Laughter Isn’t Foreign to “The Foreigner”

By Constance Gabel,

While many students take the summer off to enjoy the outdoors or family vacations, LEAP Center students stay engaged during the summer months through activities like the Outdoor Explorer program with the City of Huntsville’s Recreation Department or attending cultural outings such as this weekend’s “The Foreigner” expedition at the UH Theater. Led by Mike Yawn, LEAP students met for an appetizing lunch of South American food at Houston’s own Andes Café.

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Upon arrival, students were excited to meet former Junior Fellows Vice President, Laken Jenkins, graduate of South Texas College of Law. It was a great opportunity to discuss law school and for some, power lifting, with the Sam Houston grad. While considering interesting topics like summer plans and goals for the new school year, students perused the menu consisting of Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Columbian, Chilean, and Argentinian options. Students enjoyed entrees such as Bisteck A Caballo, a steak and egg dish, Pollo a la Brasa, a Peruvian chicken dish, and Lomo Saltado, Peruvian stirfry. It was neat to have a taste of many different countries in such a quaint café residing in Houston’s downtown.

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Finishing our eclectic lunch, we left the café to caravan to the University of Houston, where the Alley Theatre is currently residing to accommodate $46.5 million worth of renovations at their usual home. We were excited to meet the mayor of Huntsville, Mac Woodward, and his wife, Leanne Woodward at the theater, where they joined us to watch the play.

The play was written by Larry Shue, who interestingly enough died in a plane crash while adapting the play for the screen. “The Foreigner” was about a socially anxious Brit visiting a hunting lodge in Georgia with his comrade.  In the company of strangers–each with their own backstory–this timid, doormat of a man comes into his own, transforming into an avid story-telling, English-learning, secret-keeping confidant of the lodge’s residents.  It was hilarious!

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The play ended to a standing ovation, and we left the theater to converse about our favorite parts and laugh about the amusing accents. We took a picture to commemorate such a fun afternoon with the Woodwards and Ms. Jenkins and bid adieu to the University of Houston and each other while going our separate ways until next week, as some LEAP students look forward to a trip to Savannah, Georgia.

LEAP Center Students Splash Into Summer at State Park

It was the first day of summer, and it was a fun one.  Making the most of the City of Huntsville’s “Outdoor Explorer Program,” the LEAP Center students ventured to the Huntsville State Park, for a day of hiking, biking, kayaking, and grilling.

Most of us had never been to the State Park, and most of had never had any meaningful experience kayaking.  So that made it all the more fun when we started the day off with kayak training–and then launching into the water!

Bella surprised everyone with her quick launch and her mastery of kayaking.  She also had a go-pro camera, which she used to record almost everything…

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Following Bella’s lead, others soon got into the act.

Megan and Kaitlyn Launching
                                                        Megan and Kaitlyn Launching

Soon, we were scurrying all over the lake, enjoying the sun, relaxation, and exercise.

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Austin, the  most athletic of us, looked  like a natural kayaker…

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The “look,” however, was short lived.  Following a loss of balance, Austin found himself tasting some lake water…

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…and while he may have lost his balance, he didn’t lose his shades….

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…getting back on, however, was another matter.  This maneuver requires help, strength, and balance.

Austin Climbs Back On, While Bella Photographs Helpfully
                            Austin Climbs Back On, While Bella Photographs Helpfully

…While this particular attempt was not successful…

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                                               Austin Slips Off, While Bella Laughs Helpfully

..He eventually regained his form and was able to enjoy the rest of the day.

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Following a bit more exploration of the lake, we called it a morning–at least as far as kayaking was concerned.

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But that didn’t mean the day was over.  The bulk of us went for a three-mile hike, while Constance, Megan, and Stephanie sneaked back to the lake for more kayaking.

We hiked the north-west side of the lake.  It was a particularly pretty trail.

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The trails in the State Park are well marked, clear, and roomy.  It’s great for those who enjoy nature, birding (250 species of bird in the park), and hiking.  In fact, there are 129 miles of hiking trails.

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At the northernmost end of the lake, it gets very marshy, and you actually walk across a wooden platform for about 70 yards.

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Afterward, we headed back to “camp,” and we picnicked on hot dogs, chips, cole slaw, and s’mores.

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At the end of the day, we headed our separate ways, returning to our homes to prepare for Father’s Day.

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The LEAP Center students thank the City of Huntsville and, particularly, Natalie Reid, for the Outdoor Explorer program and the fun the program brings to the community!