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Each voyage is life-changing and challenging, including this one.

Each voyage is life-changing and challenging, including this one.

The most concise way to define the Semester at Sea experience is transformational. Whether you sailed in Fall 1973 or Spring 2024, articulating your voyage’s magnitude usually includes some variation of, “It changed my life.” Those who haven’t participated can imagine how seeing the world can shift perceptions, but what Semester at Sea graduates fully comprehend is the transformation resulting from being a member of the shipboard community.

Our floating campus may take us away from home and out of our comfort zones, but it doesn’t separate us from current events or make us immune to global happenings. Our current voyage, Spring 2024, has been the latest example. Like many people around the world, members of our shipboard community are impacted by the Middle East conflict. Sadness, fear, and anger over this conflict have sparked conversations and resulted in public displays of stances and beliefs. Visceral reactions to discourses and signs of support or disapproval have created discomfort for some and trepidation for others. 

In alignment with our values and intention to create global citizens, we have not only created space for transparent and open communication–we’ve welcomed it. We recognize that in order for true learning to occur, we cannot shy away from difficult conversations, even when it requires being vulnerable and sharing what we may assume doesn’t need to be said. While we’re learning, we can also be educators. Like we’ve done for all previous voyages, we are giving current students the opportunity to learn alongside and educate one another.

We take the responsibility of creating a safe learning environment seriously. As such, while our students are doing some of the emotional work that results from engaging in open dialogues and exploration, we are providing clear parameters about what is expected of members of the shipboard community and what is not permitted. All members have been made well aware that safety is our top priority,  And, we do not tolerate intolerance. It goes against the very nature of Semester at Sea.

Spring 2024 students have embarked on an incredible journey, one that includes more than exploring different countries and cultures. They are also exploring the impact of conflict in community and the personal implications of global events. As they prepare to return home, they will be faced with the reality of life after this transformative experience. They will question who they are, how they occupied space pre-voyage, and who they want to evolve into after seeing, feeling, and knowing what they saw, felt, and learned. And as they ease back into their former lives, they will also consider their shipboard community–the only ones in the world who experienced the same voyage, at the same time. 

After assessing what may have presented uncomfortable and challenging times, these students will reflect on their voyage and acknowledge in their own way, “It changed my life.”

And that’s a good thing. 

“We are uniquely built to change and challenge students; challenging them not only to build a better world but build a better self,” said Scott Marshall, president and CEO of the Institute for Shipboard Education. “While we might wish that there were no challenging conditions on our ship, I don’t wish for that. I welcome it, as difficult as it may sometimes prove to be.”

Want to learn along with us? Join our mailing list and become a part of our learning community. 


  • Voyage Communication

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