my RA, Kevin. He actually showed us this really cool clip of Captain America, the Winter Soldier where he’s in a really small scene. And we were all fascinated by it, and we asked so many questions and bonded over our love of Marvel movies.”

Staff: “Prior to Community Night, had you had a meal with all of your hall-mates?”

Farouk: “Most of them, yeah, because we share the same classes. But some of them I had not spent a lot of time with yet, so it was really cool to finally get to know them and talk to them.”

Staff: “Do you have any other thoughts about your dining experience at Summerfuel Tufts so far?”

Farouk: “I mean, honestly, it’s really great. That’s just the way I would end it. The food quality is also great. Even if maybe they don’t have something you would like, they have something else in case you would want to try something different. When I sit with my friends, there’s a lot of people around, but I can always find space to sit and chat with new people.”

The Wait – Arrivals Day

Today we kicked off our Tufts Summerfuel 2019 Program and received our first wave of students! Summerfuel Pre-College (PC), Summerfuel College Admissions Edge (CAE), Tufts Summer Research Experience (TSRE), and Tufts College Experience (TCE) made their way to campus today from all over the world. Our staff spent the day in the airport, roaming train stations, and on campus, anxiously waiting to greet the students.

As the traffic of arrivals settled down, the students headed to orientation to get up to speed on how the program works, learn some important rules, and play some icebreaker games! Afterwards, they headed to the Dewick MacPhie dining hall for dinner with new friends. During this meal a Tufts Sustainability Center staff member talked to the students about the campus recycling rules and how important it is to try and reduce waste.

After dinner the students headed back to their dorms to meet with their Resident Advisors, and then it was straight on to our first event of the Summer! The Flavors of the World Mixer is a fun laid back event that combines our two favorite things: making friends and ice cream! Students write down some information about themselves, stick it on the wall in our main lounge, grab their favorite flavor of ice-cream, and mingle with other Summerfuel students. We know some may be tired from a long day of travel, but they won’t want to miss this tasty event!

Tomorrow is our first full day of orientation. Students will get a tour of campus, head to their first classes and experience their first full day of Summerfuel. At night all students will participate in the Greek Cup, the most exciting Olympic style games Tufts campus has ever seen—or at least we think so! Which team will be the Summerfuel champions? Will it be Team Mario, Team Luigi, Team Inky, or Team Blinky?! Check back tomorrow to find out!


New 2019 Pre-College Courses

Here at Summerfuel we always like to keep things fresh and interesting. We believe that it is so important to expand our horizons and explore new topics that we normally wouldn’t encounter in every day life. We are beyond excited to introduce new courses at all 3 of our Pre-College programs. From Fashion and App Design to Animals and the Environment, these new additions cover it all.

Pre-College at Tufts

Animal Science
Film Study
Sports Medicine
Multimedia & Web Programming
Creative Writing
American History in Boston Workshop
Art Museums of Boston Workshop
Theater Acting Workshop

Pre-College at Oxford

Film Production
Film Studies

Pre-College at UC Berkeley

Computer Science & App Design
Pitch to Production – Film
Introduction to Environmental Science
Introduction to Fashion Design
Sketch the City Workshop
TV Acting Workshop


Contact us today to learn more about these exciting new courses!

Trampolines Bring Us Together

As the Tufts College Experience (TCE) program moves towards its final days, it has been amazing to watch the social interaction between the students. This weekend, we went to Skyzone, an indoor trampoline park. In many ways it was a fitting culmination of the entire program. Many of the girls were taking snapchats together, covered in glow in the dark paint while the boys engaged in fierce competition, determined to claim bragging rights at any cost. One thing has become incredibly clear to me. These students, who come from all over the globe, have formed very intimate groups. These intimate groups mingle to form a larger crowd, one that is inclusive of everyone. It was strange; I saw no students struggling to find friends or fit in. It was all natural. During our final game of dodgeball, the trampoline court was full of laughter from staff and students alike. Everybody, from our director to the students, were participating in the fun. The scene was so pure and so amazing to watch. It is crazy what six weeks can do and how they bring us together. 




What Summerfuel IR Students Have to Say: Q + A

As the International Relations (IR) program here at Summerfuel Tufts brings itself to a close, our staff has collected feedback on the program from students. Like College Admissions Edge and Pre-College, IR, one of six programs currently run through Summerfuel at Tufts, has provided an amazing learning opportunity for our students. We recently interviewed some of them about their experiences. Below, we share highlights from these conversations:


Interviewer: Why did you choose to participate in this program?

Student 1: I was interested in International Relations and I liked how it offers Tufts credits because Tufts is one of the schools I am applying to.

Student 2: This program interested me incredibly, given my aptitude and love for language along with my hopes to study IR in college. Because of my interest in history along with IR, I truly feel like I can make this world a better place.

Student 3: I thought it was an incredible opportunity to challenge myself and get a taste for a field I consider studying in the future!


Interviewer: What has been your favorite learning experience thus far?

Student 1: My favorite topic has been the EU Economic Integration and the idea of failing states. I hope to explore this more in depth during my time in college.

Student 2: My favorite lecture was about how to interpret history accurately in the field of international relations.

Student 3: My favorite lecture has been The Basics of Cyber Security and Economics of Political Integration.


Interviewer: Knowing that you had a pretty rigorous academic schedule, how effective were the teaching assistants (TAs) hired to assist you?

Student 1: The TA’s were extremely effective. Our TA understands that we have a lot of work and this is all very new to us, which is very helpful. For me, it was all about finding a healthy space to finish my work. Honestly, the library is super fun to study in. The environment and mutual respect amongst all occupants made the library a positive space for studying and learning.

Student 2: It is more than anything a chance to review what we learned personally, make questions fast, and research effectively among friends and experts.

Student 3: I like how my TA is genuinely interested in our research papers. He was really knowledgeable and understood what it’s like to be a student.


Interviewer: What is your favorite part of your week outside of the classroom?

Student 1: Playing basketball and taking pictures during my free time and wandering on campus.

Student 2: The friends! The dinners out of campus and the people you can go out with!

Student 3: Although there is not much free time on certain days, I always try to finish my homework before we go out, and get some laundry done before dinner. Afterwards, I enjoyed hanging out with friends, eating and walking with my peers, and forming study groups at the library.


What about you?

Students participating in this and other Summerfuel at Tufts programs grow as diligent students, responsible residents, and effective socialites in the college setting. What are your thoughts on this opportunity? Could you see yourself in their shoes?