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Valuable members of the shipboard community provide mentorship to students


Sailing with Semester at Sea (SAS) is not limited to just college students. In fact, 14 members of the Fall 2016 voyage are retirees, professionals on leave, or are simply adventurous travelers, known as Lifelong Learners (LLL).

The LLL Program provides an inclusive opportunity for these individuals to participate in undergraduate courses, travel on In-Country Programs, conduct evening seminars in their areas of expertise and serve as mentors to the SAS shipboard community.

Craig Zimmerman, the LLL Program Coordinator, assists in facilitating group discussions, organizes social hours and activities, and promotes the mentorship between LLL and the student community.

“The Lifelong Learners all have a true love of traveling,” Zimmerman said. “They want to be in an academic environment. They want to continue to learn about different cultures and places, and they enjoy being with a younger generation.”

The cross-cultural education offered in Global Studies, a daily-required lecture series, and evening seminars are highlights of the program for David Bender, a LLL originally from San Diego. The Fall 2016 Voyage is his third voyage sailing as a lifelong learner.

“I like that we learn about each place beforehand,” Bender said. “The more you know about each culture, the more you get out of each port you visit. When you go home and people ask, ‘Did you see this and that?’ you’ll actually know what they’re talking about. You’re more than a tourist, you’re an explorer.”

Bender is sailing with his wife, Jean, for the semester. It is also her third voyage as a LLL. Their two daughters sailed on SAS as students in the 1990’s and then encouraged their parents to apply as LLL. He spoke highly of the positive experiences it has provided their family.

“Semester at Sea made our daughters travelers and it expanded their horizons,” Bender said. “Before, they were cautious. It’s the experience of a lifetime and the transformation of a lifetime.”

Their granddaughter, Ellie (a psychology major from Doane College) is also sailing on the fall voyage.

“I’m a homebody, so if ever I start to miss home, it’s nice that they’re around,” Ellie said.

One of the most cherished LLL/student programs is called the Extended Family Program.

Approximately 10 students are paired with each LLL, faculty, or staff member for monthly dinners on the ship and some voluntary in-port outings. These programs provide an opportunity for the students and LLL community to share their experiences with one another throughout the voyage.

To learn more about or apply for the LLL program, visit

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