Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Welcome Home

Yesterday, the Fall 2009 Voyage officially came to a close. The students said their final farewells to friends and mentors, and unloaded literally tons of luggage and souvenirs off the ship. Above is a short video taken from disembarkment. It can also be found on the Semester at Sea website here.

The Spring 2010 voyage of Semester at Sea will begin January 17. To find out more about the upcoming voyage, or to apply to SAS, please visit the official website.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cool Class: Documentary Film Pt. 2

This is another very interesting documentary film done by one of the Semester at Sea students. All of the films were created with the guidance of Paul Wagner. To check out some of his films, go to the SAS Youtube channel here.

Diversity Scholars: Final Projects

The entire semester, the Diversity Scholars have been working on projects all semester about various aspects of diversity that intrigued them. Using the world as their laboratory, each one of these students developed a thesis, and supported it, not only through the scholarly research required in most undergraduate studies, but also with real-life interactions and experiences. The projects use a variety of media including video, text, pictures and performance.
Two students have agreed to share their projects, not only with the rest of the shipboard community, but also the extended community of those that read the blog. The first project below was submitted by Jennifer Carcamo, who is also one of the official student bloggers. Her project combined text and pictures, and a short excerpt from her introduction has been included below. The second project is a wonderful video about how the voyage is enhanced by the presence of the Life Long Learners. It was created by Terrance Smith.

Minorities of the World: Chronicles of a Youth’s Perspective

My goal upon embarking on this voyage through Semester at Sea was to learn as much as possible and to interpret what I learned so that eventually I could share my experience with everyone back home. When I get home I want my cousins, my siblings, my friends, my family, and my community to feel as if they were on this voyage seeing, hearing, and experiencing everything with me. I am committed to my family and community back home enough to want to make this trip as much theirs as it is mine.

Needless to say, what I did not expect to change on this trip was my motives for wanting to tell my family about the world. Initially, it was because I wanted them to be aware and conscious about what is going on in the world. This is now only partially my motive for wanting to share my experience. In the process of trying to understand the world, I actually got to know the people from the communities we visited and came to the awkward realization that my commitment to my community no longer extended to just my family. Rather, my community now encompassed every individual I had ever met on this journey plus their community. This implies that my commitment now extends to the populations of Spain, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Vietnam, China, and Japan.

What I wanted was insight into the world, and what I got was a new found commitment to the world at large that I did not foresee as a part of my journey. What I internalized turned out to be so much greater than I had expected. I am a minority back home (and in the world) and I have made it my obligation as such to make sure that I represent not just my family, but everyone who also lacks representation around the world—because that is what diversity means: tolerance and representation of and for other peoples.

The stories I wish to share are those stories depicting the lives of our world’s young people who, as I have come to realize, make up the most “disadvantaged” group in each country. The world’s youth is left with the responsibility of providing for our world’s future and, in this time of rapid change, nothing is really secure. The way young people perceive themselves in this world varies per country from negative to positive, yet overall our generation continues to move forward with hope instead of wringing its hands in resignation. This hopeful inclination is more important than ever as my generation readies itself to lead a world that is changing faster than we can comprehend.
--Jennifer Carcamo, Fall 2009

Waves of Wisdom

To find out more about all of this semester's Diversity Scholars or to learn more about applying for the scholarship, click here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hula Workshop!!

Hawaii is a special port for several reasons. It is the first time the students have set foot on American soil in at least three months. It is also a warm and sunny port after several ports of chilly winter weather (everyone remembers the snow in Japan!), which was quite a treat for the entire community. While there might be the temptation to find one of the many sandy beaches and camp out for a few day, the SASers were sure to explore this port as thoroughly as all of the others. They visited the Arizona battleship, snorkeled, skydived, ascended Mauna Kea and explored the observatory. They also learned to hula!
A small group set out on the short trip from the ship to the studio in Wakiki, where a hula instructor, Germaine, gave them a brief overview of hula, and then taught them a short dance complete when some basic hula movements.
The first thing the group learned is that there are two types of hula: traditional and modern. Traditional, or Hula kahiko, is performed to chanting with percussion instruments to keep time. This form of hula is more rigid and has a distinctly spiritual feel to it. The modern form is called hula auana, and it is a more relaxed dance accompanied by guitars, ukuleles and singing. The dance the group learned was performed to a Hawaiian Christmas carol that had a slow enough tempo for everyone to keep up.
All of the students on the trip commented on how hula is more difficult than it appears to be. In hula, there is an emphasis on fluidity and grace, so even when the dancers are moving very quickly their easy smiles and light hands create the impression of ease. The group soon found out that hula is hard work! The entire dance must performed while in a semi-squat (making it a good workout). Also, the best hula dancers focus on perfecting even the most minute details of their performance, from maintaining a bright smile to moving your hands correctly. "You'll work your entire life on your 'hula hands,'" Germaine told the group. The hand movements tell a story, so it's no surprise that the end of the class was spent trying to mimic the motions precisely.
The final lesson of the day was the "Aloha" welcome. This is a series of hula movements meant to welcome guests and make them feel at home. It was the perfect way to wrap up the lesson. Afterwards, the group had enough time to sneak down to the beach to watch the sunset. Nani!

