Just hours before leaving South Africa, the Fall 2013 voyage’s shipboard community received a special guest speaker: Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Long a friend, and staunch supporter, of Semester at Sea, the Archbishop, his wife, Leah, and some of his family members, visited the MV Explorer to speak to voyage participants as well as the parents of some students who joined the ship for a four-day Parent-Student trip in South Africa.
Archbishop Tutu is revered for his work in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. His efforts and dedication earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. After the fall of the apartheid institution, the Archbishop served as chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And in 2007, he received the International Gandhi Peace Prize.
Before addressing the standing-room-only crowd in the ship’s Union, the Archbishop spoke briefly to the Fall 2013 voyage’s faculty, staff and lifelong learners in the Glazer Faculty-Staff Lounge. He reminded the adults of the promise that young people hold for the future of the world and urged them to encourage the students’ idealism rather than to inflict “the cynicism of the oldies” upon them. He also marveled at the work that students do, on every voyage on which he has sailed, to help make the world a better place.
“It’s wonderful to have been young, but they say it tends to be wasted on youth, but I’ve found that not to be true,” he said. “All the voyages we’ve been on, I see how incredibly idealistic they are. Almost all believe the world can be a better place.”
The Archbishop told the adults to “dream of a world where poverty is history, where war is no more. We know that a tiny fraction of us can ensure that children have clean water. We know we can do it,” he told them.
Archbishop Tutu and his wife have sailed on the entire Spring 2007 and Fall 201 SAS voyages and on the first major leg of the Spring 2013 voyage (from San Diego, CA to Cape Town). They have also visited the ship in Cape Town on numerous occasions. The Desmond Tutu Distinguished Chair in Global Understanding was established in his honor to promote global awareness and intercultural understanding.
Upon his arrival in the Union, the Archbishop was met with unbridled enthusiasm, cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd of students, many of whom cut their last day in Cape Town short to rush back to the ship for a glimpse of the Archbishop and to hear him speak.
Photos by SAS Fall 2013 Photographer Bryan Koop