Written by Great Books on Tuesday, December 10, 2019
"Great Books helped advance my analytical thinking and looking at books and stories with a keener eye, noticing details that I might have missed by just reading through it." — Caleb from IL
There is no one type of Great Books' camper. Meet Caleb from Illinois who attended our program for the first time on the campus of Northwestern University last summer. This 10th-grade wonder brings a bit of everything to the table: Academics. Creativity. Talent. And he is a generous volunteer too.
This outstanding student can be found podcasting (the podcast is called Rotohackers) in his spare time with his homeschool teacher, talking about Fantasy Football. Or Caleb may be found indulging his theatrical side taking part in several short productions with his church. In fact, this year he is directing his homeschool group’s production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Caleb also enjoys dabbling in writing book reviews and scripts with his family and friends. His favorite genre are Sci-Fi and Fantasy. His love of books extends to his altruistic endeavors, as well. For the last three years, he has volunteered his time at the local library to help with everything from re-shelving books to crafting projects for different library events.
So when Caleb decided to join the Great Books academic program this past summer you can imagine his surprise and delight as his talents melded perfectly with his chosen theater elective. With 10 years of playing piano under his belt, he was more than ready to step up and lead the way in the avant-garde musical, theater production.
In addition to feeding his creative side, Great Books also helped him hone his analytical reading, critical thinking skills, and renew his self-confidence when meeting new people for the first time. Now hear in his own words how our international learning community was filled with challenging curriculum, arts and literature electives, and fun social activities that made it a summer of a lifetime.
1. How many years have you attended Great Books?
2019 was the first year I had ever attended Great Books.
2. What was your favorite part of Great Books?
I would have to say it is the participation in the variety of events that go on at Great Books. Whether it is just getting to know the people, engaging in meaningful discussion with them about the literature of the week, and playing games during break or the different evening activities, it is always an enjoyable time.
"The advice I would give to potential Great Books students would be to come prepared to learn. Come with an open mind towards discussion and be prepared to not only share your own views, but also to learn about other's views as well."
3. What life lessons did you take away from attending Great Books Summer Program?
Great Books helped with my socialization. While I am normally an extroverted and outgoing person, it had been a while since I had been with a large group of people that I didn't know. Great Books assisted me with getting to know others and being more confident engaging with new people.
4. What skills did you learn at Great Books?
Great Books helped advance my analytical thinking and looking at books and stories with a keener eye, noticing details that I might have missed by just reading through it.
5. What surprised you about Great Books?
I was very surprised by the diversity of topics presented and events that happened at Great Books which provided for a well-rounded experience between learning and fun.
6. What elective did you take part in and what did you take away from it?
For my main elective, I took part in the theater program. Even though I had acted before in plays, I was intrigued by the "avant-garde" way our performance went as I had never done that before. For my literature elective, I chose the Music and Meaning class where I learned about other's music tastes and opinions as well as learning more about my own.
"Whether it is just getting to know the people, engaging in meaningful discussion with them about the literature of the week, and playing games during break or the different evening activities, it is always an enjoyable time."
7. What advice would you give to current or prospective Great Books students on how to get the most out of the program?
The advice I would give to potential Great Books students would be to come prepared to learn. Come with an open mind towards discussion and be prepared to not only share your own views, but also to learn about other's views as well. Also, be sure to be active in the activities, it only makes it better for everyone when people participate.
8. What are some of your favorite Great Books’ memories?
- Playing (and later making a skit about!) Apples to Apples with some of my Great Books friends
- Sitting at Lake Michigan and discussing the literature of the day with others
- Sword dueling in the “Ring of Fire”
- Reading that night’s short stories outside in the Shakespeare gardens
- Just talking to others over meals and walking from place to place
- Playing piano for our theater performance at the end of the week
And those are just the beginning highlights! Honestly, I could list even more things that happened, but those are the ones that first come to mind.
9. Do you plan on returning to Great Books?
Absolutely. I am definitely returning to Great Books again in 2020 without a doubt in my mind.
10. What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite?
"I was very nervous going into this new experience for myself, but I quickly felt at home thanks not only to my fellow peers, but also because of the wonderful coordinators and pod leaders [at Great Books]."
Despite the difficulty of this question, my current favorite book is probably John Flanagan's The Red Fox Clan . This book is the second in The Royal Ranger series and is an absolutely incredible story with a gripping plot line and one of the greatest cliff-hangers I have ever read. My honorable mentions are Timothy Zahn's Thrawn and Kevin Emerson's The Oceans Between Stars.
11. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would just like to give credit to all the leaders and organizers at Great Books. I was very nervous going into this new experience for myself, but I quickly felt at home thanks not only to my fellow peers, but also because of the wonderful coordinators and pod leaders.