My family‚Äôs involvement with Semester at Sea began in 2011 when I sailed as a student on that year‚Äôs summer voyage. During this voyage around the Mediterranean, my mom and dad visited Greece with the SAS parent trip and decided to start volunteering on the SAS Parent Council shortly thereafter. A couple years later, my mom decided to take a step (or a massive hurdle) outside her comfort zone and sail as a Lifelong Learner on the Spring 2013 voyage around the world. It was on this voyage that she visited Ghana and that a young man named Fred changed her life.
Fred, born and raised in a small Ghanaian farming village called Senase, had been using social media to offer homestay trips in his village for foreigners visiting Ghana. My mom decided that a homestay trip to a rural village in Ghana might just be as far outside her comfort zone as she could get¬†and during my mom‚Äôs visit in 2013, she fell in love with the village and its close-knit community. My mom left with a new outlook and a new family that¬†she promised both Fred and herself that, one day, she would return.
Over the months that followed my mom‚Äôs departure from Ghana, she and Fred remained in close contact, speaking often and brainstorming ways in which my mom could serve the people of Senase from thousands of miles away. Through a whirlwind series of events, my mom and dad decided that they would financially sponsor Fred‚Äôs education at Hult International Business School in London. Their hope was that they could help Fred complete a degree in higher education so that he could use to better the education system in his¬†village. Today, Fred is three semesters away from completing his bachelors degree in Social Entrepreneurship.
Amidst Fred‚Äôs schooling and my parents‚Äô continued search for ways to have a positive impact on the village of Senase, they helped to start a new project called The Godfreds Foundation. This foundation was named after a gifted and bright child in Senase who was, until recently, without access to a good education due to an ineffective education system in the village.¬†According to the people of Senase, their children don’t stand a chance at a bright future with the education they receive at their local schools. The mission of the Godfred Foundation is to provide a safe and productive learning environment for the youth of Senase.
This brings us to the present day when I disembarked the MV Explorer in Ghana. My mother had decided to fly to Tema¬†to meet me with the ship and to continue her work and relationship with Fred and The Godfreds Foundation. This would also be my opportunity to¬†met Fred for the first time. It was a wonderful reunion and introduction but we had work to do. By the time we departed from Takoradi, my mom, Fred, and I had purchased six acres of land on which to build our school from the chief of Senase. ¬†We then met with the future headmaster of the school, worked to create a sign bearing the name and logo of The Godfreds Foundation, and proudly erected it on the land. This visit to Senase marked the first concrete steps of The Godfreds Foundation‚Äôs mission, and has given the project its first gust of momentum toward completion.
Semester at Sea completely changed my view of the world and my place in it on my student voyage back in 2011. On her voyage, my mom stumbled upon what she would call ‚Äúa new sense of purpose‚Äù through her time with Fred in Senase. And now, it‚Äôs Fred‚Äôs turn; as this common thread continues forward, Fred will be sailing as a student on the Summer 2014 voyage of Semester at Sea! It is incredible to reflect on the amazing impact Semester at Sea has had on my family and me, and we are so excited to see the ways in which it will impact Fred on his upcoming voyage.