Blogs

A Summer Like No Other – Rhea Reflects

Rhea R. traveled last year to attend Summerfuel’s Pre-College Campus Experience program at Tufts University in Boston. Each year, Summerfuel students are impacted by their experiences at different universities across the U.S and around the globe. From making new lifelong friendships, to gaining invaluable insight into college life, there are so many things to take away from time with Summerfuel.

Here is what Rhea had to say about her experience:

“I attended Summerfuel’s second session Pre-College program at Tufts University and it was the most amazing two weeks of my life! I learned so much and made amazing friends that I’m still in contact with almost every day.

The teachers were great and really cared about students, the trips to Boston were a blast, and the RAs/staff were very helpful, whether they helped me learn more about what college was like by sharing their own experiences, or simply with anything I needed help with.

The Summerfuel PC program is a great program if you’re looking to get a glimpse of college like I was.  You get to live in a dorm, meet new people, and experience new things. I have attended similar programs in the past, but none of them compare to Summerfuel’s. They really care about each and every student, and want you to have the best experience possible….I look forward to attending next year!”

-Rhea R., US Virgin Islands

 

How to Destress During a Busy School Year

We all know that life can get stressful, especially during a busy school year. With extracurriculars, homework, midterms and finals, and maybe even college applications, there is no shortage of factors to add to the stress. It is so important to make sure that you take the time to unwind and relax. If you want to keep doing your best, getting those grades, and achieving your goals, staying focused and calm is key. Here are a few of our favorite ways to destress:

Indulge in your favorite food

When you are swamped with school work and busy studying for those exams, it is important to take time to sit down and have a meal away from the computer screen or text books. Enjoy tasting each bite of food, and take this time to give your brain a rest. Don’t be afraid to indulge in your favorite treat, but keep in mind that a balanced, healthy meal will leave you feeling most relaxed and ready to focus.

Take a study break and go for a walk

Sometimes a walk out in nature is all you need to decompress and give your mind and body that necessary recharge. Take in the sights, feel the breeze, breathe the fresh air – it doesn’t always need to be hard core exercise in order to do some good.

Watch your favorite TV show or movie

Taking some time to relax with a good flick is a great opportunity to give your brain the break it needs. Whether you like drama, thrillers, or comedy, an entertaining tv show or movie can provide a lovely escape from reality and set you up to get back to work with full concentration.

Hit the gym or take a yoga class

Beat that stress one push-up at a time! Exercise releases those feel-good endorphins that can help you clear your head and improve mood. Whether you lift weights, go for a run, do some yoga, or however else you like to get moving, exercise is not only good for your physical health, but your mental health as well.

Spend quality time with family and friends

What better way to give yourself the energy and confidence you need to tackle the work that lies ahead, than by spending quality time with your loved ones? Good relationships are a major part of a healthy lifestyle, and sometimes your friends and family can give you the boost you need to overcome challenges.

 

Happy Halloween from Summerfuel!

Trick or treat! Did you know that one quarter of the candy sold in the United States each year is purchased for Halloween? That’s a lot of candy. Certainly, there is much more to this fun holiday than we typically think of.

Centuries ago in what is now known as Ireland, the UK, and northern France, the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain was celebrated. People lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts, and this tradition eventually became what we call Halloween. Undoubtedly, the holiday has evolved throughout time, meshing all sorts of different beliefs and customs. Celebrations of the harvest, fortune-telling, ghost-stories, and mischief-making of all kinds became popular. Americans dressed in costumes, going house to house asking for food or money, which borrows Irish and English traditions. This eventually became the practice of “trick-or-treating” that so many kids enjoy today.

For many, Halloween is the chance to dress up as your favorite superhero, don that crazy outfit you wouldn’t normally wear, or paint your face with vibrant makeup. For others, Halloween is an opportunity to get a good fright at a haunted house, carve jack-o-lanterns, and indulge in another sweet treat. With parades, parties, and an entire season dedicated to this spooky holiday, there is no shortage of Halloween fun. Summerfuel wishes a Happy Halloween to all those that are celebrating!

Summerfuel Sparks a Passion – Lexi Reflects

Every summer, students from around the world are united at different Summerfuel programs. People from Germany become best friends with others in Texas – the connections made are truly incredible. Not only are students meeting peers they normally would never get to encounter, but they discover subjects they never knew they loved.

Lexi attended Summerfuel’s UMASS 2016 Program, which has since moved to Tufts University. Take a look at her story:

 

“Running filled with laughter and adrenaline. We had just stepped out of our Psychology Class which meant the ‘Elimination’ Tag game began. I made it past the building with few twists and turns where I made it to safety. This was an extraordinarily exciting game which took place throughout the entire 2 weeks. The counselors had organized this game and even took part in it. You met so many people because of it and it was always a great conversation starter. Here we were in UMASS; so many different nationalities together in the same camp. 

