Blog Entry #58: Final Thoughts on Four Months at Semester at Sea… For Now
Monday, December 12, 2011
|Dan addressing the 350.org student group in Vietnam|
|Pat & Risa Shirade in Tokyo|
How to begin to sum up these four amazing months that Pat and I have spent circumnavigating the globe with Semester at Sea? There have been so many memorable experiences and critical issues that we will need to “process” in the weeks and months ahead. Yet perhaps ahead of all the amazing places we have been and seen, from the Taj Mahal to the Great Wall of China, it has been the people we have met along the way that most stand out for us. What follows are some of these people and the impact they have had on our lives and how we view the world. Many of them are the excellent guides we have had, who not only introduced us to their countries, but also opened themselves to us. Others are students and friends we had known before and met again in their home countries. Whatever the circumstances, we are grateful for they ways their lives and ours intersected, and we hope we will be able to continue to connect with many of them in the future.
|Dan & Pat with Mohamed|
|Mohamed Maachou & L'Haucine Ikiloumach|
|Stephen Kpogoh in Ghana|
|With Jackson (center) and his drumming buddies, Accra|
|Desmond Tutu speaking to students on the MV Explorer|
|With Isobel & John de Gruchy in Volmoed, South Africa|
|Morgan in the Rock Carvings in Mamallapuram, India|
|Dilip with stone carvings|
|Thiet & 350.org students in Ho Chi Minh City|
|With Huong at the Tea Ceremony|
|Vichet telling his family story about the Khmer Rouge genocide|
|With Vichet Preap in Phnom Penh|
|Dan with Man Cheong Tsoi|
|Eva in front of her Hong Kong home|
|Jenny Chan in Shenzhen at Foxconn Factory Zone|
|With Liu Fuchen at the 2008 Beijing Olympics venue|
|Risa Shirade with her mother, Makosa-san|
Most recently, returning to Costa Rica a week ago for a long-anticipated reunion with my old Costa Rican family brought rich time with friends Yusa Jarquín Jacob and Carlos Antonio Paniagua Jacob. Friendships that have now lasted nearly thirty years and the birth of a new generation, I hope we will be able to continue for many more years to come.
|Yusa & Carlos Antonio in Costa Rica|
The majority of our crew were from the Philippines, reflecting the fact that nearly 11 million Filipinos work outside the Philippines each year, sending home more than $10 billion each year to support their families, making the Philippines fourth in the world in the “remittance economy”, behind only China, India, and Mexico. Our crewmembers typically are on the ship for 8-month contracts, and then home for 2-3 months between contracts.
Much like global economy, the actual operations of our ship, the MV Explorer, were hidden from us, the privileged passengers. We had our laundry done for us and our bed linen changed every day, without ever seeing the laundry workers or facilities. All our meals were prepared for us, but we never saw the kitchen or the cooks. We lived in cozy but comfortable cabins, but never saw the living conditions of those who make the ship actually run. And all of this was fueled by burning fossil fuels, leaving a visible smoke trail every moment of the day and night, even as we worked with the students to study the effects of climate change, global warming, and sea level rise in each country we visited.
|Darwin & Dante at breakfast in Capetown|
|Yvonne in the ship store|
|Perry in the dining hall|
|Nancy & Guarda at the Purser's Desk|
|Lewis awaits our homecoming!|