As we pulled into the port in San Diego, signs sprang up in the air reading, “welcome home,” “welcome back to the USA,” “get off the ship I’m out of money,” from friends and families waiting on the pier.
It was an adventure and on December 13 the MV Explorer docked in San Diego, California marking the end of our 108-day voyage around the world. Over 700 students, life-long learners, faculty and staff stepped off and greeted their loved ones.
On the pier in San Diego my mother and sister were waiting, but my small family has grown immensely over the past four months. I was never home sick because family was everywhere.
Many students who participate in Semester at Sea find home stays, one of the many field program options offered by SAS in each country, as an intrical part of their experience and understanding of each culture.
The last leg of our trip included spending Thanksgiving at sea. For those who celebrate the day it is a time for thanks and sharing with one’s family.
Students can sign-up at the beginning of the voyage to be a part of a shipboard family, in which a life long learner gets paired up with 3 – 6 students forming a family. I will never forget JoDee and Cooper my SAS mom and dad or my three sisters and one brother.
My family has grown to include members who have opened my eyes to a different way of life, and have shown me the kindness, and honesty that one usually only gets from their family.
My new extended family includes a Moroccan woman named Fatima who opened her home to my friends and I for an evening, made us diner, and shared secrets of what it’s like to be an Islamic woman. In Ghana a man gave us a free ride to an orphanage so that we wouldn’t have to walk in the pouring rain even though he was losing hours worth of work by doing so. We spent a day in a South African woman’s living room talking about the township she lives and works in. Also, my shipboard friends Maria, Anjali and Ashley, from India, Venezuela and Pennsylvania, were all there during sorrow, danger and laughter.
I now know, my family is all around the world.
Article published in Dec. 6 issue of Hometown Weekly Newspaper