This was also the camp which sparked my passion for psychology. Today is the day that I sent off my college applications to apply as a Psych major! My teachers were brilliant and made every lesson exciting. It did not feel like an obligation or school work – it felt like free time. After this camp, I signed up for psychology classes and carried out work experience in this field. Not only did the psychology class help at this camp but also the SAT course which pushed up my grade by almost 200 points!

The people I met in these 2 weeks were super friendly and outgoing. I instantly made friends who I still talk to today, even though it was 2 years ago. I have even managed to meet up with a few of them! My roommate and I met in UMASS and were able to celebrate our birthdays together. Now we always think of each other even though we celebrate halfway across the world. I celebrate in Germany and she in Texas; these are our homes. 

This was an experience I will never forget. Thank you Summerfuel!”

Lexi, 17

Düsseldorf, Germany

What I Gained from Studying Abroad – A Summerfuel Staff Member Reflects

One of the greatest opportunities that Summerfuel offers students is the chance to “study abroad”. With programs all around the globe, students can travel internationally to learn, play, and, ultimately, change their lives. Although I didn’t have the chance to study abroad during high school, I did have an opportunity in college. I can say that it truly changed my life in an incredible way.

My Time in Peru

Born and raised in the USA, I felt lucky to get the chance to study abroad in Peru. Of course, I was nervous to travel away from all of my friends, family, and comforts of home. Little did I know that this would become the most priceless and transformative experience I would ever have. I traveled to various cities throughout Peru, lived in the jungle, witnessed the beauty of Macchu Picchu and more, all while studying Applied Anthropology and Arts & Crafts of South America.

Not only did I get to see sights I never would have seen otherwise, taste foods we certainly do not have in New Jersey (like alpaca and guinea pig!), and learn so many details of the Peruvian culture, but I also met the person that would become my very best friend to this day. I learned that there is a very big world out there and a whole other way of life, which helped put things in perspective for me; I discovered how to be independent and put myself out there; and learned to be brave. I am forever grateful for my experience abroad, and truly believe that anyone who has such an invaluable opportunity should take full advantage.

-Jayne W., Associate Director at Summerfuel

ART NOW: $1.4 Million Banksy Painting Self-Destructs

In the exciting wake of Summerfuel’s first ever Art Now program in partnership with Christie’s in New York City, it is only fitting that we talk about the incredible Banksy stunt that occurred just a few days ago. Whether you attended the inaugural year of the Art Now program and learned about the artist, Banksy, firsthand there, or you already know who he is, this stunt was one for the ages.

The British street artist created the renowned spray paint on canvas work, entitled “Girl With Balloon”, which sold for $1.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction last week. As soon as the hammer went down, the painting seemed to self-destruct, falling through the frame in shredded pieces! Soon after, Banksy took to social media admitting to his prank and showing a video of a shredder being built into the back of the frame. This was quite an unprecedented happening, leaving onlookers in a state of shock and awe – they were having a true Banksy experience.

This stunt raises so many questions – did Sotheby’s know that this was going to happen? Has the value of the work gone down? Or, perhaps, the value has gone UP? What will be the next steps for the buyer of the work that just spent $1.4 million? Maybe the fact that we have so many questions and are buzzing about the prank, is exactly the point that Banksy was trying to make in the first place.

What do you think? Art Now alumni, art buffs around the world, and those who are just hearing about Banksy for the first time – tell us your thoughts on this piece of auction history!

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Summerfuel Scholars

Each year, Summerfuel is dedicated to making the summer of a lifetime possible for an accomplished and diverse group of students through our Summerfuel Scholars program. Partial-tuition scholarships are awarded to motivated students from across the United States, providing exciting opportunities to learn and grow. From classes and excursions to experiencing college-life and meeting friends from around the world, there are so many things to gain from a Summerfuel program.

A recent Summerfuel Scholar who attended the Pre-College program at Tufts University had some great things to share with us about her summer experience:

“While my classes were informative as well as enjoyable, the best part of my whole experience was the friends I made. Even though I spent only two weeks at Tufts, I formed friendships that I believe will last a very long time. I cannot express my happiness enough because the friends I made during the summer mean so much to me now.

Now I have friends from France, Turkey, Italy, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Egypt, Lebanon, and Spain, as well as a few more friends from America. I learned about their different cultures, including what music was popular and what foods were the best to eat, and I bonded over similar experiences we had, even though we come from different parts of the world.

When we had to say good-bye, we were all filled with sadness because we did not want to leave each other and we feared we would never see each other again. However, I still talk to the friends I made, and through social media, I am able to keep in contact with my international friends.

Being a part of Summerfuel allowed me to further my knowledge in medical research and genetics. It also allowed me to form some unbreakable friendships. Summerfuel gave me experiences and friends I would have never made anywhere else, and it also gave me a sneak peek into what my life as a college student would be like. All I can say is that if I had the opportunity to do it again, I would. This past summer was probably one of the best summers of my life because of the friends I made at Summerfuel. I will never forget my experience.”

 -Clare Taylor-Winters, Pre-College Tufts University, 2018

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!