Monday, January 12, 2015

Embarkation

I was somewhat emotionally exhausted as the voyage began, which was not ideal, but I was grateful more than any other emotion. I traveled from Virginia to Connecticut to San Diego to the MV Explorer, as if I was on a tour of my life, allowing me to reflect upon all that has led me to this present moment, my second voyage around the world with Semester at Sea. The transition to the Spring 2015 voyage was especially full-circle, as I spent a few hours of the first night on the MV Explorer with some of my friends from the Fall 2012 voyage. In a way I was able to connect the two voyages. I was not leaving Fall 2012 behind, but I was carrying the experience with me as I join the Spring 2015 shipboard community. My Fall 2012 friends' excitement for me, and their jealousy, helped me move from reflection to a readiness for a new experience, one in which many people would trade places with me in a second. The Spring 2015 voyage will be the last Semester at Sea voyage on the MV Explorer, a ship that has been home to tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff, dependents, lifelong learners, and crew members. To travel on any Semester at Sea voyage is unique enough, but to travel on the final voyage of the MV Explorer is an opportunity every single one of those tens of thousands of people would drop everything to have. How blessed and grateful I am to be here. Slowing down and being present did not come easy. The first few days were a blur of activity, exhausting in a different way, with orientation meetings and preparations. After leaving San Diego and sailing to Ensenada, the students boarded and the excitement truly began. The students bring a welcome energy to the ship and a way to see the experience through new eyes. I remember standing on the observation deck after the sun had set and most of the observers left. Above the horizon, a darker orange than the sunset had offered began to glow, lighting up the sky in a subtle shade of purple. The ocean offered an expansive view of nothing but water, with no land in sight, and a different dimension of seeing as we floated above the ocean with grace. Two students came up from behind me and immediately let out shrieks of wonder and awe at what they were seeing, as they had not yet been to the observation deck for a sunset. How unique and rewarding to be a part of the meaningful and eye-opening experiences these students will continuously have. How unique and rewarding to feel the same as them. I often don’t have words to describe what I am experiencing. I’m shrieking in wonder and awe as much as they are. We are indeed lucky little bunnies to have the opportunity to visit 12 countries and 15 cities and broaden our perspective and understanding of the world, while living on a ship and sharing the experience with each other. I’m starting to feel comfortable back at sea. When I stare out at the ocean from a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with no land in sight, I feel like my soul is reconnecting with a part of itself it has sorely missed. Living on the ocean for four months during a Semester at Sea voyage is difficult to explain. This is not a cruise, in any way. Describing the experience as a voyage is not simply a marketing technique. We become a community and the ship becomes a home. We view the ever-changing ocean away from the comfort of land. We explore places we have never been to before. We are on a journey. I’m happy to be home at sea on the MV Explorer. I also miss my family and friends and my many homes through the years, all of which I visited in a matter of days, but right now, I’m here. I’m home.       

1 comment:

  1. Your words are as graceful as the ship on the sea.

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