Now the time has come to leave the¬†MV Explorer,¬†our summer home that took us to 13 cities and 10 countries in Europe and North Africa over the last 66 days. I know when it‚Äôs time to step off the gangway for the final time, we will experience that proverbial, yet unsettling feeling that has been conveyed countless times by those who have sailed with SAS before us, knowing its time to go, yet wanting to linger a little¬†longer.
As the ship sits here in this bucolic, picturesque setting, surrounded by serene, aqua blue waters enveloping the port of Lisbon, my thoughts begin to¬†drift back to ‚Äúreal‚Äù life and wonder what it will be like. Looking back at the experiences we have had on this voyage, it becomes clear that it has been truly life changing.
During this voyage, the common collective response from students when asked about their SAS experience was, ‚ÄúI feel like I am a different person now. I‚Äôve changed.‚Äù
Students have changed. They've gone out of their comfort zones, challenged themselves and grown in immeasurable ways that can only be quantified in years to come. They have embraced new cultures, set out into the unknown and come back with a new perspective.
Thinking about all the people encountered along the way it becomes clear that the bonds formed were incredibly special.
Thinking about the dedicated staff and crew of the¬†MV Explorer, who work long¬†hours/days/weeks, separated from their loved ones for long stretches, and the humbling way in which they embrace passengers, taking care of them as if they were their¬†own.
We will remember the kind smile of a lifelong learner, a mentor to many a¬†wayward student in need of a little TLC while far from home. We will remember the kindness of strangers in a foreign port and the special moments reflecting with newfound friends.
And we will remember the dreamers, the teachers and tomorrow‚Äôs leaders – to those who dare to¬†change course and take a different path.
On this finite journey, this 66 day voyage, we‚Äôve experienced the gamut of emotions; the highs the lows of life‚Äôs ebb and flow, with a beginning, middle and end. And like life, the subtle whisper, a constant companion asking:¬†¬†How will you spend your time on this journey?¬† Will your time be well spent?
Being on this voyage was rewarding, it was joyful, it¬†was challenging, it was sad, and it was happy. Kind of like life. I believe that everyone has a story to tell and I believe it‚Äôs been a¬†privilege to tell the stories of¬†those traveling on the¬†MV Explorer¬†during the Summer 2013 Voyage.
Until we sail again, may your journey be a safe one, filled with rich adventures, full of life‚Äôs pleasures, with calm seas ahead.