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Students, Staculty, and Crew come together for Shipboard Drive

Evan Witt and Maura Newell man a donation booth outside Berlin Restaurant

The MV World Odyssey buzzed with newfound excitement during the passage between South Africa and Ghana thanks to the arrival of the Shipboard Drive. Every voyage, the at-sea community works together to help raise money for future students to embark on a Semester at Sea voyage. According to Evan Witt, Resident Director and Coordinator for Alumni and Development, this year’s shipboard drive is about creating a celebratory week of giving.

“It is a week that is not concerned on the financial goal, but focuses on participation,” Witt said. “It teaches students the power and value of giving back while celebrating our shipboard community.”

Witt and his group of work study students operated donation booths outside of the two dining halls during lunch and dinner hours.

“It’s been a lot of work to get to this moment,” said Maura Newell, a work study student from St. Mary’s College. “But we’ve been seeing some really good results. We had over 200 donations in the first day alone.”

Kennedy Avery (Univ San Diego) fills out a donation form.
Kennedy Avery (University of San Diego) fills out a donation form

Approximately 60 percent of SAS students receive financial aid. Students were encouraged to donate in order to receive gifts like stickers, magnets, and other SAS trinkets. As an extra incentive, the first sea to have all of its members donate would receive a pizza party.

“It’s a friendly competition between the seas,” Witt said. “It’s all in the hope that 100 percent of the people on this ship will contribute to future Semester at Sea voyages.”

Each day of the shipboard drive featured a different event to bring everyone together in a collective spirit. A movie night kicked the festivities off, followed by a talent show and a BINGO night. The grand finale featured a live and silent auction of over 150 items, all donated by the shipboard community. Auction items included the chance to steer the ship for 30 minutes, the opportunity to select the ship menu for a day, and homestay trips with staff and faculty.

“It shows how well we work with the crew on the ship because they don’t need to donate their time and resources, but they have,” Witt said. “ It also shows how involved our Staculty (faculty/staff) is with this student body. They’re willing to spend time working one-on-one with these students and are also ready to offer up their homes.”

In conjunction with the shipboard drive, each day between South Africa and Ghana featured a different ‚ÄúSpirit Day‚Äù theme. The first day, students were encouraged to wear their favorite SAS gear. The second day students dressed in the attire of their favorite decade, the third day they wore gear to represent their hometowns, and on the last day everyone dressed in pairs for “Twin Day”.

On the night of March 28, Arabian Sea earned the pizza party with a 100 percent donation rate. Roughly 75 percent of the shipboard community donated.

“As we approach the end of our voyage, it has been very powerful to see the transformative experiences our students have had,” Witt said.  “Their commitment to pay that experience forward to future SASers has been inspiring.”  

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