Realizations and Reflections from the Fall 2013 Voyage

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Andrew Gray
Dec 23, 2013


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Culture, Education, Service

Realizations and Reflections from the Fall 2013 Voyage

Before arriving on the Fall 2013 voyage, Andrew Gray had never seen the ocean, nor had he traveled outside of the U.S. It’s safe to say that he made the most of his time aboard the MV Explorer and with his semester on the Fall 2013 SAS Voyage. (Photos: SAS Voyage Photographer Bryan Koop)

I had been thinking about the end of my Semester at Sea voyage for weeks before it was over. I had thought about how, soon, I would have to say goodbye to some of the best friends I’d made in my life. I knew this life-changing journey would end. Now that it’s over I wonder if I had truly made the most of it— if the taken advantage of the moments I had to the fullest and how I would fare back home being separated from people who I’d become so close to. I wondered what it would be like to possibly never see the world again after delving head first into it.

I don’t know what lies ahead, but I hope whatever it is, it is full of these people and the experiences I have had with them. More than that, I hope that the best memories I will have with these people are yet to be written. I hope these relationships last long into the future, further than any of us can see, and I hope this program and this journey, will continue to ring true for years to come. And, I hope I never forget.

I hope I never forget:

  • Experiencing London by myself and coming onto a ship to meet 750 new people all in a day, and trying to remember all those names.
  • What it was like to uneasily get on a bus to Berlin by myself, spend a day there, then head back on a three-hour bus ride with one of the most incredible families I have ever met.
  • Walking into the United Nations Human Rights Council and being completely in awe of everything that happened there, not just that day, but for all the years prior.
  • The first time I swam in the ocean, in Cadiz, Spain.
  • The reaffirmation of my life-calling while visiting the children at the Pencils of Promise schools in Ghana—the smiles on the children’s faces and those of the Semester at Sea students and the feeling that I would never stop fighting against the global education crisis.
  • What it is like to be transformed from a Pollywog to the ever-esteemed Emerald Shellback
  • The chilling feeling of walking around Cape Town and imagining how a whole society could legally discriminate, murder, and abuse people all because of their skin color.
  • The incredible feeling I felt while on Robben Island and thinking about how one of my favorite heroes in history, Nelson Mandela, could bear the troubles and worries of a country on his shoulders while imprisoned for 27 years and return into the world an even stronger leader and more compassionate man.
  • The feeling of standing in absolute awe of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil and wondering if the things I had done and will do in my life could ever even make a ripple in the vast ocean of life.
  • The people I have had the incredible opportunity to meet and spend time with on this voyage from the dependent children and the faculty and staff, who prepared us so much for the different ports we visited, to the many people I’ve met at the ports who taught me wonderful lessons even from brief encounters.

Most of all, I hope I never forget the best friends I made on this Fall 2013 voyage, who I have traveled the world with and who learned with me side-by-side about what we can do to advance our world. I have been through thick and thin with these friends in just over 100 days. We shared awkward taxi rides, a 12-day Atlantic crossing, our personal feelings and ambitions, our life stories, uneasiness in new countries, and countless laughs.

I know it sounds cliché, but I think this journey is far from over despite an official ending on December 16th. Instead, I think our journeys are just beginning.

What we write in our futures because of this voyage, and what we do with what we have learned, will be the true journey; what we make of it is up to us. I hope each of us SASers looks at this as a challenging, inspiring, monumental and life-changing journey that we’ve taken together.

I hope that each one of us, will not say “Goodbye”, but “See you later”. And I hope each one of us, will challenge ourselves to question “What’s next?”

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