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Practicing Ubuntu

Photo Credit: Siqi Cai, Student

In her opening remarks during Semester at Sea’s Fall 2011 orientation, Executive Dean Jill Wright discussed the concept of Ubuntu.  A humanist philosophy at the root of many African cultures, Ubuntu is the idea that humanity is relative, and each person is only a person because of his or her connection to others.  At last night’s Cultural Pre-Port presentation for our first port – Casablanca, Morocco – Dean of Students Mamta Accapadi reiterated this idea and the significance it holds as we begin our journey out into the world.

To be as prepared as possible for each port and make the most of the opportunities available, the Semester at Sea study abroad program hosts a Cultural Pre-Port presentation before arrival in each country.  Music, religion, food, dress and some useful phrases in Arabic were presented by faculty, student Mobasshir Poonawalla, and Rachida Bejja, native of Morocco and wife of faculty member John Morrow.  The evening closed with Dean Accapadi explaining the benefits and responsibilities of the global education we are all embarking upon.  Her reminder about Ubuntu encouraged each participant to do as much good as possible, in whatever way he or she can.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and member of the Institute for Shipboard Education and Semester at Sea Board of Trustees, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described Ubuntu in the following way:

“…It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole.”

РArchbishop Desmond Tutu “God Has A Dream” © 2004 Published by Doubleday

Tomorrow, when we dock in Casablanca and go off on our various journeys, the hope of all participants is that we may open to others and willing to share and learn.  If we have learned anything from living on a ship for a week, it is that we are all in this together.

  • Culture
  • Education
  • Life on Land

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