Semester at Sea Fall 2006 Voyagebanner


Open Letter

By Wren Chan

To Future Participants of Semester at Sea,

           This voyage meant a lot to me and perhaps changed my life like the others onboard. We came out of our protective bubbles at home to see a world that is both similar and different than ours. It was truly a voyage of discovery. There were things that I regretted not doing during the voyage and perhaps this regret will follow me for the rest of my life. What I regretted the most is not spending as much time as I wanted with the people. The inanimate monuments and structures often are distractions from what we should be focusing on, the people. A tour and a vacation to the Pyramids can be arranged anytime but people move, change and eventually die. History and current events are determined by people not monuments. Therefore the first advice I would give to future participants is to interact with the people more often.

           Among the things that I can see clearly through my experiences with Semester at Sea is that life is a paradox, we must simultaneously look to the past for guidance and the future for purpose. The present is when we must act. We are both significant and insignificant. Insignificant in that we are one in billions and our lives are short so that in time, our very existence may be doubted by people in the future. We are however significant in that our actions have ramifications that could change the world. Our actions tie the distant past with the distant future. Semester at Sea is a rare opportunity in which is is necessary to explore and go beyond your limits.

           The memories of the times spent in the different ports is enough to look back at for a lifetime. Getting lost in the middle of Japan. Meeting family members for the first time in 13 years. Bargaining for the first time in Vietnam. Observing people that are genuine and simple living under a military dictatorship. Getting ripped off in India. Seeing the sheer poverty in India yet unable to do anything. Backpacking through Egypt for 4 days. Seeing the Pyramids of Giza. Riding a camel. Almost getting into a scam. Getting thrown out of a bar. Climbing a steep hill in Dubrovnik and watching the sunset. Running out of Euros in Spain on a Sunday. Pretending to be a resident at a hostel to use the internet. Semester at Sea is a learning experience and a challenge. It helps at times to be without plans and proceed randomly. Often the most genuine experiences are those that are random.


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