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Poetry from the Voyage

A selection of poetry inspired by the Spring 2013 Voyage…

Like the Waves

by Cassidy Artz, Northwestern University

Like the waves
casting away
from the shore,
We left our homes,
our comfort zones,
new time zones.

Like the waves
gaining strength
as they form
across the ocean,
we too
became stronger
and grew
with each
passing day on
Semester at Sea.

Like the waves
crashing back
to the shore,
we must return
to our place of origin.

like the waves
we return
in a different form,
having seen
the other side of the world.

My Journey

By Romain Vakilitabar, University of Colorado Boulder

At the end of my days, will I say that I have lived my own journey?
Will I say that the thousands of miles that I have walked were walked in
My shoes?
Will I say that I shut out the noise on the outside to hear and then LISTEN
To my voice inside?
Will I get to say that the words spoken were from
My mouth, dictated by
My thoughts, formulated by
My brain, influenced by
The sights that my eyes have witnessed,
From a journey that I call, with pride,
My own?
My journey begins now. In fact, it has already begun. And,
Unless I find the courage to take
My own first step,
The one that is influence by nothing apart from
My conviction of myself,
I will have lived a life that I will be unable to call
My own.


By Melissa Milich, Springfield College

Like cattle we are herded back onto the coach bus
One by one
Reciting our numbers that would mark us
Stupid me I picked a window seat at the back of the bus
I fight my way through the maze of backpacks and purses
Ducking and crouching through the isle- attempting to avoid being pummeled by shopping bags filled with
Useless paraphernalia

Sitting in the air sealed bus with my forehead pressed up against the cold plexi glass- I can’t help but think
Why me?
Why them?

How was I so fortunate to grow up with a
Roof over my head
Clothes on my back
Food on the table
Why them?

Why must people of the same
Capacity to love and feel
Suffer from so many injustices

As these thoughts race through my head I begin to feel
Claustrophobic in this bus that so many seek comfort in

Suddenly the air is too cold
The mindless chatter nauseating
I feel chained to my small seat
The window’s transparency mocks how close
Yet so far I am from them

The people and their stories
The laughter and tears that make them unique
The disparities that make them fighters- survivors
Frustrated I peel my head back from the glass
Wishing I had the power to shatter the window
To destroy this imbalance
To demolish this barrier between
Me and them.

The following poem was written and then read as an address to the “Post-Port Reflections” participants who had just returned from their stay in Ghana (April 10th). This discussion forum was held after each port.

“Ubuntu” is an indigenous South African concept popularized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, meaning “I am, because you are.”


By Michael Battistone, Chapman University

Tonight we have come seeking reflection.
Returning from the townships and the bush,
From brilliant green jungle, refreshed by falling water,
From the windswept Cape, and beyond:
Dusty-brown India, turquoise-azure waters,
And, like a memory, the great, heaving, metropoli of the East.


Now gathered in the Union discussing our journey, we fly!
Through earnest talk we lift, off of heavy chairs,
Out under the stars, to our ship’s deck.
Each of us together, leaning over the railing,
Peering down to the water, searching, for our reflection.

But we cannot see ourselves-
Only still waters reflect- and this boat is moving.


Always striving, always seeking,
A mad dash for tour: the horizon’s next port.
Continual movement suspends reflection, delays understanding.
We look down, deep water: instead of our reflection, there is only foam, froth, and spit.
How can this be? Where is my dependable self-image?
The seas turn.
Waves clap.

Where am I?


Years later on the journey Al-jezeera is piped into my cabin. The unrest in Burma has reignited.
My thoughts immediately turn to Atun, the mild-mannered, mid-aged, merchant marine from Yangon, in longee, and basketball jersey, smoking cigarettes through a smiling goatee.
Atun, who presented us to the tiny fishing village, Bogalay, his childhood home that he hadn’t visited in twenty years.
Atun,  Who shared the temple that his grandfather helped build,
Who insisted we join the wedding feast,
Who negotiated on our behalf under a silver moon,
Who said about the townspeople we were meeting “I don’t know them, but they are family, the whole town is family.”
Atun, who as we wandered lost and helpless on our first night in Bogalay, stepped out from the darkened beetlenut stand and broke through the imposing silence, offering the sweetest words beleaguered travelers ever hear: “Can I help you”


Following the Wind

by Xavier Mason, University of Alaska Anchorage

By following the wind
We lead our fate.
Shifting our sails through the currents of chance
Going towards the unknown and leaving behind what is safe.
Moving towards destiny
As all we have ever known – grows faint.

Living the liberating verses of Dickinson
Walking the adjacent, seldom traveled, path of Whitman
Discovering freedom as proposed in the poses of Angelou and Hughes:
By taking courage in the midst of hardships and accepting our truths
We have become alive,
We have become the very few.

Writing our own versus into their stanzas
Correlating our old questions,
With our latest answers

Walking the path of adventure
Seeking the enlightenment hidden within the gems of discovery
Searching for the world, its people, and the love

Life has become our teacher
And our memories is the education
The reward, is the tears of joy and the smile engrained on our heart’s faces

I have made moments worthy of memory,
I have found the joys of life too,
But more importantly,
I have found friends like you.

We are FRIENDS, from the beginning, until the glorious end.

(Poem inspired by Room 4021, Ronald Manuel, Brittani Magee, Akbar Shawuti, Shayla Jones, and Alexa Diehl; Dedicated to all of the friends and memories we will never forget. We love you SAS! And a special shout out to the SERIALS, the Crew, Life Long Learners and the Unreasonables!)

  • Life on Land

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