15.01.2013 - 16.01.2013 80 °F
It is day 12 of an epic voyage around the world. How do I feel? My emotions are mixed; I feel loved, hated, excited, anxious, happy, angry, sleepy, but most of all grateful. These feelings are no different than what I experience at home, except that I am even more grateful and privileged to be seeing and learning so many things while traveling the world. I am grateful for my friends and family back at home giving me support, grateful for the friends I have made on this voyage, the amount of involvement, the young and eager minds that surround me, to have food, water and shelter, every day. There are so many things that I am grateful for, and even more so because I have witnessed peoples around the world that do not have what I do. This is my goal in life though. How can I help to provide these basic needs for everyone I encounter? This voyage will be an immense learning experience for me, and hopefully, another great opportunity for me to form ideas, with the help from my peers, to form an organization with a main goal of helping others help themselves, help the environment, and help the economy. I seem to be very anti-Capitalist, however, to live in this world, one does need money. That is just how the world operates now, and I fear there is no turning back. So instead of hating the economic policies of other countries or our own, I want to embrace what we do have and help change the policies so that things are, in my mind, more fair and equal. This not only applies to economics, but needs to apply to the people, environment, and the industry. Because of a class that I took last semester at Colorado State, as well as those on my last SAS voyage, it is hard for me to not look at everything in terms of these four aspects, especially in regard to tourism. As I travel the world this time, I know to go in with an open-mind, be respectful, and save my judgments for later. When I think about this organization and career for my future, I will be thinking about the industry, economy, people(culture), and the environment.
On that note, we have left Hawaii! It was a great first port for this incredible journey. I was worried that because I am traveling the opposite way, from modern to developing countries, that it would be hard for me and the other students to understand what we are witnessing. This is not the case, instead, it only reinforces my ideas and helps bring in new ones. This time around we stayed the night in Hilo, therefore, I was able to experience a lot more and see a completely different part of the island. To keep it short about the travels, since we were only there for two days, I ate great food from the farmer’s market, hiked to Rainbow Falls, shopped for snacks while on the ship, met with my friend Kadian from the last voyage, and got to show around my new friends Shelley, Andrew, Lauren and Jillian. They are all great kids, and very willing to experience new things, just the type of people I like to travel with! My favorite part of the stay there though was when I walked by myself to Coconut Island and the Japanese gardens. I finally got the time I needed to myself. There was this beautiful area with boulders where I sat and meditated for a couple hours. It was just what I needed, peace, serene landscape, and an opportunity to relieve myself from the stress of travel. As I sat there drinking one of my favorite beers, Big Wave Golden Ale by Kona Brewing Co., I thought about what this voyage has in store for me, and most importantly how different I am going to be when it ends and I return home.
One of the most drastic changes in my life occurred on my SAS voyage last spring. I recall the fear of leaving home, really for the first time, alone. It was terrifying to me, but of course, it was all for the better. I essentially look at me back then, how angry I was, how judgmental, ignorant, unappreciative, and uncaring I must have been. Then I met some of the best friends in this entire voyage. All of those barriers were broken down, and although I will never truly get rid of my past, I can learn from it. That is why I came into this voyage with a huge smile, not scared, but confident. I will always be ignorant, we all are to one thing or another, it is an inevitable part of being a human. Not a single person on this Earth is perfect and knows it all, and if you disagree with me, I would love to have a conversation about it when I return home. I believe it is because my barriers were broken that I am enjoying this voyage so much, and in my opinion, has completely blown the other out of the water. It seems to me that all of the students on this voyage are exceptionally nice and awesome. Cliques have not formed, everyone smiles and says hello to each other, and rumors are not spreading like wildfire. With the exception of a few students, this trip is AMAZING!
At times I have been irritated because of the lack of understanding from other students while we are traveling. I have to pull myself back though, and remember, I was in their shoes only a year ago. It helps bring everything back to perspective and makes me feel so happy to see just how curious, stressed, anxious, and scared the students are as we talk about the ports we will be exploring. There is so much I want to tell them, but this voyage is a learning experience, and if it does not deal with their safety, I would rather them find out for themselves what is out there on this glorious planet. My frustration only comes through when we all get on the topic of alcohol. This is something very serious to me. When students tell me that all they want to do is party and drink in the ports, I get worried. I have witnessed first-hand the consequences of making bad choices, all because someone was under the influence. My best wish is that these students will not have to go through traumatic experiences as did with my best friend. I found out that while we were in Hilo, many students went to this hotel and completely trashed it, and then went to a local nightclub and had ID’s taken away because of underage drinking. There were so many arguments about the incident. Students were trying to defend themselves, in one way or another. Well, when we had a harsh lecture by our Executive Dean, I believe the message got across. The students do not realize how lucky they were that they were not arrested, and that this voyage would have been over for them. $22+ thousand, simply down the drain. These students were on surveillance, and the Deans on the ship, know exactly who was involved. Lucky for these students, the manager did not ask for the police to arrest on site. They were underage, it does not matter where you are, but you absolutely must obey the laws, especially when we are visiting other countries whose policies are much stricter for the laws broken and behavior that was witnessed. I feel the worst outcome of all of this is that the locals in Hilo now have a horrible perception of Semester at Sea. It is sad that the actions of a few will, and do, speak for the entire community. Had this happened anywhere else, the voyage would have been over for well over 60 students and Semester at Sea would have time building a good reputation. This really is the most incredible journey, and for most, once in a lifetime. Why would you want to fuck it up? I have no idea. As we go into these other ports, the Dean has made it clear that he has called the hotels where students have already planned parties, and told the managers, “arrest at your leisure.” Maybe in a few weeks I will be writing about friends I have lost because of the poor choices they made….
On a lighter note, I am still meeting many new friends, learning something new everyday, and growing immensely. All I want to talk about is what is racing through my mind, but I promise for posts following it will be more about what I experience in these ports, and less on what others are doing. We have an 8 day stretch to Japan, I will arrive on January 27th, so I look forward to writing to this amazing audience then. I am sending my love and peace. May everything at home be wonderful, and I encourage you to keep your mind open, attempt to learn something new. Life is precious and don’t let anything be wasted.