Akhira Umar planting a tree on SAS

PACIFIC OCEAN—“I am not the person I was at the start of this voyage. I have grown tremendously, and it’s been a life-changing experience.”

Josh Misner, a professor from North Idaho College teaching on the fall 2019 Semester at Sea voyage, put into words what many other SASers have come to realize.

After visiting 11 countries and four continents, it’s easy to say that life can’t possibly be the same. For these voyagers, this experience has opened a new pair of eyes. From the chilly winds in Poland to the warm beaches in Costa Rica, these SASers have graduated from newbie tourists to veteran travelers.

Accumulating miles and passport stamps isn’t all these voyagers have been doing these past four months. With each port and each accompanying lesson, SASers have increased their reflectiveness of not only the world but of themselves as well.

“From this voyage I think that my ability to connect with people who are different from me has been enhanced and my global perspective has grown in the sense that I now can view cultures from their perspective versus viewing cultures from my own perspective,” said Justin Williamson, a senior from Babson College.

As a globe-trotting program, SAS has challenged its voyagers to think globally. No single problem is isolated to one country or one person. In this world of growing globalization, people are becoming increasingly interconnected. Grace Lucia Hudgens is one student who took this lesson to heart.

“I feel like I’ve just seen how systems of injustice are not isolated to where they are. I feel like I just saw a lot of rhyming around the world, and I feel like just having that connected view of what’s going on and then having ways to name that and recognize that actually makes me feel like there are ways to tackle it,” said Hudgens, a sophomore from Western Washington University.

Gaining international understanding and connections have helped these voyagers gain a diverse and empathetic outlook on life. SASers are learning that by helping to better the world, they are in turn learning to better themselves.

“By making new friends, meeting new people, internationally and on the ship, I’ve seen different perspectives, I’ve learned about different ways of life, and just that alone […] has contributed to me becoming more well-rounded as a person,” said Joslyn Sobek, a junior from John Carol University. “And I want to say that that’s what has made me become the new and improved version of me.”

As the voyage grows closer to its end, SAS voyagers also continue to grow and blossom as global citizens.

Akhira Umar is a UK journalism student and former Kernel lifestyle editor who recently completed a Semester at Sea and wrote a monthly column about her journey. Read her previous reflection here.