BY GABI GEIGER
Hawaii Preparatory Academy
Semester at Sea is a maritime program, where students attend college for one semester at sea aboard the MV Explorer. This year Semester at Sea launched an annual program for high school students. Hawaii Preparatory Academy was one of four high schools selected to participate in the enrichment voyage from Dec. 15, 2010 to Jan. 4.
Six students from HPA — Max Barreto, Allexandria Blacksmith, Lauren Hanano, Maji Leander, Mikeala Owen, and I, along with our faculty advisors, Steven and Kristal Blacksmith — were privileged to participate and travel along the coast of Central America and through the Panama Canal. As students on the trip, we experienced something very different from any other trip. From community excursions, to orphanages, to immersing in the Spanish language and eating iguana, we had a memorable experience and learned while on the ship as well.
“Semester at Sea gave me a better sense of Central America and the opportunity to get to know people from different places and the people where I came from,” said Leander, a sophomore.
While on board, we attended a sociology class with about 30 college students from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Each day after we got back on the ship from our excursion on shore, we met on the ship’s sixth deck at the gathering place known as “the union.” We shared with the college students and participated in what they called “debriefing.” Each person related his/her experience to the class discussion and elaborated on what they felt needed to be done for the communities of people they had met with or seen.
Our main inspiration for class discussion was Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, who gave a lecture about society earlier on the voyage and who traveled with us and spoke exclusively with our high school group at one point. Archbishop Tutu’s discussion of the apartheid in South Africa was the push we all needed to do something for the people around us. Since returning to school we have taken it upon ourselves to start a club and raise money for the children in Central American countries who suffer due to the lack of substantial medical care and schooling.
Semester at Sea was an eye-opening experience that will continue to give us the motivation to look at the world as a whole and always think about ways of helping others.
“The most important lesson I learned on Semester at Sea was that we are all part of the human race so we should all help each other,” said Allexandria Blacksmith, a freshman. “If that means giving up a luxury like having the latest Wii game so others can eat, I feel it is worth it.”
Semester at Sea connected us with the people of the world, their lifestyles, culture, and universal voice that we all share under one sun.