For every Semester at Sea Voyager, the urge to share the experience of traveling the world with friends, family, and loved ones is powerful. As the Fall 2017 Voyage came to a close late last year, photos were being collected and shared, and voyagers were contemplating how to best relate the experience of spending over three months sailing, taking classes, and adventuring in-country.
Southern Connecticut University student Mia DiScipio had an additional task on her plate. DiScipio was participating in Semester at Sea‚Äôs Vicarious Voyage program, in which a Voyager adopts a group of elementary, middle, or high school students and shares their experience abroad with the classroom.
For DiScipio, who sent reflections back to five fourth-grade classes from her own elementary school and two high school sophomore classes, the program¬†was an opportunity to share information not just about the countries she visited, but what she has learned about traveling on the way.
‚ÄúThe way that I travel has changed a lot since I started Semester at Sea, and it‚Äôs not just traveling, it‚Äôs learning while you‚Äôre traveling,‚Äù DiScipio said. ‚ÄúI want people to know that traveling can be a learning opportunity, you don‚Äôt just have to go and have a vacation. There‚Äôs a lot to learn about the world.‚Äù
It just so happened that DiScipio‚Äôs fourth-grade students participated in a ‚ÄúDiversity Day‚Äù during the school year, where they learned about different cultures and countries. Students preparing for the program sent in questions for DiScipio to answer, and she tried to incorporate a mix of her own observations and the thoughts of locals she met while in-country.
‚ÄúI‚Äôll get questions from the whole class about a country and I usually wait until I‚Äôm back on the ship to answer them, and I try to ask people in-port to answer the questions,‚Äù DiScipio said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôll put pictures and captions together and go into detail about not only what I did during the day but what I learned,¬†too, because I want to teach them, not just give them a list of what I did.‚Äù
According to DiScipio, it is important that what she sends back is a combination of her own perspective and the thoughts and ideas of people she has met during her time with Semester at Sea. Because, as every Voyager aboard the MV World Odyssey¬†learns while taking the required Global Studies¬†course, it is far too easy to summarize a country or culture with a single story.¬†The real purpose of Semester at Sea, and what DiScipio hoped to relate to her students back home through the Vicarious Voyagers program, is a desire to see the world and become a global citizen.
‚ÄúI talked about what we learned on the ship about a single story, and how it‚Äôs important that we learn more than just that single story, and I wanted to let them know that what I tell them is my single story,‚Äù DiScipio said. ‚ÄúSo don‚Äôt let that be the only thing you take away. Go out and learn what you can.‚Äù
Interested in participating in Semester at Sea’s Vicarious Voyage program as a voyager or teacher? Resources can be found here.