Skip to content

Seeking Our Own Stories

Adam Braun, Semester at Sea Alum and Founder of Pencils of Promise, Rejoins the SAS Community from Morocco to Ghana

“Tourists see, travelers seek.”

With these words, Adam Braun, Semester at Sea alum and founder of Pencils of Promise, inspired a room full of students (of all ages) to remember exactly why we have set out on this voyage.  The inter-port lecturer from Morocco to Ghana, Adam joined the shipboard community for one leg of the journey to share his SAS story and encourage us to create our own.

Adam sailed on the Spring 2005 voyage, and it was that experience which prompted him to backpack for a year after college.  While traveling, he asked a small boy who was begging on the street, “What would you like most in the world?”  His answer changed the course of Adam’s life, and may very well have changed those of the Fall 2011 participants who listened to Adam speak.  The boy responded, “A pencil.”  Adam gave him a pencil, and hasn’t stopped providing pencils to the world’s children since.

With 41 schools in Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala, Pencils of Promise (PoP) has accomplished much in its three-year existence.  Their mission statement, “PoP builds schools in the developing world and trains young leaders to take action at home and abroad,” shows that this is a non-profit, but not a charity.  Any site being considered for a PoP school is ranked based on Need, Sustainability, Cost Efficiency, Impact and Commitment.  The local community is involved in every step of the process, and runs the school once it is complete.  As a result of these unique partnerships, PoP schools have delivered more than 1,000,000 educational hours in the developing world.

Adam came back to the MV Explorer to share his love and enthusiasm for Semester at Sea and the opportunities the study abroad program provides each participant.   Clearly, the message hit home.  Students, Lifelong Learners, faculty and staff packed the Union for his two presentations and signed up days in advance for one-on-one discussions with him.  While we may not all start an internationally-acclaimed non-profit, Adam’s story proved that each person that participates in Semester at Sea will be uniquely placed to do our own bit of good.  As participants reached our second port – Tema (Accra,) Ghana – the desire to seek, not see, was evident.  Seeking to learn about the communities we visit, but also seeking our own “Pencils of Promise” story on our path to becoming global citizens.







  • Culture
  • Education
  • Life at Sea
  • Service

Related Articles

Who’s On Board? Meet Dorcas, our Tutu Ubuntu Scholar
Read More
Semester at Sea updates Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 itineraries with new destinations on three continents
Read More
Spring 2023 Voyage: By the Numbers
Read More