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A Week at "Home" in India

Andrew Waszkowski and his host, Indra, on the beach in Chennai

Semester at Sea has built several connections around the world over the past 49 years, taking new students to trusted locations each semester. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the relationship with the Rotary Club in Chennai, India—a link that’s provided interport students for the past 2 decades and supplied a truly unique home stay for students over the past 17 years.

The MV Explorer docked on the southwest coast this semester, on the opposite side of India from the usual port of Chennai, but the Rotary Club didn’t let the change keep students from seeing their city. 20 students participated in the home stay tradition this year, taking an overnight train from Kochi for the incredible opportunity to live with an Indian family for 3 full days. Once in Chennai, students met their new families and headed off to experience the city firsthand.

‚ÄúThe entire trip was amazing, ‚Äù said Andrew Waszkowski from UNC-Chapel Hill. ‚ÄúI could tell a positive story about every part because each experience was a part of everyday Indian life, whether it was the overnight train ride to Chennai or just walking around the city. My favorite experience was meeting some of the young Rotarians and talking about their careers and how they feel about India‚Äôs future. I got an overall impression of India as an up-and-coming country with a positive energy behind it and it was just amazing to see.”

Tommie Ethington, from Trinity University, got a double dose of culture on her home stay. ‚ÄúIt was a really unique experience because my roommate on the trip was from China. Rarely would you visit another country and experience 2 different cultures,” she said. “I think the Rotary home stay speaks to Semester at Sea‚Äôs connections‚Äîpeople respect the program, want to be a part of it, and want to invite us into their homes.‚Äù

Tommie Ethington and Yunshu Fan with their home stay hosts

For Waszkowski, who works at a Bollywood movie theater in North Carolina, the home stay was a chance to see everything India has to offer. “There were so many different cultures, peoples, religions and social classes, but they were all still managing to work together in this democracy,” he said. “It made me want to learn more about India because it is working. It was invigorating to see a democracy with so many people invested in making the future of their country a positive one.‚Äù

SAS provides dozens of cultural opportunities in each country, including home stays in South Africa, Ghana, and multiple home stays in India. Next up on the itinerary is an afternoon at a family home in Yokohama, Japan. There’s no better way to learn about a country than to see it through the eyes of Semester at Sea’s generous hosts all around the world.

  • Culture
  • Life at Sea

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