This past week, we said ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Aloha’ to our graduating students in the Internship and Surfers Leadership School.
The summer internship was composed of five students representing five different nations: Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia and The USA. It was the one of the most internationally diverse internships yet! The interns accomplished a lot over the past three months: book reports, essays, working with our Ulu Pono kids program, teaching surf and swim to at-risk youth and feeding hundreds of people each week. Topping all that off, was a 10 day outreach to the Big Island!
Surfers Leadership School also graduated five full-time students and two part-time students this week.
The SLSers completed three months of leadership training, which included apprenticing in an STN department, leading activity days, teaching leadership principles, book reports, a final project, and of course, their Big Adventure trip to the Big Island where they lived off the land for a week!
Our part-time students, Jonas and Ann-Sofie, from Sweden, made the leap and moved their whole family to Hawaii to work with STN! They participated in the SLS assignments while still balancing their family and work life.
Now with the three months of SLS behind them, these students are stepping into full time staff positions at STN.
We are so stoked to have new members in our Ohana and an amazing crew of new staff members!
This past week was a busy and bittersweet one, as we said our congratulations and goodbyes to some of our Ohana. This week was the graduation of our 10 Surfers Leadership School students and our twenty-nine interns. It was an exciting time for the students to reflect back on the three months of their time in Hawaii and celebrate their accomplishments. For the interns, that meant reading books, passing tests, and working hard in several different departments at STN, including Waianae surf and swim and Feeding the Hungry. Many of them are going back to different corners of the world: Sweden, Canada and all over the United States. The SLS students celebrated the completion of their leadership training and apprenticeships (not to mention their Big Adventure!) and they are pressing on in their full time staff positions for the remainder of the year.
We are so thankful for the interns and staff that have chosen to come to STN. You guys are what make us run and what makes this Ohana incredible.Thanks for giving back!
Hundreds of people all over the globe have gone through the Surfing The Nations Internship program. Most of them are surprised upon arrival to see they’re living on an urban street notorious for its high crime activity. The internship is full of experiences in the ocean and nature of Hawaii, but the heart of the internship is to grow in character, learn to live beyond yourself, and bring positive change to people and communities in need; whether that’s through teaching surfing, skating, or simply handing out food.
Surfing The Nations had the privilege of welcoming Leah Jefferson (far right in photo) from Birmingham, England to the internship this past September. While here, she brought her own fun, artistic flavor to our community. She is currently back in England running her vintage shop Bellows Vintage. Leah took a few moments to write about her experience in the internship.
‘I come from a small town in the middle of England. Prior to coming to Surfing The Nations, I had dropped out of university and spent a few years years drifting through different jobs. I had a difficult time trying to find my way and decided to do something I’d always dreamt of: set up my own vintage company. Alongside this, I started working as a sales associate for a high fashion label. Whilst working there, I didn’t have as much time to focus on my company. I saw myself losing the vision of an exciting future and starting to worry about getting stuck in, as my friend put it ,‘the graduate graveyard/silver bubble of doom’(if you’ve been to or seen the Bullring in Birmingham, you will understand)! I’ve always loved traveling and started to talk to my friend who was planning on doing a round-the-world trip. I couldn’t save the money in time and thought I’d missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime, but then I heard about Surfing The Nations. I did some research into the organization and found that they had a three month long internship. As I read about it, I started mentally ticking off boxes:. Hawaii? Yes. Surfing? Please. I also found out that my friend from the Netherlands who was studying in England at the time knew someone who had just finished the internship. Through a series of different events I could never have foreseen, I found myself sitting on a plane bound for Hawaii.
Expectations of the internship being a chilled out surf holiday were immediately blown out of the water: We worked hard, serving the community, while still finding ways to play hard. The internship and Surfing The Nations itself is made up of people from all over the world. I love culture and learning about different countries, so I enjoyed living in an apartment full of different nationalities. I definitely had to learn patience every day, as we lived in such close quarters, but I’ve found that the chaos of community living is one of the things I’ve missed the most since I’ve left-that unique community/friendship/OHANA(family)
Aside from the friends I made and the fun living situations, having a tropical island for a playground was not half bad!
Hawaii is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Hiking adventures, surfing (of course), snorkeling, swimming with turtles, idyllic waterfalls, insane sunsets and rainbows. But there is also a side of Hawaii that I was completely unaware of: Poverty, drugs, homelessness, abuse, and prostitution, just to name a few. It was so cool to be part of an organization like Surfing The Nations that is pushing the boundaries, giving back to the local community and keeping things relevant within the surf/skate culture. My experience of being an intern has changed my life. It showed me the importance of being a part of community, loving and helping others in need, accepting who I am and my future dreams and making those happen. I’ve realized life isn’t to be selfishly lived but to be selflessly lived. That is where REAL life is found, and I’m ready to live it.’ -LJ