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Children's Perspectives: Growing Up on the MV Explorer
Having a close-knit community on the ship is one of the many things that sets Semester at Sea apart. During orientation, the use of the word “family” may have seemed extreme for students who had no idea what to expect during the next few months. But as time has crept on, family is exactly what we have become.
Students ask the crew members what they did in each country, greet professors whenever they bump into each other in port and most importantly always have a smile for the children on the ship.
Just like everyone else, most kids on the ship had no idea what to expect from the voyage. 13 year-old Landon Dahl expected the ship to be bigger, 12 year-old Jasmin Galloway didn’t realize how many stairs there were and 7 year-old Dhilan Graves thought there would be only one dining room.
There are 11 kids on the voyage, not including older family members who take classes with the other students. Everyday at 13:00 they have snack and activity time, where they may work on different projects or play outside on the deck. They all have their own curriculums, whether they are being homeschooled or have work through their normal schools. Some are already done with their materials for the semester and some think that they have too much work to do.
One thing they could all agree on was that they didn’t know what it would be like to live with college students.
“I didn’t really think college students wanted anything to do with people younger than them,” Landon said. Now she feels that the college students are always eager to talk and hang out with the children on the ship. Dhilan agrees, even as the youngest member in the shipboard community, that it’s nice to hang out with the college kids.
Jasmin didn’t want to live with college students at all. She thought that they wouldn’t let her do anything fun on the ship, or that they would be exclusive. Now Jasmin wants to go say “hi” to the students she knows, especially when she sees them in port.
“It’s fun, because they are silly and they share a lot of their food at the snack bar,” said her younger brother, 9-year-old James Galloway.
Max Mongosso, who is 12-years-old, has especially grown to love living on the ship. His cabin feels like his room at home. He thinks the college kids are really nice to be around and knows where all of his college friends live or hang out. He even said that he would give away all of his video game consoles to be on the ship for the rest of his life. Max’s favorite activity on the ship so far has been participating in the ship talent show.
“I knew there’d be people out there cheering for me, like family,” Max said. He was dared by one of his college friends to do his ventriloquist act for the first open mic night, but felt completely comfortable the second time. He misses some things from home, but will miss the ship and all of his friends on it. This is something that all of the college students feel, as well. Even if there may be a bit of homesickness for some, there is nothing that can replace the excitement of exploring the world.
“I get to see all these new places and how different it is around the world,” James said. His sister Jasmin, Landon and Max all want to come back to Semester at Sea when they get to be college students. They would like to continue traveling after this experience, like many other members of the shipboard community.
“I’m afraid when I go back home, I won’t be able to stop [traveling],” Max said.