Case Study 1
Vacational Studies has helped young people develop in many ways. One young person, let's call him Evan, came to us as rather lacking in confidence. We saw him as a tall, good-looking dark-haired young man who started hesitantly, but engaged with people as the days went by and whom we saw having a great time.
At the end of the Course, he came to and said 'I've never been accepted before. At home people think I'm odd.'
'You seem quite normal to me,' I replied. 'The thing is that, even if you are odd, people here will think it's just you being foreign. You can be as 'different' as you like. No one will notice.'
'So how can I continue having friends at home?'
'By using the courage you have gained this month, telling yourself that people like you here because you're likeable and go home with head high believing it. You managed to convince 150 people you'd never met before that there's nothing wrong with you, so there's nothing wrong with you.'
Some weeks later, Evan's dad wrote to me to say that he had received back a changed son. Evan returned the following summer. We had a brief conversation. All the awkwardness was in the past. He had moved on. We both knew that VacStuds for him was more, far more, than just a month in the summer.
Case Study 2
Miro (not his real name) was great to have at Vacational Studies. He was the first to volunteer for everything. If someone had to have a bucket of water thrown over his head, he was up for it. Dressing up in crazy clothes? He was there. In the club he danced like a dervish. In the dining room, he was always with a different group of friends. He used English all the time and worried not one bit about the odd mistake. He was never without a smile and frequently popped into the office for a chat.
He came back summer after summer and was always the life and soul of the party.
One summer, one of friends from home told me: 'What you don't know is that, at school and at home, Miro is as quiet as a mouse. He's only like this when he's here.'
Another friend from home confirmed that this was true. At VacStuds, Miro simply metamorphosed into someone else.
I never raised it with Miro. He just carried on being his zany self until he became too old for us. There he was, without history and without consequences, being the Miro he wanted to be, but dared not be at home.
Case Study 3
Emily (not her real name) was a lively young girl who blossomed while she was with us. She made many contributions to the video project and was in charge of wardrobe and locations. She bounced around the Course and made friends across international borders. Her level of English improved in leaps and bounds.
She came to us several times. Eventually, I said to her 'You should be a Prefect. You have it in you to be in charge of young people.' She blushed and assured me that was something she couldn't do. 'My English isn't good enough.' she assured me. 'Of course it is. You have a fluency that is near-native and a good accent.' She remained unconvinced. 'I get a 4. Every term. 4 is the second lowest grade at English.'
'And what are they testing you on?' She showed me her latest paper. The testing was on writing and it was clear that she has a specific problem with this. 'And do you have conversations with native-speakers? Like the conversation we are having now and have had for the last few summers?' She shook her head. 'Look, language is for communication and you are communicating brilliantly. You are very bright, will create a business for yourself and employ someone to do the letters. Just do what you're good at. Communicating.'
Emily became a Prefect and eventually an Apprentice. She needed the success she achieved with us and saw how she could be happy using the many skills she had rather than the one skill that caused her problems.