Within the past two weeks, the U.S. Treasury Department and the United Nations released statements regarding the conflict in Myanmar (Burma) and the atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslim communities. Because of these statements, some Semester at Sea alumni and future voyagers have been curious about Semester at Sea‚Äôs stance on these issues and why future voyages are still planned to Myanmar (Burma) despite international groups denouncing the actions of the Burmese government.
Keeping Myanmar (Burma) on the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 Voyage itineraries provides a powerful and important learning opportunity for Semester at Sea voyagers, not in support of, but rather in opposition to, the atrocities that have occurred in Rakhine state. ¬†Our mission is to study history, root causes of conflict, and the importance of citizenship, education, and public participation in political processes. The shipboard community will engage in thoughtful, comprehensive discussions about the crisis. It will come to understand the root causes of such terrible outcomes. In addition, it is our hope that Semester at Sea voyagers will become educated global citizens who can recognize such root causes, analyze the complexities of humanitarian crises wherever they may be, and be part of the solution.
It is still relevant and important to point out, however, that these learning opportunities will never outweigh our commitment to the health and safety of our voyagers, which is always our number one priority. At the moment, the US State Department continues to assess Myanmar‚Äôs (Burma’s) Travel Advisory at a Level 1, which advises, “Exercise Normal Precautions” when traveling through the country. ¬†This is the lowest State Department safety travel advisory given for U.S. citizens utilizing their 1-4 Scale rating analysis system. The U.S. State Department does advise no travel for U.S. citizens in the Rakhine State due to civil unrest. If¬†at any point travel to Myanmar (Burma) becomes unsafe, we will, without reservation, alter our itinerary to call on a port that will be a safer alternative.