When lifelong learner Mike Derezin first embarked on Semester at Sea, he was in his 20s. Now, many years later, he is proud and excited to have made the journey around the world again with his wife Lisa and their two daughters, Sage and Mia.
The Lifelong Learner program allows adult voyagers and their families to set sail with Semester at Sea. They participate in ship life, in-country experiences, and much more.
“Why wait until I retire to get back on the ship? Let’s do it with the family,” Mike said.
Lisa was on board and excited about the opportunity. They asked their daughters, who are both still in school.
“We said ‘definitely!'” Sage and Mia said enthusiastically.
Mike is a board member for the Institute for Shipboard Education and serves as a vice president at LinkedIn. Getting to spend quality time with the family was a big factor in his decision to sail.
“I work really intense hours,” he said, “It was really important for me to be with the family before they grow up.”
However, not all decisions can be made overnight.
“It wasn’t easy . . . to walk away from work for several months,” he continued, “But you’d be surprised when you take that leap what’s possible.”
The Derezins have enjoyed and immersed themselves in many experiences in port, Myanmar being a favorite.
“I liked Myanmar because I didn’t really expect anything,” Sage said.
“Myanmar blew us away as a family. . . hot air ballooning over 10 thousand pagodas in Bagan was breathtaking,” Mike added.
While it has been a lot of fun, four months of traveling together as a family has not been without its challenges. For Mike, one of the biggest has been homeschooling their girls.
“They don’t really like to listen to Mommy and Daddy,” Mike said, “but we figured it out that they like to listen to and do school work with college students.”
Lisa believes the voyage has given her a new perspective on her family. Not having to grocery shop, cook dinners and run daily errands takes a lot of stress off of her.
“Being away from all the technology and the daily grind that we all go through . . . I get to be more present,” Lisa said.
Both Mike and Lisa are incredibly thankful for this experience. “There is a really great community of students and professors, with an amazing crew,” Lisa said, “They are some of the best people in the world.”
Although the voyage is coming to a close, the Derezin family looks back positively on their adventures in-country and on the ship. Mike encourages anyone who is able to be a part of the Lifelong Learner program to do so.
“Take that leap. If you want to live an extraordinary life, you have to make extraordinary decisions,” Mike said.