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The Straw Sisters travel together during the Summer 2013 Voyage

Alumni and current SAS voyager, Becky and Hanna Straw in Ephesus, Turkey

Special Guest of the MV Explorer, Becky Straw, a Spring 2002 alumna, recently traveled with the Summer, 2013 voyage, sailing through Piraeus, Greece.  Straw, who has helped launch multiple non-profit organizations, is co-founder of The Adventure Project, a non-profit established to increase investments in positive social enterprises around the world, with a vision of ending extreme poverty by reinventing how we give. In two years she’s created over 500 jobs that have resulted in helping almost a million people, by providing better food, water, and health care.

During her time onboard, Becky participated in a number of roundtable discussions focusing on career cultivation, working abroad, and women’s leadership.  She also met individually with voyagers about careers in the nonprofit sector.

For Straw, this was not only a great opportunity to revisit the MV Explorer, but also a chance to spend time with her sister, Hanna, currently a student from Sacramento State sailing with the Semester at Sea 2013 Summer Voyage. The Straw sisters, originally from California, spent the day together in Ephesus, participating in Dr. Elizabeth Barre’s field lab for Comparative Religion.

While Hanna recalls her sister’s Semester at Sea experience, she didn’t feel pressure to necessarily follow in her older sisters footsteps, although she ultimately followed suit.

“I was only 9 years old when Becky left for her Semester at Sea Program.  I remember sending her off, but not much else about it,” said Hanna.  “It really didn’t occur to me to travel with SAS, although I guess it’s been in the back of my mind. When Becky recently sent me some information about the program and the great destinations planned, I began to give it more careful consideration, and decided to do it.”

Hanna, a Social Work major from Sacramento State, who hopes to work with seniors, also appreciates this rare opportunity to spend time with her older sibling, who often travels for her work in the nonprofit field. “I don’t get to see Becky often, her being the world traveler that she is, so it’s been really nice having her here.  Normally the only time we get to be together is at Christmas time when we all get together, so it’s nice to have her here all by myself.”

Becky has also enjoyed spending time with her younger sibling while getting to know her as an adult.  “It’s been fun just to get to know her as a person.  We are 12 years apart, so many of our experiences were shared, but separate,” said Becky.  “It’s fun to see how she’s grown as a person and to see this experience through her eyes.”

According to Hanna, she did receive some sage advice from her sister for her trip abroad.   “She told me not to buy 'tchotchkes,' things that I don’t really need.  She encouraged me instead to spend my money on good food and trips and places that I wouldn’t normally see.”

Though Becky sometimes feels nostalgic for that time in her life she spent with the Semester at Sea program, she‚Äôs also enjoyed the time she‚Äôs spent with students onboard and remains pleasantly optimistic. “I‚Äôve really enjoyed the one-on-one time with students.¬† What‚Äôs been most exciting for me is their enthusiasm.¬† After giving my main talk the other evening, students stayed for an hour asking questions.¬† It‚Äôs exciting to see so many students so passionate and interested in sustainable development and issues surrounding ending extreme poverty.‚Äù

Becky also recognizes the role The Semester at Sea experience has played in shaping her life, crediting the program for her career choices.  “SAS is why I got into international development.  I think it solidified the experience and really showed me how lucky and blessed I am for the opportunities I’ve been given that so few people can afford, and just how much I take for granted; the food I eat, the water I drink. Traveling with the Semester at Sea program not only shaped me as a person, but led to my desire to travel and see more of the world.  SAS spurred my curiosity to want to go and understand other communities more,” said Straw.

Becky, whose nonprofit is based in New York City, also values the life lessons she’s learned as a result of her Semester at Sea experience.  “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my travel, is that we are all the same and we all want the same opportunities to care for our own families and keep them healthy.  So I wanted to make that possible for other people in the world.”

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