Cool Class: Documentary Film Pt. 1

One of the most popular classes on the ship is the Documentary Film class, which is taught by the ship's videographer and Academy Award winner Paul Wagner. The students must turn in three short films throughout the semester, and they recently shared their latest films with the shipboard community. Below is the latest work from Marcus Jamison, a sophomore from Stanford University. The film is called Kobe Homestay, and it discusses a SAS experience that has become very important to him.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Celebrate Service

Service and Semester at Sea go hand-in-hand. For the historic 100th voyage, SAS focused on the $100 Solution. This service-learning project was headed up by Dr. Bernie Strenecky along with the help of Dr. Bridget LeLoup. They led a group of students in a series of service projects that sought to create noticeable change with $100. In Ghana, $100 bought and installed ceiling fans in an elementary school. In Vietnam, the money bought bunk beds for a children's orphanage.All total, the Fall 2009 voyage devoted 6,320 hours of service. According to UN calculations, the students contributed $316,000 in service.
"This is going to be the ship that carries hope," Strenecky said. "When the ship shows up, people with get excited. They'll say, 'This ship carries people who care.'"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Itinerary Change Clarification

The Fall 2009 voyage has been remarkably smooth, but recently some small changes were made to the remaining itinerary to ensure the safety of everyone participating in this wonderful journey. On the original schedule, the MV Explorer was to leave Hilo on Dec. 7, and spend six days at sea before arriving in San Diego on the 14th. However, due to expected storms in the waters near the ship's original path, the captain, ISE and the deans came to the decision to avoid the storm all together by returning to Honolulu for an additional day before returning. This way the ship and its passengers were not in any danger, and remain safe during finals prep. Right now, all of the students are back on board safe a "gift day" in Honolulu. While the ship is not expected to leave the port in Honolulu before noon on Dec. 9, the students will not be let off the ship due to the first day of final exams. The delay in leaving Hawaii is not expected to affect the ship's arrival date or time into San Diego. Please follow the Fall 2009 voyage on Twitter and Facebook for additional updates.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Featured Explore Seminar: Discussion on Diversity

It is rare to see a forum on race and diversity as open and honest as the one that took place recently on the ship. A group of 30-40 students, staff and Life-Long Learners were led by Professor Nancy Hurrelbrinck in what was scheduled to be a one-hour discussion.
Professor Hurrelbrinck said that instead of debating about whether or not racism still exists or another equally complicated and volatile subject, she just wanted to provide a safe space for students to ask questions and learn more about people with backgrounds different from their own. The group tackled a number of difficult subjects, including why diversity is important, why cultural differences exist and how they enrich society and why it is necessary for people to check the assumptions they make about others based on their race, religion, gender and/or sexual orientation. Many of the students shared personal experiences from home and SAS. Many talked about how being in a diverse community like SAS has helped make them more open to different perspectives, and visiting so many countries has made them more aware of the world outside of their home country.
The discussion on how the voyage has affected many of the students' outlook on diversity was, perhaps, one of the most interesting subjects that the group pursued. Some students opened up about how it felt to be in the minority in most of the countries the ship visited. They also talked about what it was like trying to navigate a country in which they did not speak the native language. Some of their experiences were frustrating and difficult, but they learned from these as much as the ones that filled them with awe or warmed their hearts.
The dialogue was carried with a level of respect befitting the intellectual environment that has been carefully cultivated on board. People managed their disagreements with maturity, and by the end of the discussion no one seemed afraid to offer their opinion or ask a question.
The dialogue was so productive, it had to be moved to an empty classroom after the 60 minutes set aside for Explorer Seminars elapsed. The new room, an offshoot from the smaller dining room on the ship's sixth deck, had standing room only as the conversation continued for an additional hour. What was most encouraging to the faculty and staff present was that when the forum was officially dismissed, many of the students continued their discussions in smaller, informal groups.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Going once... going twice... sold!

One of the traditions that happens every voyage on Semester at Sea is the auction to benefit the Annual Fund endowment. The endowment is used mainly to provide students with financial assistance through scholarships, but it is also used to support student clubs, class projects, field experiences and other things that make each voyage complete. Items are donated, and then bid on by the entire shipboard community. Since this is the 100th Voyage, the goal is 100 percent participation, whether it comes through bidding or a small donation. Also, a large number of community members were donors; over 124 people donated things to be auctioned.
Despite the fact that the Fall 2009 has roughly 200 less students than most other voyages, the results of the auction, which was split into silent and live portions, were very impressive. The silent auction, which offered everything from candy baskets to homestays in Colorado, raised $12,006. The live auction, which offer 25 different items, raised $21,515 for the endowment. Below is a list of some of the items auctioned, and their final price. It really shows the generosity of this community, both in donated these wonderful items, and in bidding on them. To make a donation, please go to semesteratsea.org/give.

  • Dress up as the Captain of the MV Explorer: $50
  • Paris 6 night Homestay: $1900
  • Two tickets to the Kentucky Derby, and Weekend Homestay: $725
  • Dr. Dave's Bedtime Stories: $175
  • Duke University Basketball Package: $900