Skip to content

IMPACT Scholars Reflect on the Spring 2015 Voyage

G46A0898_960IMPACT programs are intended to promote service and interaction between the shipboard community and local organizations, such as orphanages, universities, and non-profits. During the Spring 2015 Voyage, six IMPACT scholars and several staff members worked to facilitate and improve these experiences. On the ship, they allocated Global Grins toothbrushes, crayons, and One World Futbol blue soccer balls for donation to in-port partners. Off the ship, they participated in dozens of IMPACT programs and brought their observations back to the team. After a busy semester, here are some of their reflections.

What have you enjoyed most during your time as an IMPACT Scholar with SAS?

“I am a person who believes in the power of one individual being capable of saving the world. I have¬†¬†¬†Wenclawski_Stephanie_G46A0022 unrealistic goals about helping others and making a positive impact. Through my time as an IMPACT scholar, though, I gained a new meaning about service in other countries. In my previous service experiences abroad, I have been in communities for extended periods, learning from the community members and helping them with issues they identified, leaving each community with the feeling I had made a positive impact. Going on impact trips at the beginning of the voyage frustrated me. I wanted to spend days in these communities doing everything I could to help the children and community members improve their way of life. Through discussions within the IMPACT program and my fellow scholars, I came to understand and appreciate that not all people living differently from the way I live need to change. The way people live reflects their culture and way of life. Through simply spending time in communities, even if my time there is short, I can make an impact through understanding the way people live and what occurs in their daily lives. Ultimately, I learned that no matter how you live or the challenges you face, each one of us is a precious human being.”

–Stephanie Wenclawski, North Carolina State University


Schwartz_Ryan_G46A0040“As an IMPACT Scholar, I have enjoyed seeing many solutions to worldwide problems during IMPACT Programs. In India, I visited a ‚ÄúMissionaries of Charity‚Äù orphanage for the mentally and physically handicapped. The orphanage has installed a sensory room, which stimulates brain activity in mentally disabled people. I have only ever seen such rooms back home, so it was uplifting to see such life-changing technology halfway around the world. The Janaseva Sisubhavan boys‚Äô orphanage, also in India, is highly successful in keeping boys off the streets. Instead of joining gangs, these boys are housed, fed, and schooled among their brothers. During the Mondesa Township visit, I was able to see the Namibian government‚Äôs response to poverty ‚Äì more and more people are provided with homes each year because of their efforts. Seeing these innovative solutions has encouraged me to bring my new knowledge back to the United States and begin making a difference.”

–Ryan Schwartz, Bentley University


“I have loved analyzing my own impact as a tourist. How can I be a responsible and respectful visitor, Baade_Emily_G46A8505without intruding on local culture? How do ethics, power dynamics, and poverty play a role? Working with the IMPACT team has given me the opportunity to really explore these ideas‚Äîthroughout fascinating discussions and our own ship-wide seminar. IMPACT programs are about how I will be impacted by another culture, not about how I can make an impact. Instead of focusing on what I can improve in a country in a five day visit, I now look for what I can learn. I have also become very conscious of my camera. I have realized that I want to see and experience‚Äînot just take pictures. Photographs have their place, but interacting with the people around me always takes priority. Putting the camera down gave me the chance to run footraces with little boys in India and play soccer in the streets of Mondesa Township (Namibia). I danced the Macarena at a Cambodian girls‚Äô school, and I asked new friends from Ritsumeikan University about the employment process in Japan. These are memories better than any selfie. I am so grateful for the opportunity I‚Äôve had to be on Semester at Sea and to critically examine tourism through my work with the IMPACT team.”

–Emily Baade, University of Alabama


Fichthorn_Jordan_G46A0064“The thing I have enjoyed most is being a part of the movement on the ship to shape and change people‚Äôs perspectives and attitudes about tourism. More importantly, I think we really helped change the definition of ‚Äúimpact.‚Äù As we started the voyage, many people had an idea of what they thought impact meant. Throughout the first few countries, people came back frustrated and not understanding the purpose of these cultural programs. As time went on we were able to facilitate and promote discussions about what impact really meant. It‚Äôs not just an opportunity to bring change in these places (which is usually hard to do in such a short amount of time), but to learn something from the locals and apply it to our lives. It is really about a two way exchange, not just us bringing gifts to solve their problems. Apart from this experience (which was primarily on the ship), interacting with locals by playing futbol was a close second. Seeing children smile and break out of their shells by playing with us was incredible.”

–Jordan Fichthorn, University of Memphis


Photos by Evan Meyer

  • Culture
  • Education
  • Life at Sea
  • Service

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