Thursday, June 18, 2009
A Diverse Experience for All Aboard
This summer, the Semester at Sea voyage has one of the most diverse groups of students in the program’s history. That is due in part to the nearly two dozen Diversity Abroad scholars who have embarked on the SAS Summer 2009 voyage.
This is the second year the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), the parent organization of Semester at Sea, has awarded these diversity scholarships to students. The first scholarships were given for the Fall 2008 voyage.
ISE partnered with diversityabroad.com in the spring of 2008 after a chance meeting between SAS Director of Marketing, Cody Hartley, and Diversity Abroad founder, Andrew Gordon. The two men sketched out a plan for the partnership, shook hands on the agreement, and went to work on the program. The goal: to award merit-based scholarships primarily to students of color who show promise and interest in studying abroad. Ultimately, the intent is to increase access to Semester at Sea’s global educational opportunities for students from diverse and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
For Nexus Cook, a senior from Temple University, the experience has meant learning from people with very different perspectives than her own as well as experiencing people from other countries with different cultures.
“Even being on this trip for two days has already really opened my eyes to how differently how people think about and approach issues simply because they come from different parts of the country,” said Nexus. “I’m learning so much already and hopefully am teaching people things too.”
Diversity Abroad was created to increase the number of underrepresented students who study abroad. This year’s group of scholarship recipients is the largest number of students to participate in the program.
“We had planned to give out 10 scholarships for the summer voyage, but ISE expanded the program to award 22 scholarships to acknowledge the incredible pool of applicants,” said Hartley.
More than 50 applicants applied for the scholarships through ISE and Diversity Abroad. Participants were accepted based on review of their answers to the essay question: “Why is it important to me to study abroad with students from diverse backgrounds?” Each of the 22 students received partial scholarships for the voyage.
As part of their role as Diversity Abroad scholars on the voyage, the students will work on several projects to examine issues of diversity aboard the MV Explorer, within the SAS Summer 2009 program, at the ports and in the countries they visit, and provide suggestions on how to further improve the program.
“We can’t look outside the hull of the ship for diversity without first being able to find diversity within the ship,” said Dia Draper, assistant executive dean for the SAS Summer 2009 voyage. “I think it’s important to ISE that many different types of students get this experience in order to better reach diverse populations for the program. As an educational institution that’s the greatest gift we can give any of these future leaders.”
To learn more about the Diversity Abroad scholars, visit the Semester at Sea website where you can view their video essays and follow their blogs. Visit: www.semesteratsea.org/admission-and-aid/financial-aid-scholarships/diversityabroad-scholarship.php