The 107th voyage of the Semester at Sea study abroad program embarked from Montreal at 1700 hours local time today.¬† Waving and cheering, families and friends were at the port to send off the MV Explorer. ¬†Many participants enjoyed their first dinner on the outdoor decks of their new floating campus.¬† The first gathering of the over 600 students, faculty, staff and Lifelong Learners featured introductions and speeches from the Fall 2011 Executive and Academic Deans.¬† Captain Jeremy Kingston, MNI, master of the ship for our voyage, made an appearance to welcome the community and discuss how to most effectively live aboard a ship.¬† The remarks of Jill Wright, Fall 2011 Executive Dean and Mark Thomas, Fall 2011 Academic Dean, explained the global education each participant embarked upon this evening.
‚ÄúThe world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.‚Äù ‚Äì Saint Augustine
Dean Wright opened her speech with this quote.¬† While the connection to Semester at Sea is clear, every member of the community could sense that we were only turning the first page.
Dean Thomas explained to the students that this is not an academic program about just showing up.¬† The living-learning environment among Lifelong Learners, faculty, staff and students, as well as the programs in port, make Semester at Sea a unique opportunity to go beyond the typical learning experience and gain more. ‚ÄúIn ports we do not leave the classroom behind, and in the classroom we do not leave the ports behind.‚Äù
Dean Wright encouraged flexibility, openness, understanding and respect as the principles that will best guide us through this journey.¬† She encouraged students to be responsible members of the shipboard community and the environments we encounter, to give back to those we meet and to be open to the opportunities this voyage will present.
Dean Thomas closed the Deans‚Äô remarks with a wonderful reminder of the true purpose of the program. ¬†Semester at Sea is about gaining a truly global education, but that does not mean it is about collecting passport stamps.¬† He advised participants, ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt collect, experience.¬† Don‚Äôt take, but share.‚Äù
As the students went off to learn their way around the MV Explorer (and hopefully learn military time before 1300 hours tomorrow) the ship was buzzing with the excitement of turning this first page.