Semester at Sea is always seeking to strengthen the lasting impact of in-country programming by partnering with organizations that help support their communities and change the lives of Semester at Sea‚Äôs students.
The Chapman Impact Project is the latest example of voyagers working to support long-term in-country partners who have welcomed and enlightened Semester at Sea students for years. At its core, the project is about positively impacting port countries via long-term, mutually-beneficial partnerships and the creation of field programs that provide unique and meaningful opportunities for voyagers to deeply engage with the host community.
Thanks to the generous donation of a Semester at Sea alumnus and former Lifelong Learner, this project provides scholarship opportunities and two free impact-focused field programs to 16 students on the current voyage. Students were selected for this merit-based scholarship and start their inaugural field program in India in just a few days!
One Spring 2019 Impact Scholar and gap-year student, Vicki Apostolou of Greece, noted that the scholarship program allows her to ‚Äúexercise my Semester at Sea values to the greatest extent possible. Having participated in community work in the past, I am very excited to get familiar with different approaches to it on this voyage and what the involvement of outsiders like us can have without being ignorant or invasive. Working on our active listening skills, using our cultural relativist lenses, and being continuously willing to share our stories and even get uncomfortable are all going to be valuable experiences during our trips.‚Äù
A group of 16 student scholars and three faculty and staff members will be traveling to NGO partners in India and South Africa, which were selected from a pool of over 50 projects. The intent of these partnerships is to broadly support the mission and long-term success of the local organizations through grant funding and student service.
‚ÄúI applied for the Impact cohort because the ideals of the project really resonated with me. Throughout my life, I have been passionate about environmentalism and service, and I think that it will be very interesting to gain a more global perspective on both of these issues. I think it‚Äôs important to learn how we can be responsible travelers and to understand different social issues that are happening in the countries that we visit,‚Äù said Impact Scholar and gap-year student Bethan Evans of the United Kingdom.
Impact Scholar Riley Killian of Christopher Newport University said, ‚ÄúI applied and joined the Impact cohort because service has always been a large part of my college experience and I wanted to continue that while I was abroad. I also really wanted to see a different part of the countries we were going to visit. It is amazing to be able to travel to all of these countries but I also wanted to have a deeper understanding of some of the countries that I would visit.‚Äù
Kranti was selected as the NGO partner in India. Its program empowers girls from Mumbai‚Äôs red-light district to become agents of social change. It currently works with 25 girls ages 13 to 23 who are daughters of sex workers, survivors of sex trafficking, or born and raised in the red light district. Kranti provides housing, mental health services, education, and job training to the girls of their center.
Diana Musco of SUNY College – Geneseo, another Impact Scholar, is looking forward to the transformations she expects to undergo in India. ‚ÄúAfter the program in India, I hope to gain more knowledge and become educated about the experiences that the women and girls have had during their lifetime with the challenges they have faced. I would love to think of new ways to fundraise for the organization and for victims of sex trafficking in the future, as well as continuing to listen to their stories and providing support.‚Äù
In South Africa, the selected NGO partner is Grootbos Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. This organization works to conserve the critically endangered fynbos ecosystem, while also focusing on training and skills development for the surrounding communities. It is dedicated to empowering others through ecotourism, enterprise development, and education.
Collins Kalyebi of Wartburg College¬†hopes to bring home the impact he experiences to his home community in Uganda.
‚ÄúI am also a social entrepreneur who hopes to learn from the organizations that we will be visiting. I have been involved with a couple of community initiatives, some similar to the organizations we will be working with both in India and South Africa and am hoping to learn from them. You never know if I can use some of their ideas to help with similar challenges within my community.‚Äù
To follow along with the Impact Scholars during their time in India and South Africa, follow Semester at Sea on Instagram.