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Shipboard Interview with Kailani Swenson

By Ryan Harper

      Upon interruption of a peacefully quiet and solitary moment atop deck seven at the front of the ship, Kailani Swenson was surprisingly more than willing to help me to better understand what made the voyage of discovery known as Semester at Sea, such a perfect match for her. Described as the ideal mix of education, experience and cultural awakening, the concept of SAS seemed to bring a gleam of excitement and anticipation to a more than eager young Kailani's face.
       Having had somewhat of an extensive last summer of travel around London, Spain and Portugal, Kailani expressed her desire to attend SAS as a way of not only obtaining exposure to many countries in a short amount of time, but also as a medium from which she hopes to highten her sence of personal enlightenment through multiple self-finding quests. She described the opportunity as an outlet in which she can participate in friendly interaction not only with students from all over the United States, but also with worldly peoples and cultures unbeknownst to her.
       However, such an opportunity did not arise in much of an easy manner for Kailani, a perspective that I personally, can very much sympathize with. Arranging such a voyage included months of preparation with regard to funds acquisition and constant contact with the program coordinators and parents alike, all of which was necessary to ensure her departure on the MV Explorer this last August. Communication with the sponsor of the voyage- the University of Virginia, Kailani's home institution- the University of Oregon, and the Institute for Shipboard Education was a large component of a difficult struggle to arrange loans and financial aid for a notably expensive trip around the world.
       Along with working hard through the summer to obtain spending money, Kailani commented on the large amount of self-preparation that took place for weeks before her bon voyage in order to assure that she was fully ready to take complete advantage of the experience and the cultural exposure that was to come along with it. With hopes of having to adjust to uncomfortable new surroundings in an effort to follow the path of experience proceeded by worthwile reflection, she hopes to interact with as many new people as possible, all the while learning and listening, in a sincere attempt to gain a better appreciation of global diversity.

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