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Who’s On Board? Meet Dorcas, our Tutu Ubuntu Scholar

The Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship is awarded to one voyager each semester, and Dorcas Shibhwaya is our Spring 2023 Voyage scholarship recipient. Dorcas is a kind student with a contagious smile who can often be found spreading positivity around the ship. As a fourth-year student studying mathematics and chemistry at a Catholic university in East Africa, Dorcas is passionate about helping others, specifically poor children in Africa. 

Dorcas is from a children’s home in Kibera slums, the largest urban slum of Africa located in Nairobi, Kenya. She said she was filled with excitement when a Semester at Sea alumnus who was volunteering at the home told stories from her own voyage. Dorcas immediately knew that Semester at Sea was something she wanted to do but was not initially sure how she would be able to.

“It’s just an honor, and I feel so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to get the Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship because, being from a slum, you have to depend on other people to even have an education,” said Dorcas. “It wouldn’t be possible for me to finance this voyage on my own.”

The Tutu Ubuntu Scholarship was created in the legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu to promote his message of forgiveness, empowerment, and peace, values that Dorcas feels are personally important to her. She says she incorporates peace and unity into her daily life while on the ship by talking to others and advocating for an inclusive environment. 

“We are from different racial communities and also different ethnicities, so I try to talk to people about how important it is to feel important, even if you are different from the other person, and also trying to just make them feel nice about themselves,” Dorcas reflects.

Dorcas went on to explain that in Kenya, people live as a community, and being a part of a community on Semester at Sea is something that she values. 

“People have not yet felt the goodness of the Kenyan community as a whole, and I think that is something they should look forward to as we visit Kenya because Kenyan people are so good.” 

During her time in port, Dorcas said she is looking forward to catching up with old friends, as well as spending time volunteering for a charity project whose name in Swahili translates to, “Do you need a hug?” The goal of this project is to have conversations and provide a shoulder for someone to lean on. 

Dorcas adds that she is excited to bring what she has already learned on the voyage back home. While her experiences as an international student while on Semester at Sea have already challenged her, she recognizes that growth can be uncomfortable and is grateful for the chance to learn about topics to which she is not normally exposed.

“I want to learn more about the different communities, especially those communities that are not talked about in Kenya, communities like the queer groups and the multicultural groups, as well as things specific to the local communities we are visiting,” said Dorcas. 

Dorcas described Semester at Sea as “an inclusive and safe space for everyone to be themselves and discover who they want to be.” She is grateful for Semester at Sea and for this scholarship for creating both an accessible and accepting opportunity and adds that “the MV World Odyssey is the place to be!”

Interested in your own journey of discovery? Learn more about our financial aid scholarships.

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