A journey around the world; a semester at sea
Squire in front of the Taj Mahal in India as part of Semester at Sea.
By Lisa Nicklanovich; photos courtesy of Sydney Squire
Sydney Squire of Forest Park set sail in January for a journey that would last more than 100 days and take her to 13 countries. Squire is a nutrition major at the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley who attended a floating, globe-exploring university for a Semester at Sea (SAS) on a ship called the MV World Odyssey.
Approximately 600 students met in San Diego, California and then traveled to Mexico, Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), India, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and Germany. The students were required to take 12 university credits and had on-board classes, many of which focused on the cultures of the countries they would be visiting.
Since Squire is a nutrition major, the different foods in each country were an important part of the semester. Squire found it interesting that hot pho (noodle soup) was served all day in Vietnam, despite the high temperatures. In Ghana, the local village mothers made food for the students, which was often rice and beans, but surprisingly to Squire, avocados were part of many meals too. In South Africa and Morocco, Squire said the healthy and fresh ingredients were a welcome change. Of course in India, there was curry. Squire’s favorite of all the foods she tried was the fresh fish in Japan.
Sydney Squire of Forest Park with children from the Senase village in Ghana where Semester at Sea students volunteered. “The children loved taking pictures and having us write notes for them,” Squire said.
Above and beyond learning about how the food in each country plays a role in its culture and society, Squire had life-changing experiences. In Myanmar, students visited an elephant sanctuary and fed and bathed the elephants, which had been rescued from being used for labor or entertainment. Squire said, “Elephants are my favorite animal so it was amazing to see them roam free.” In Cape Town, South Africa, Squire traveled to a township to meet with leaders who are teaching HIV prevention and education.
Squire stayed in a home in Ghana and saw the impact one can make in just a couple of days. “We visited a school where we helped with the children and painted the area where they have assemblies. The children were so smart and willing to learn. I want to go back, volunteer and do more,” Squire said.
After disembarking from the ship, Squire traveled to the cities of Berlin, Paris, Barcelona and London. Seeing so many countries in such a short time provided the opportunity to notice the contrasts, but Squire found a common theme throughout the entire journey: kindness. “Everyone was so friendly in each country and even though we couldn’t speak the same language, people would try to help or find someone who could. Hearing another language being spoken all around me and knowing that no one could understand me opened my eyes to being more willing to help others.”
For more information, visit www.semesteratsea.org.