Blogs

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!

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.

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!

Fiesta Fin del Curso and Goodbyes

¡Hola!

Although we were very sad to see the students leave us, we enjoyed an incredible last day together on Thursday. In the morning, our 4-week students took their final exams while the students who recently arrived from Barcelona took a bike tour along the coast of Conil. At 1 pm, we all reconvened in the school to celebrate a birthday! One of our students turned 16 today so we sang to her and ate delicious cake from a local bakery that we (and especially the birthday girl) adore.

After the birthday celebration, everyone went back to their homes for lunch and packing. The students also had some hours in the afternoon to purchase souvenirs, hang out some more with their families, or meet up with friends in town.

At night, we got together for a fiesta in celebration of the memory-filled month we’ve spent in Conil. The students’ homestay families were also invited. Highlights included a hilarious parody of “Despacito” performed by a group of students, superlative awards, and a video montage of the trip. We ate great food and enjoyed the company of all the people who made this month so special.

On Friday, we made our way to Madrid. We had time for a nice stroll around the Serrano neighborhood before eating a delicious dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant.

We said our final goodbyes on Saturday at the Madrid Barajas airport. It was hard seeing such a wonderful group go but we hope they know that they will always have a home and many, many friends in Conil.

 

Visit to Santa Clara!

Students have been VERY busy the last few days with their SAT/ACT Prep. Yesterday, students began the day with SAT/ACT Prep from 9:15-12:15pm as usual. After a quick lunch, students jetted off to Santa Clara, where they had an informational session and tour. Students returned for dinner and an Admission’s workshop on The Big Search. Students have been very busy with class and homework, so we made a short trip to CREAM, a popular ice cream chain in downtown Berkeley!

Escape from Classes

It could be said that all our activities are an escape from classes, but we took that to another level this evening. More on that later!

It’s the final week of class here, and the teachers have saved a lot of their best material to share now. In Psychology of the Criminal Mind, students presented a final project researching an infamous serial killer, which is at once fascinating and horrifying. On the other end of the spectrum, Shakespeare’s England took a field trip to Pizza Express. What does that have to do with Shakespeare? Well, it’s located in a building that was an inn frequented by Shakespeare on his travels from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon!

To escape the heat, a group of students braved the new indoor minigolf course. Themed like a junkyard and decorated with blacklights, there’s a lot to distract you from sinking your shots!

Moving into the evening, students tested their wits against our Activities Director in an escape room. They had to solve puzzles and follow clues in order to retrieve their room key from a locked box, all in just 45 minutes! Fortunately, everyone made it…

We also held our final student forum and listened to feedback on the program overall. We’re always happy to hear positive comments and eager to listen to suggestions to continue making the program an even better experience!

Gibraltar and Tarifa

¡Hola a todos!

This morning we set off for our last group excursion. Our first destination was Gibraltar. Upon arrival, we took the cable car up to the “top of the rock” where we enjoyed incredible views of the Strait of Gibraltar and the coast of Spain. On the drive to Gibraltar from Conil, we even spotted Africa in the distance! The students were pretty surprised by how close Africa is to the south of Spain.

On the top of the rock in Gibraltar, we also got to see and take pictures of monkeys. These monkeys are actually one of the main attractions in Gibraltar! Check out some of the great photos from our group.

After coming down from the rock, we walked into town to find lunch. Some students also did some shopping since Gibraltar’s main street has some British stores that aren’t available in Spain.

On our way back to Conil, we stopped in a big surf town called Tarifa. However, instead of surfing we went snorkeling! The water was pretty cold but we had a fun time anyway. After the snorkeling excursion, some students played a quick game of beach volleyball before we got back on the bus.

On another note, yesterday was our last day of surf classes. The students who recently arrived from Barcelona also got to participate and give surf a try! After surf class, we also played basketball versus some locals. Tomorrow the students will take the final exam for their Spanish classes. Wish them luck!

Cádiz, Vejer, and Last Day of Cooking!

¡Hola!

After recently saying goodbye to three of our students, we welcomed two students from the Barcelona program to spend the last week with us in Conil. After they arrived on Saturday afternoon, we took an excursion to Cádiz.

We began our tour of Cádiz at the Torre Tavira, an old watchtower. Since Cádiz has one of the most important ports of trade in Spain, the watchtowers were used to protect the city. At the time, Torre Tavira was the main watchtower since it is located in the center and at the highest point in the city.

After learning about Torre Tavira’s importance and enjoying the views from the terrace level, we took a brief walking tour of the old part of the city. After that, students had free time for shopping, exploring, and finding an afternoon snack!

On Sunday, we visited a nearby town called Vejer, where Cucu (our local assistant) and her grandfather showed us around. Cucu’s grandfather was the mayor of Vejer for many years so he was especially knowledgable in the history of the town. He told our students about a local tradition that is quite unique. Every four years, the town hall raffles off plots of land. Whichever families win these plots of land, have four years to do whatever they want with them. This tradition began centuries ago when Vejer was being constantly conquered by the Moors and then reconquered by the Christians. Since many people considered it dangerous to live in Vejer, the town began this tradition of raffling off lands to attract people to stay! Up to this day, the tradition continues.

Last night (Monday night) was our last night of cooking class. We made delicious homemade pizza. The chef also surprised the students with a cookbook of the recipes we have made together. Each student will be bringing one home!

Today is our last day of classes and also the last day of surf. We are soaking up every moment of our last week in Conil.

¡Hasta pronto!