Semester at Sea reinstated

By Allison Mongan

Writer

The International Education Office is once again offering Semester at Sea as a valid choice for students wishing to study abroad after many requests from students and alumni. It is too late for students to apply for the fall voyage, but students will now be permitted to apply for the 2012 spring semester.

“I am extremely proud of Bucknell for listening to the voices of a few concerned alumni and students, revisiting this issue, and in my humble opinion, making the right decision” Lee Guzofski ’94, SAS F’93 said.

For the past five years the University of Virginia has been the sponsoring university of Semester at Sea (SAS) after they took over it from the University of Pittsburgh. SAS goes on two main voyages in the fall and spring to a variety of countries, many of which are third-world countries.

Last spring the International Education Office announced that SAS would not be offered as an option for studying abroad after this spring’s voyage due to credit transfer problems. Each department gets to individually decide if they are going to accept the credits from SAS, and some do not allow the transfer because the classes offered on the boat do not fit into the structure of typical University classes.

“Study abroad classes are supposed to be able to replace what you would have done on campus,” said Stephen Appiah-Padi, Director of International Education.

When the April 2010 article in The Bucknellian announced the end of Semester at Sea for the University, students and alumni quickly expressed their disappointment and started working toward the reinstatement of the program.

“Even after sailing 18 years ago, I have such an emotional connection to this program that it just felt wrong to sit back and do nothing,” Tara Lebda ’94, SAS F’92 said.

Lebda was one of the many alumni who were very involved in getting SAS reinstated. With the help of Guzofski, Lebda was able to get the University to reconsider its decision. The two alumni contacted Provost Mick Smyer and Mark Spiro, the chairman of the Committee on International Education, with a plea to have the decision reopened. With a second look at the request of Lebda, Guzofski and other University faculty and students, the Committee decided to overturn their original decision.

Semester at Sea offers a unique study abroad option where students are able to spend the semester on a ship.

“You are exposed to over 10 countries during one semester. You study about each country’s history, culture and language before you get to experience it first-hand,” Lebda said. Each student has a ship family and is given the opportunity to have the experience of a lifetime.

“I learned so much about the world and it is different learning about countries in class and then being able to see it in action. I saw how countries fit and work together and how my country fit too,” Patty Meegan ’12, SAS F’10 said.

Professors on the ship must have a deep understanding of not only their subjects but also how the subject ties into the various countries where the ship will dock throughout the semester, advocates of the program said.

“The only thing I will insist upon is that every child of mine is going on Semester at Sea. [That’s] non-negotiable,” Guzofski said.

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