A message for the second voyage of The Scholar Ship sailing in January 2008:
As we crossed the equator for the second time this semester, it is hard to believe that the students that are currently on the ship will disembark in less than 22 days and the new students for January 2008 will embark 9 days after that.
This journey has been one that has provided many of us more knowledge of who we are at our core in the reflection of how we interact and have shared unforgettable memories for the past 13 weeks.
I can assure all of you applying for January that your journey will be fulfilling as long as you come prepared to be proactive, to share your creativity and cultures and do so with respect and diligence.
As for many of us on board, we are bringing the experience to a close, we are trying hard not to say good bye and we have in fact made plans to see each other soon. It is impossible that after an experience as the one we embarked, that we would come out of it untouched, unchallenged and not inspired to take ownership of who we have become as better citizens of the world. This is of course a process that did not begin on embarkation, but that has been carried on all of our lives and it has been through the catalyst that TSS is, that we have an awareness now of our abilities, but more importantly of their reach and tangible impact that our leadership can now have with the bast network that we have established.
If there were 7 guiding principles that I could share with you for your voyage and you could iteratively apply them evenly on those 16 weeks, they would be the following:
I. Embrace - The Ship is more than the students that you may have already ‘met’ on facebook, there will also be faculty and staff that you should strive to interact with in more personal levels. Living with them 24/7 will provide you this unique opportunity and insight. You never know if they may become part of your network of professional colleagues, subject matter experts you may contact for your thesis or seek advice on internship opportunities, let alone long lasting friendships.
II. Explore - As you establish this relationships, do not forget the crew, they are an integral part of your experience as they cater to you on a daily basis through the meals you’ll have, the cabin you’ll live in and the many spaces that they will maintain for your usage. They are a crucial part of the voyage and I’d suggest that as you begin your journey, you establish positive relationships and even find venues to interact with them. (hint: Soccer is a very good way to do it).
III. Engage - You’ll have many different ‘circles’ of people you’ll interact with. Students in your learning circle, other learning circles; graduate students, undergraduate students; people that will join you on AFPs, shore excursions, independent travel, etc. Never forget that every day matters and perhaps one of the best abilities you will need to develop is time management.
IV. Experience - There is always something going on and you are an integral part of the voyage. Don’t even consider for a minute that you do not have an impact on activities, as your participation -or lack thereof- creates a precedent for activity planning. Allow yourself to be out of your comfort zone; reach out and discover other facets of your personality and character.
V. Enhance - Setting expectations can be a good thing as it brings a spirit, motivation and emotional outlook on your daily drive and stamina as you develop those “sea legs” (trust me, by week 10, you don’t feel the boat rocking at all..lol). There is no better chance to make your life on board better than by enhancing it, take the time -and personal leadership initiative- to enhance it. Actively participate or create new student organizations. Don’t be afraid of giving suggestions as early as you foresee positive impact on activities -or even problems ahead. If I may make an analogy: Even when you will see yourself surrounded by LOTS of water, there is a lot of clay that you’ll have a chance to form and reshape. The boat is an amazing sandbox that you and only you will define and decide what is done with it. Challenge yourself and your new friends in the process!
VI. Endure - There may be a natural tendency to participate in many activities on the ship, you should remember what your priorities are and never forget that at times, quality over quantity provides more memorable experiences. To endure is to be able to sustain a level of commitment to activities, but also most importantly to the relations you will be making. It is also paramount in the process of becoming an Alumni of TSS.
VII. Evolve - A natural opportunity of your time onboard is to raise the bar or take ideas to new levels. Take the time and live to those ideals, to evolve is to have the intrinsic ability of taking what is good and learning to leave behind what is not useful anymore; it is also a way of maturing and raising the value of the collective intellect. Never be afraid of bringing out your ideas and ideals.
In the next few weeks, we will all be packing, some of us leaving the ship and others coming to it. Many of us came to a clean slate and we took onto ourselves many of those 7 principles I just shared with you and, in the process, have had a definitive impact on what the experiences of the second voyage will be.
When you see the ship for the first time and when you board it for the first time, don’t forget that it is all in you to make the journey an unforgettable one.
We are all God’s debris.