Subject: RE:Semester at Sea return
SEMESTER AT SEA

Many of you have asked for a travelogue of Semester at Sea and I am at a loss to do so as this has been truly an experience that may not be for everyone as it was surely not a vacation; nor was it a trip, Consequently, this is what I came up with to help illuminate these past four months for which we have planned and saved for more than two years.

The Voyage is truly a Semester at Sea experience, combining education with world awareness. We have had several emails from students who became close to us during that long time. They are having a hard time re-entering the normal world at home, as are we, as well. The students experienced a deep infusion into these countries by working in hospitals, schools, orphanages, dealing with the beggars, putting up tents and digging ditches in areas of earthquake torn Turkey, manipulating the mysteries of the transportation systems, collecting souvenirs, and sharing pictures. It is not the Peace Corps or any other such program. Most of the students came from rich families and the others were work-study students or had earned their own money for this Voyage, and it was not cheap.

This has been a sobering, bonding, and extraordinary experience for the Senior Adults (33 of us), Faculty, their families, and staff, (about 60 of these) and the 600+ students attending classes onboard the ship. The on shore ports, lasting from 4-5 days, were spent becoming a part of the various countries--as much as possible in such a short time. The students did a terrific job of integrating their lives into those of the natives--much more so than the Senior Adults, to be sure.

The stats and other interesting info is at http://www.semesteratsea.com , the official site by the University of Pittsburgh, the sponsor of the program. Another website of interest is that of one of the professors on this trip and found at http://www.pitt.edu/~atsea

*****WE WILL NEVER FORGET*****

Leaving the dock in Vancouver with all the parents left behind on the dock, watching until they could see us no more

Being on site with Charles Tsai (CNN) as he and David Timkin filmed this Millenium Voyage and being privileged to see it in its unfinished parts as well as what is being shown on CNN even now

*****JAPAN

Arriving in Japan to a very warm welcome both on shore and on the ship, as well

The very young children's band in the shopping street in Kobe, Japan, never missing a beat

The obvious smallness of that country

The friendliness, patience, deliberateness, and the ritual of the people

The opening of the department store with its Small World clock and the staid attention of the clerks at the counters for the first 5 minutes

*****CHINA

The smog which overwhelmed us in X'ian as well as Beijing

The cots in tents, the shacks in the fields, for the people, where the crops were grown

The pride of the parents in their only child

The little girl who removed her gum before Ray took her picture

The grandeur of the Forbidden City

The bicycles -- millions of them

China Airlines

*****VIETNAM

The traffic

The cyclo ride to find the Internet-after dark, and on streets we had never walked before

The Rex Hotel

The motorcycle drivers wearing masks to protect themselves from dust and dirt and smog

The women driving motorcycles wearing the masks and gloves

The children selling anything for a dollar

The wonderful welcome we received from these people

The silk screen products and our magnificent purchases

The reaction of the students to the Vietnam they never knew before

*****CAMBODIA

The utter poverty, until we passed a place even worse that the guide called a slum

The rickety scow that took us to see the Mekong River

The beauty of the King's Palace

The ruins of Angkor Wat

The Killing Fields and the barracks where the tortures were held

The barbershops in a shelter along side of the road

*****MALAYSIA

The traffic where you had to walk upstream to cross the street

The thanks in the eyes of the students to whom we gave our tickets for the Cameron Highlands

The cooking on the sidewalks

The bicycles and scooters parking on the sidewalk

The deep holes unexpectedly found in the sidewalks

Sharing the streets with the traffic

Being on foot in a traffic jam with taxis, cyclos, busses, bicycles and no where to go

*****INDIA

The traffic, the traffic, the traffic

Being unable to cross any street at any time

The mothers with their children, begging for money

The ravage of disease

Even more horrendous poverty

Carefully picking our way through the families sleeping on the streets both at night and in the pre-dawn at the railway station

The River Ganges at dawn with its cleansing rituals

Varanasi, with its multitudes of people waiting to die in this holy city

The crematoriums and the piles of wood and the smoke coming from the biers near the river.

The lighted candles floating in the Ganges

People with leprosy

The first class ??? trains

The fancy hotel in Delhi and its dilapidated counterpart in Varanasi

The wonderful food we could eat and the tempting food we could not eat

*****EGYPT

The sound and light show in the Pyramids

The unfinished houses along the highways

The City of the Dead where the homeless lived in the cemeteries

The contrast to all of this in the Marriott in Cairo

The 700 of us in 18 busses with their armed guards returning to board the ship even before it docked from going through the Suez Canal

*****TURKEY

The utter joy at being back in Istanbul

The magnificence of Sultanahmet

The haircuts we both desperately needed

Seeing the Whirling Dervishes and learning their beliefs

Finding the painting of the Dervishes we have wanted for the house for 5 years

Finding the Eye of the Nightingale glass again

Sitting in St. George's Watch, on the ship at night, and seeing the silhouettes of the Mosques adorning the evening sky

*****CROATIA

Our inter port lecturer who loved her country with a fierce determination to see its return to its former glory

Returning to Dubrovnik after 27 years and seeing that most of the war damage had been repaired

Our taxi driver who took us places we did not know to request

The generosity of the University letting us use their computers free

Korkula, and the fabulous Dalmatian Coast

Good food and wine

*****ITALY

The magnificence of the Amalfi coast,

Raffaele, our constant companion (and taxi driver)

The Isle of Capri

The Hotel Bristol with its view of the Bay of Naples and its menu with no prices

The last meal in Naples ordered by Raffaele

Being tourists for 3 whole days

*****MOROCCO

The excellent guide

The terrain, the orange trees bearing fruit, the herds of camels, the fruit stands, the homes with no electricity or telephones

The Souks in Essouiara and Marrakech

The loving touch/gesture by a young Moroccan girl under the chin of 3 year old Ian, a faculty son

The young child who was destined to grow up with problems and his mother who probably was not aware of them.

*****WE WILL MISS*****

Seeing people we know on the streets of every country we have visited

Our adopted grandchildren with whom we have developed a loving relationship

Our other students who adopted us and joined our family

The Great White Mother, the S.S. Universe Explorer

*****WE LOOK FORWARD TO*****

Being home and being with our family

Seeing the parents waiting on the docks of Miami

Sharing our experiences with those of you who lived each of these 105 days along with us

Mail and pictures from those whom we have grown to love on this fantastic Journey

Finishing the Goodbyes, Goodbyes that you have not yet seen which will reflect more of ourselves as we review this Journey, a Voyage of a lifetime

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