Discovering the Tropics: A Middle School Travel Study Program in St. John, USVI – Day 1: Tuesday, March 21
As we made maps to trace our journey from Boston to Atlanta and over the backbone of St. Thomas, we knew we were in for an adventure. We boarded the Redhook ferry, crossed rolling water with whitecaps waving at us all the way to Cruz Bay on St. John, and wound our way through switch-backing mountain roads to our final destination, Cinnamon Bay campground. But the true distance we covered today was even more incredible than we expected, and our long day left us feeling the tropical heat and basking in brilliant sunlight. Leaving cold Massachusetts behind was easy, and we’d been looking forward to this moment for weeks. Our journey was more than just a physical one; it was an educational travel experience that allowed us to explore different cultures and immerse ourselves in new environments.
“I buzz with excitement as I wait to start painting creatures, plants, and places flowing from my mind and onto the paper, the bright saturated colors warping and mixing as I go. By the end of our tropic adventure, I will go home with the essence of St. John tucked in my backpack in a sketchbook.” – condensed from Aine’s journal
“After nine years of waiting, imagery floods my mind of Kindergarten me patiently listening to the 6-8’s experiences and memories made together and wondering, ‘When will it be my turn?’ Colored pencil portraits of VI marine life are seemingly jumping off my journal pages and into the water right before my eyes. I have a head full of knowledge from my research and a heart bubbling with anticipation. I feel more ready than ever to immerse myself in everything the VI has to offer.” – condensed from Alice’s journal
“One clue after another, we get closer to finding our study trip destination. Finally, we guess St. John and, to our surprise, it’s confirmed. Instantly I am taken to a beach surrounded by stunning blue water with palm trees rustling in the wind mixed with the rhythmic crashing of waves creating soothing music on the shoreline.” – condensed from Arlo’s journal
“It’s going to be very enjoyable to be somewhere I have never been before. Snorkeling causes me to be scared of St. John’s wavy, blue ocean because I feel like the deep blue water will swallow me even though I have a life jacket on. This is going to be so exciting because it will introduce me to new things. I feel like I am going to explode.” – condensed from Aiden’s journal
“The adventures I might find in the Virgin Islands are unimaginable. Snorkeling excites me and as I see a sea turtle swim by me, I imagine that I’m touching its shell.” – condensed from Eziah’s journal
“I assure myself my soul will be filled soon with St. John’s salty trade winds blowing wonder into my mind. I imagine splashing and flapping with flamboyant fish, encircled in their lively dance, a part of the Caribbean expanse.” – condensed from Karina D’s journal
“I’m incredibly excited for this trip. It will be a whole new tropical experience; the views, refreshing trade winds, and a variety of small critters. Snorkeling will also be new. I’ve never been snorkeling before and I’m kind of nervous. Fish are a little bit scary and I’ve only seen them from a distance. However, I am still excited for the trip. I made a lot of good memories last year, and I know there will be more memories that I make this year. – from Karina PZ’s journal
“As the plane bounces up and down, I can feel my anticipation building up. I envision myself snorkeling in the crystal blue water of the VI, seeing the vibrant fish and plentiful corals, but something else tugs at my brain. The scene shifts to the great house. From the hill the view is magnificent. I want to stare at it all day. With a sudden jolt, I am shattered back to the plane. Now, just like the plane, I am bouncing up and down in my seat. I cannot wait.” – condensed from Max’s journal
“I’m feeling pretty worried about going to St. John because I never went on a plane before. I’m so pumped to see all the colorful fish and birds, just watching the sunset, and writing about what I learned.” – condensed from Alfie’s journal
“My eyebrows raise, my lips grin with a giggly insecure feeling inside. I get to fly to tropical St. John. In my head I envision the smell of the beach, so salty, so exhilarating to dive in and enjoy the academic water experience. A proud feeling washes through my body as these patterned creatures prove my research correct, or maybe they’ll teach me I was wrong.” – condensed from Audrey’s journal
“Existing in the moment, I’ll notice the sound first, the sound of birds chirping and the ever warm water crawling onto the sand. A cool breeze flows against my face, whistling in my ears and through my ocean-curled hair. There’s so much more room for this island to grow in the garden that is my mind. It will be ever so rewarding to go.” – condensed from Fiona’s journal
“At the very thought of St. John’s rich and immersive history and ecosystem, I am filled with wonder. I can’t wait to see in person what I have spent so long researching, the sugar mill, coral, and animals alike. It is always terrifying to think about being away from home, but it is easily outweighed by my anticipation for the experiences to comes.” – condensed from Liam’s journal
Let the adventures begin!