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.