Off to Hawaii in MV Explorer
My present physical position on the map of earth- half way to Hawaii from Ensenada, Mexico, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!
The MV Explorer.
Before I write anything else, I have to write a little about the Semester at Sea (SAS) program. SAS is a semester long academic program for university level students and life-long learners on a ship. University of Virginia is the academic sponsor of this program and Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) is the organization behind this amazing program. Students can take academic classes while traveling around the world, and the credits earned while on the voyage can be easily transferred to their home schools. The Spring 2013 Voyage will be stopping over at 12 countries and 16 cities, spread over 4 continents. The cities we have left behind are San Diego, California and Ensenada, Mexico. The cites we will be sailing to are Hilo, Hawaii; Yokohama and Kobe, Japan; Shanghai and Hong Kong, China; Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam; Singapore; Rangoon, Burma; Cochin, India; Port Louis, Mauritius; Cape Town, South Africa; Takoradi and Tema (Accra) Ghana; Casablanca, Morocco; and last but not the least, Barcelona, Spain. I am fortunate to be the first ever Bangladeshi girl to be a part of the Semester at Sea program and I am looking forward to write about each port and all my experiences on this voyage.
The MV Explorer has left Ensenada- the first port, with 942 passengers on board. We are now sailing towards Hawaii, which will be our first stop. As we sail towards Hawaii, we have had our orientations and classes have commenced. It is hard to balance around the ship, going up and down the stairs, while the ship continues rocking with the wave. There are 7 floors on this ship. There are dorm rooms with all the modern facilities, there is dining arrangement, medical clinic, classrooms, swimming pool, library, computer lab- you name it! It is truly a floating campus. I have been longing to be a part of this program for past 4 years, and finally it is happening. Even though I am onboard the ship, sometimes it does not feel real. I have been studying abroad for past couple of years, but this is something utterly unique. There is no other program, which can give a student the international exposure that this voyage offers.
In the middle of the semester.
One very exciting individual is onboard, that I cannot help but mention is, Noble Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu! He is a long-time supporter of this program and he will be sailing with us till South Africa. I am very much looking forward to this experience as we sail around the world and meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, all the amazing people onboard and not to forget all the people I will be meeting at shore. Keep an eye out for the upcoming issues of Star Campus and read all about my trip around the world! Till then, wish me luck (as I do not know how to swim)!
(The writer is a Bangladeshi student, living in Madrid, Spain majoring in International Relations and Communications and is a Global Changemaker and anti-corruption activist.)