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On-ship affinity groups foster community and diversity
After long sea days filled with exams, classes and evening seminars, students scatter around the ship to meet and build community with others who share similar interests. From African Dance club, to Black Student Union, there are many avenues for students to find their place within the shipboard community. While there are various students groups this semester, two of the most active groups are the Black Student Union and the Pride Club.
“For me, the most important thing is having a space for people,” said Marcela Riddick, a student from Colorado State University. “I love Black Student Union, I love being surrounded by people of color who understand the situations I’ve been in.”
Riddick started her own black student group in high school and was nominated as a leader within that community. Her experience led her to continue empowering others around her and to engage in these identity groups.
“I was part of BSU at my home institution and when I got on the ship, I thought having a strong, black community especially when you’re traveling to all different ports, you don’t know what we might experience in those countries and I think having a strong community has really helped shape our experience,” said Pamela Emanuel.
Another group that provides a strong sense of community and access to resources for students who are navigating countries from a different perspective is the Pride Club. The Pride Club is an organization that supports the LGBTQA+ community on the ship.
“This is the biggest support group I’ve ever had,” said one Pride Club member.
Audrey Montgomery, a student from Oklahoma State University-Stillwater started the Pride Club on the ship as a way to provide a support group for those who identify as queer as well as a space to learn about how others who identify similarly in different countries navigate their identities within their culture.
“I didn’t really find what I was looking for from my LGBT group at home, so I thought I would lead this group to change things up,” Montgomery said. “Whenever we have experiences related to identity or anything like that in port, we come together and talk about it.”
Thanks to student groups like Black Student Union and the Pride Club, voyagers are able to have conversations about their shared identities as well as find support systems and lifelong friendships.
“I feel more comfortable on this ship than I’ve felt in a long time,” said Nicole Malec, a student at the University of San Diego. “I’ve never found as supportive of a community as I have here.”