The BAFF group has been very busy this past week preparing for our final reception for our guests from CIEE on Wednesday evening. The students were divided into various groups, each in charge of planning a different part of the reception, including music, food, and entertainment. Despite these preparations, they have still managed to have a lot of fun! Our final three participant activities this week involved the students participating in a karaoke competition and scavenger hunts around the campus. We got a lot of exercise!
On Saturday night, the BAFF students spent some time in the kitchen together, with a “make – your – own pizza” night.
This was followed by a very successful talent show with some improv performances that got everyone laughing.
One of the activities our Baltic teens have participated in recently is parkour.
Parkour is a type of “free running” with the goal being to move from one point to another as fast and as efficiently as possible. The students did a great job, jumping up stairs, climbing trees, and balancing on rails. By the end of the 2-hour session, we all had a few cuts and scrapes, but to the delight of the staff, no one was injured. It was a fun and unusual type of challenge for the students, and they all did a great job!
The students groups are gaining practice in leading their peers, and they are coming up with very creative activity ideas, including a “world cafe” discussion.
The first full week of BAFF brought much learning and exploration in and around Boston.
This week, participants had several chances to immerse themselves in local culture and history, starting with a tour of the Massachusetts State House as well as an abbreviated walk on the Freedom Trail lead by OHSP Educator Josh Mocle. During this time, the group was able to make many different connections between the founding of the United States and the liberation of their own homes in the Baltics, despite these events happening nearly 200 years apart.
The group was then able to explore the historic Harvard University and learn more about not only the American educational system, but what life is like for university students in this country, even those that come here from outside the country to attend university. It caused many of them to think openly about their future and to state developing plans for when they complete high school.
Finally, participants explored Brandeis’s home town of Waltham, MA with an afternoon on Moody Street. Walking up and down the street and taking in many of the multicultural sites (and cuisine!), the group was able to develop a deep understanding of how blended and integrated many parts of our country are and began to see the value in stretching out of their comfort zone and trying something from outside of their own culture and background.
Despite the wet weather on Thursday and Friday, the BAFF Summer Leadership Conference is off to a great start!
Sponsored by the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation, this conference welcomes 19 outstanding teens from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for four weeks of leadership training.
Despite Hurricane Arthur dumping rain on their heads, they set out to explore campus, to get to know each other and their staff through fun ice breakers, and to have their first Leadership Academy Session.
The following day, they got to celebrate the Fourth of July at the Newton Community Fourth of July Carnival on the Albermarle Fields, where they tried delicious treats like elephant ears and caramel apples for the first time.
The teens played a rousing US/Baltic soccer game with some local teens, and then spent an extra hour in their Leadership Academy Session sharing funny stories with each other.
So far, the group is adapting wonderfully and are a pleasure to work with!