Twice a week we have community engagement activities in addition to our classes and research. This past week during community engagement, another student and I went into the fifth grade classroom to make “recycled fish”.

We wrapped toilet paper rolls in different magazine pictures, the kids made sharks, jellyfish, and barracudas. They honestly didn’t care what they made, they just wanted to show us, ask us questions, and get to know the big kids from The School for Field Studies. At the end of our visit, the teacher came up to us and said, “Thank you, thank you so much. You have no idea how amazing this is for us.” We were confused, because all we did was make toilet paper roll fish, and she was talking like we saved her life.

On our walk back, we realized we did, in a small way. We gave her 30 minutes where these incredibly active kids weren’t in her charge, and she could breathe again. We learned that this teacher has children in the school, and her daughters love it when they get to see us; and her son comes up to the Center twice week for Snorkel Club. It’s something that seems so small, 45 minutes doing a craft or helping a PE class, but it means the world to them, and that ends up being all that matters.

It is so hard to believe that we have been here for three weeks already. Sometimes it feels like we got off the plane yesterday, and we’re seeing the view of the sunset over the water for the first time again. Other times, it feels like I’ve known the other students here forever; it hasn’t just been 3 weeks, it’s been a whole lifetime.