Guest blog post by Science Educator Emily Buckner
Most people don’t particularly enjoy doing the dishes; prune-y fingers, weird smelling sponges, clogged drains, etc. On top of all that, they are one of those tasks that seem like as soon as you have cleaned up one meal’s the next start to accrue! Because of these commonly shared sentiments we understand that students may do this task a bit grudgingly, and yet it is something that everyone who spends time on this island is asked to do. Why? It certainly would be more efficient for several staff members well into the groove of the season to do it consistently, and it would give a little more time for students to participate in other programs, not to mention alleviate an already tired instructor of explaining the suds, rinse, sanitize, and dry system for the 50th time. And yet, we’ve decided it’s worth it.
One group of fun-loving middle schoolers visiting last week from Dorchester, MA proved once again that asking students to participate in such an everyday task should absolutely be a part of our program. While starting off with the usual level of resistance, the Epiphany students quickly figured out how to be having more fun than anyone else on the island, putting on some pop radio and throwing an impromptu dance party and sing-a-long in the dish pit. We had only asked for 5-6 students to do the task but the rest of their classmates joined in the fun, showing their support by keeping the energy upbeat and positive. Their smiles and laughter were infectious and had everyone else on the island (2 other high-school groups and staff) feeling happy and singing along to Justin Bieber. It was the epitome of what building community can look like here on Hurricane: sharing the responsibilities of necessary tasks, working together, supporting one another, and bringing up everyone on the island. So why have students help with the dishes? Because it transforms them from being mere visitors to engaged island community members, learning what it means to be relied on and to be appreciative for the work of others (not to mention a useful life skill!). Plus it might even turn out to be one of the highlights of their experience.