What is the surest way to get the attention of college students who just embarked on a study abroad journey around the world?
Offer to let them play with children or be mentored by an ‚Äúadopted grandparent.‚Äù
Semester at Sea is a living-learning global education experience. The strong sense of community formed among the participants of each voyage fosters this environment. While music groups and student Ambassador programs were very popular at the Involvement Symposium this week, two sign-up sheets were the longest. Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Extended Families were being sought out by faculty, staff, Lifelong Learners and students. Every participant understood the value that a close support system would bring as we embark on this journey.
The 107th voyage of Semester at Sea is fortunate to include a remarkably diverse community in many ways, but particularly among generations. Of the nearly 60 faculty and staff family members traveling with us, 24 are dependent children. These children study grade-appropriate material during the day, but have the afternoons and evenings free to participate in shipboard activities. Over 200 of the college students signed up to lead or join in on these activities in the capacity of a Big Brother or Big Sister. An intra-mural basketball league designed to combine college students and younger children is in the works. Students leaving the Involvement Symposium explained that with classes and traveling in ports, they looked forward to the fun and relaxation that only children could provide.
Another group of people we are lucky to have are the nearly 60 Lifelong Learners who will be joining us for the entire voyage. Taking classes and participating in activities both as a group and with the entire community, they are the driving force behind the Extended Families program. A favorite of voyagers, this program matches Lifelong Learners or faculty and staff members with a small group of students. An initial ‚Äúfamily dinner‚Äù is planned to introduce the groups to one another, but all subsequent meetings are determined by the ‚Äúfamilies.‚Äù Aside from the wealth of knowledge and experience the Lifelong Learners can share with the students, these smaller units provide a close circle of support for all participants, regardless of age. As Dean Thomas said in his opening remarks, ‚ÄúWe hope that you will all be Lifelong Learners, no matter where you are in the world, and that this is just the beginning of that process.‚Äù