The UN had 554 new pairs of eyes and ears this spring as Semester at Sea’s ship sailed around the globe, visiting 12 countries from January through May 2014. As a co-curricular activity in the study abroad program, the first ever on-board UNA-USA campus chapter is empowered undergraduate students to take an up-close look at the results of the Millennium Development Goals and to brainstorm solutions to ending poverty within their generation.
While most college students study from a classroom at a college or university,Semester at Sea’s Spring 2014 voyage leveraged their mobile campus to add voices to the post-2015 conversation. Starting in Mexico and finishing in London, with stops in Asia and Africa, they utilized UNDP’s MyWorld 2015 initiative to prioritize today’s most pressing development issues. Their ongoing field research will culminated with an additional session of UNA-USA’s civil society consultations to recommend a new framework for global development. They also participated in Model UN while sailing between ports.
When I visited the MV Explorer (Semester at Sea’s passenger ship that circumnavigates the globe twice a year, complete with classrooms, a student union, and a library), the enthusiasm of the students, faculty, staff, and crew was palpable. Their journey to greet their counterparts—the largest generation of youth in history—through 16 global cities had just begun. Questions like, “What is life like for young people in Burma? How does the World Bank make an impact in Ghana? How do gender roles affect women in Morocco?” were to be answered in the coming 112 days of their voyage.
Monika Johnson, GenUN