On January 4, 557 people, some Semester at Sea alumni, others devoted friends of the program, embarked the MV Explorer for the 2014 Reunion Voyage. A four-day voyage from San Diego, California to Ensenada, Mexico and back, people of all ages came together to reunite with old friends, make new friends, and celebrate a program that many say shaped their lives.
With Semester at Sea celebrating its 50th year, this year‚Äôs Reunion Voyage was especially meaningful and allowed for many opportunities to honor the extensive history of the program. The voyage also commemorated milestone reunion years of 1964, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and the new one-year reunion for 2013 voyagers.
In Ensenada, participants took part in field programs such as visits to La Bufadora natural sea spout and Baja wine country, a Baja horseback trail ride, a city tour, whale watching, and The $100 Solution service trip. Founded by SAS alumnus Bernie Strenecky, $100 Solution provides students with knowledge, skills, and funds of exactly 100 USD to go into communities and make a difference by asking a simple question: ‚ÄúWhat can we do to improve your quality of life?‚Äù The Ensenada $100 solution program visited the La Mision community and worked with locals to protect wetlands near their homes.
On board the ship, days were filled with educational sessions with guest speakers such as Mike Wilkin who spoke about Myths, Mysteries, and Magic of Mexico, a filmmaking discussion with writer and producer Brandon Hooper, and much more. Voyagers were also delighted with exciting entertainment including the comedy of Theo Von, Ron Babcock, and Jason Visenberg; salsa lessons of Juli Shulem; the music of the John Rosenberg Trio, Connor Garvey, Andy Hill & Renee Safier, DJ Ryan McCabe, Natasha Blume, and Jonathan Katz; and of course the ever-favorite, MV Explorer crew talent show.
President Les McCabe addressed the shipboard community in an enlightening seaside chat in which he discussed the state of the institute in great detail, including the fact that only 5% of Semester at Sea alumni give to the program annually. The talk sparked an incredible rally for fundraising, initiated and managed by alumni and/or friends of SAS Tracey Sherman, Bill Bridge, Donna Ayerst, and Ashley Lacourse. The team behind the rally initiated a $50,000 challenge, which was met and surpassed within a six-hour period on the last day of the voyage. Including the voyage live and silent auction, the shipboard community of the 2014 Reunion Voyage raised over $125,000 for the program.
The next Reunion Voyage will take place in January 2016.