Skip to content

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Inspires SAS Voyagers Young and Old

The Archbishop and his wife, Leah, make their way to the MV Explorer upon their arrival at the Cape Town port. With them is SAS Chief of Staff Luke Jones.

Just hours before leaving South Africa, the Fall 2013 voyage’s shipboard community received a special guest speaker: Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Long a friend, and staunch supporter, of Semester at Sea, the Archbishop, his wife, Leah, and some of his family members, visited the MV Explorer to speak to voyage participants as well as the parents of some students who joined the ship for a four-day Parent-Student trip in South Africa.

Archbishop Tutu is revered for his work in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. His efforts and dedication earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. After the fall of the apartheid institution, the Archbishop served as chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And in 2007, he received the International Gandhi Peace Prize.

Before addressing the standing-room-only crowd in the ship’s Union, the Archbishop spoke briefly to the Fall 2013 voyage’s faculty, staff and lifelong learners in the Glazer Faculty-Staff Lounge. He reminded the adults of the promise that young people hold for the future of the world and urged them to encourage the students’ idealism rather than to inflict “the cynicism of the oldies” upon them. He also marveled at the work that students do, on every voyage on which he has sailed, to help make the world a better place.

“It’s wonderful to have been young, but they say it tends to be wasted on youth, but I’ve found that not to be true,” he said. “All the voyages we’ve been on, I see how incredibly idealistic they are. Almost all believe the world can be a better place.”

The Archbishop told the adults to “dream of a world where poverty is history, where war is no more. We know that a tiny fraction of us can ensure that children have clean water. We know we can do it,” he told them.

Archbishop Tutu and his wife have sailed on the entire Spring 2007 and Fall 201 SAS voyages and on the first major leg of the Spring 2013 voyage (from San Diego, CA to Cape Town). They have also visited the ship in Cape Town on numerous occasions. The Desmond Tutu Distinguished Chair in Global Understanding was established in his honor to promote global awareness and intercultural understanding.

Upon his arrival in the Union, the Archbishop was met with unbridled enthusiasm, cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd of students, many of whom cut their last day in Cape Town short to rush back to the ship for a glimpse of the Archbishop and to hear him speak.

Photos by SAS Fall 2013 Photographer Bryan Koop

The Tutus, and their family members, head up the gangway.
SAS Chief of Staff Luke Jones tours the 50th anniversary History Lane with the Archbishop. It was the first time he had seen the photos since his last time on the MV Explorer.
“I just hope we can harness their enthusiasm and their drive to turn our world around,” the Archbishop told the gathering of faculty, staff and life long learners about the promise of young people.
“You are fantastic,” he told the students. “You are dreamers. You are idealistic.”
The Archbishop was greeted by a standing-room-only crowd in the ship’s Union.
He reminded students of how crucial university students in the U.S. were in helping to force their universities to divest from South Africa during the late 1980s to help bring down the apartheid government.
The shipboard community created a colorful “Welcome Home” banner to greet the Archbishop upon his arrival to the MV Explorer, his Semester at Sea home away from home.
Following his talk with students, the Archbishop was interviewed by the Fall 2013 voyage’s communications team.
  • Life on Land

Related Articles

Who’s On Board? Meet Dorcas, our Tutu Ubuntu Scholar
Read More
Semester at Sea updates Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 itineraries with new destinations on three continents
Read More
Spring 2023 Voyage: By the Numbers
Read More