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What Summerfuel has Meant to Me: A TCE Student Reflects

Claudio Colonna, 17, had not expected the amount of fun and drive he would receive from attending Summerfuel at Tufts’ Tufts College Experience (TCE). With this only being his second time in the United States (and his first time flying alone), Claudio had worried about whether he would bond with students or staff, but was pleasantly surprised when he got to do both. For Claudio, and most students who attend Summerfuel TCE, the fear of making no or very few friends could prove a source of angst. However, the reality quickly sets in that this is not the case and students ease up shortly upon arrival to the campus when they participate in orientation activities with their Resident Assistants (RA’s).

Though it was a learning curve at first, Claudio quickly recognized the benefit and took full advantage of relating to his RA. RA’s are present and easily reachable to give students guidance, leadership opportunities, mentoring, positive study habits, friendship, and so much more. They also serve as authority figures, balancing between the roles of older “sibling” and enforcer.

Academically, Claudio achieved most of his goals, but, following this challenging and enriching experience, came to accept that not all aspects of one’s academic career will turn out as one imagines. He also realized that, no matter how well high school prepares a student for college/university, it is not until one steps onto a college campus and takes coursework that one senses what university is actually like. From the bonding between residents and staff to the academic guidance the RA’s relay from their own university experiences, the students of Summerfuel, like Claudio, receive support in all manners of university life.

Claudio now recognizes the challenges he’ll face upon studying at his future alma mater and feels more prepared. As Claudio said, “To try everything at least once and get yourself into new experiences is what Summerfuel is about.” His goals are to attend a university in Turin, Italy and one day return to the United States to further his education. He aims to better his Italian homeland in a variety of manners most applicable to the education he will receive.

As Summerfuel at Tufts wraps up, Claudio and other TCE students progress through their final exams and presentations, culminating in their closing banquet and dance here at Jumbo’s home. It has been a summer fueled with fun, excitement, memories, and stories for years to come. Thank you to all Summerfuel at Tufts students for this Summerfuel session!

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. 

Sincerely,

An RA

 

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?

Laughing in our Rollerblades

Most people say roller skating is like riding a bike, you don’t forget how to skate, you just pick up right where you left off. This is a true statement for about half of the students that skated at Chez Vous.

At first we were all intimidated by the shoes with wheels and looked more like newborn giraffes learning how to walk instead of confident people. After a few laps on the rink, the roller skating days from our youth started to shine again, for others, not so much (including myself).

Despite the continuous wobbles and falls, we kept trying until closing time. This is a perfect representation of Summerfuel students; fall once, get back up and learn from your mistakes, all while having fun.

Breakfast Club at Summerfuel

As the most important meal of the day, breakfast time is always a good time! Over the weekend, we attended Summerfuel Tuft’s evening breakfast complete with a cereal bar, waffle station, bacon, eggs, bagels, yogurt, and yummy fun! This breakfast club hosted an exciting karaoke station too where students sang and jammed to the catchy tunes of Hamilton, the Bee Gees, F.U.N., and so much more! It was a great way to wind down from the busy week and enjoy each other’s company outside of the classroom.

Summerfuel Creates Superheros

Every great Superhero comes with a great backstory. Here at Summerfuel, all of our students experience the origin story of their inner hero. Students at Summerfuel Tufts face many things that help them prepare for the future when they leave the University and embark on their college journey. They are given many tests to prove their strength as a Summerfuel Superhero throughout their time here. They learn many new skills as they face obstacles,  conquer villains, and form bonds with other hero’s that will last a lifetime

Test One: Move In Day

On the first day, our students are thrown into a new world. They meet people from all over the world and  experience many culture shocks from either being in a new country, or speaking to others that have traveled great lengths to get here. Communication and social skills are tested as they interact with not only other students, but their families, RA’s, and Senior Staff Members. They are encouraged to talk about themselves and participate during orientation activities that help them get to know each other. During this time, they are able to share stories, experiences, and past times.

Test Two: Time Management

As students are faced with schedules that may change day to day, they are tested on their time management skills. When is homework time? When do I hangout with friends? Should I wake up early before class to eat breakfast? Should I go to evening activities if I have a test tomorrow morning? These are all common questions that our heroes-in-training ask themselves. When faced with a lot of different responsibilities and tasks, it can be hard to figure out when is the right time to engage in different activities. These skills are self taught and are strengthened as the students get used to their schedules and what works best for them. Every hero is different and what works for one student, might not work for another.

Test Three: Exams

This is the part of the story where each hero has to overcome their first villain: exams. Exams can be tough for most students and are prepared for in many different ways. Some students like to study in groups by exchanging information in the common spaces, while others prefer to work alone in their room with a laptop and a set of flashcards. The most important part when facing your villain is to figure out the plan that works best for you and to take charge of it to the conquer the beast.

Test Four: Activities

Our afternoon and evening activities are great places for each hero to show and practice their powers. Some superpowers that we see being shown during these are artistic, singing, dancing, and even trivia skills. Creativity is important and we try to give every hero the opportunity to showcase and practice their power!! Successful Summerfuel Heroes are able to learn from others and use ideas to improve their own powers.

Test Five: Goodbyes 🙁

Goodbyes are our least favorite part here at Summerfuel, but it is an important part of the hero making process. Reflecting on the good times we’ve had over the summer helps all the students appreciate their time with each other and realize how much they have grown. At this point, our students have all become heroes and are recognized for their achievements at our closing banquets. They are asked to give speeches where they speak on their time at the program and about the things they learned and the people they have met along the way.

Saying goodbye can be hard, but it takes a lot of strength and courage to say “I’ll see you later” instead. All of our heroes are continuing their journeys of saving the world and being strong members of society. We are sure that some of their paths will collide and that they will work together to continue the Summerfuel Superhero Legacy!

Saying Goodbye

It’s bright and early in the morning in Oxford! About half our students have left campus, and the other half are soon to follow.

It’s hard to say goodbye, especially to good friends. But we were glad to get to know all of these students this summer, and happy they were able to form strong friendships. We’re sure these bonds will last no matter what the distance is!

Jazz Over Dinner

Here are some pics of our candlelit, served final dinner:

The food was outstanding in its plating and delectable in taste. The music was relaxing, and several staff and students even participated as singers! But the highlight of the night was the company: friends made over the summer sharing memories and wishes for the future.