As IMPACT Service Scholars, we have seen the power of service within the Semester at Sea community. A sense of commitment to others is evident on the voyage, and the semester‚Äôs motto, “Ubuntu: I am because you are,” perfectly encompasses who we are on the Spring 2014 voyage. Many voyagers have demonstrated a strong sense of commitment in their hometowns, but expanding this to a global scale has been truly invaluable. For many students, service visits have been some of the highlights and most life-changing experiences of the last four months. It will be a rare experience to come across such passionate and dedicated young adults like the voyagers on Semester at Sea. Besides giving back through Semester at Sea and independent service trips, we have also been able to give back by partnering with Global Grins and One World Futbol. Global Grins donated 30,000 toothbrushes for the shipboard community to distribute to children in need. To our amazement, the voyagers have given out every single one, and we have seen so many of the smiles along the way.
Courtney Smith from Transylvania University spent the night at Torgorme Village in the Volta Region of Ghana, and was able to pass out the toothbrushes. “I was blessed to spend some time with the village community and experience their culture,” she said. “While on this trip, I met some amazing children who from the minute I got there put a smile on my face.¬† Despite the fact that these children live with very little, they were some of the happiest that I have ever met. As I was handing toothbrushes¬†out, one little boy came up to me, politely tapped me on the shoulder, and proceeded to pretend to brush his teeth and smile. I will never forget the infectious smile that spread across his face, but also the smile that he put on mine. Global Grins was able to spread smiles all the way to a small village in Ghana, and I am so thankful that I got to be a part of it.” Semester at Sea students were also able to donate 200 One World Futbols around the world throughout our travels. This created some of the most intimate moments for our voyagers, as they were able to spend quality time playing with people from all over the world. Even when there were significant language and culture barriers, the universal love for this sport broke them down¬†and changed them to smiles, laughs and some good exercise. The photo at the top of this post shows Alicia Butler from Bentley University playing a pickup game with a One World Futbol soccer ball. Alicia said, “the youngest children were called out and we donated both the soccer balls¬†and toothbrushes to them. The 200 children that were in Pre-K and Kindergarten came out to play with us! It was really gratifying to see the children happily jumping for excitement to see us there; we had a great day and overall, I have had an amazing experience with One World Futbol.” As IMPACT Scholars, service has played a large role in our lives, and traveling on Semester at Sea has provided numerous opportunities to serve around the world. Like many voyagers, this voyage has been life changing and eye opening, and service will continue to play a large role in our lives in the future.