September 21st, 2005

It’s so easy to lose track of days while we’re at sea. I keep meaning to write in my journal every day but it never seems to work out! Anyway, the day before yesterday we had Community College in the evening. The Global Nomads Group showed their documentary about Rwanda. I forgot what it was called but it was excellent. I also found out some more about Global Nomads itself. It’s basically a bunch of guys who started this non-profit group after college. They are based out of NYC and what they do is set up satellite meetings between schools in US and schools in other countries to foster communication and understanding between youth. They are on our voyage because they are doing this with schools in each of the countries. Their one constant school is an elementary school in Magnolia, Texas (40 miles outside of Houston). I think it’s an amazing project and I really want to get more involved in it when I get back. They are also trying to set something up in India, kind of like a town hall meeting I think. The topic will be HIV/AIDS. Ok so after that there was a big karaoke night! I didn’t sing but I did videotape haha. It was a lot of fun. Some people had such amazing voices…there were also some really entertaining performances (Drop it Like it’s Hot and YMCA). haha i wish i had pictures, but taking my video camera was a much better idea. So it was a pretty chill day. We finally played the Candy Land and Clue that were sitting in my room. I hadn’t played Candy Land in SO long. After karaoke we watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and fell asleep. We were nicely awakened around 8am to the sound of drumming and loud knocks on our door. Neptune Day had arrived. We actually crossed the equator last week but we had a global studies exam the next day so the rituals were postponed. We were so grumpy when they woke us up so we stayed in bed for awhile. They came on the loud speaker a little while later singing some song about pollywogs- Jed does an excellent imitation. We finally decided to go upstairs and join in the festivities. We got up there and people were already finished so we went down, changed into our bathing suits and ran back upstairs. We got in line and then one by one stood in the shallow part of the pool while a foul-smelling concoction of “fish guts” (really it was just soy milk, oatmeal, and bisquick or something) was poured over us. We then jumped in the pool, swam to the other side where we had to kiss a dead fish before climbing out. The last thing we had to do was kiss King Neptune’s (our captain painted in green war paint) ring.

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On my way to becoming a shellback. That stuff that they were pouring on us was absolutely disgusting.

After all that was over some people got their heads shaved (it’s an old Navy tradition for equator crossing). A fair number of girls got their heads shaved and donated it to Locks of Love. I was thinking about doing it…but I’m not comfortable enough with my image as it is. It’s terrible but true. 😦

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Mark, me, Rob (just thought I would put this picture up because I got an email from Rob’s mom so I thought she might want to see a picture of her son :-))
PB people- doesn’t Mark look EXACTLY like Garrett? I think so at least. Maybe not so much in the picture but in person it’s such an uncanny resembelence.

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Me and Executive Dean John Tymitz ( who sang us Margaritaville on karaoke night)

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Me and Glenn after he shaved his head…sort of. They told him he had good mohawk hair. I agree!

The rest of the day was fun, really chill actually. Our first day OFF since we boarded. To everyone at home: I know it seems like we’re on vacation, but the truth is it can get pretty hectic. Imagine having class every single day while you are at sea and then you have 5 busy days in port. There are no weekends and therefore no time to catch up on work. You have to stay on top of your work otherwise you’ll be stuck doing it while you’re in port. Anyways, after showering and trying to get the smell out of my hair Pete, me, Rafi, Shane, and Jed watched their new Britney Spears DVD in our room. haha it was hilarious. As trashy as she can be sometimes I have to admit that she’s an amazing performer. I wish I could dance like her. Ooh you want to know the best part of the day? Tacos at lunch. We were so excited…it was kinda pathetic. Carrie and I keep talking about how satisfying it was. Especially for vegetarians! We just hung around some more after lunch and played Pit. The waves were crazy high today and I couldn’t even eat dinner because I was feeling so nauseous. Ugh. I don’t even remember the rest of the night. All I know is that I finally put the seasickness patch behind my ear. I caved. haha I think it’s working though. Either that or the seas are much calmer. Oh well. Luckily I didn’t react too terribly to the patch…just some drowsiness and dry mouth. It’s fine now though. The next day there was a second Global Nomads community college. This one was about the situation in Darfur. It made me so upset the other day when they announced that their next community college was about Darfur, so many people had confused looks on their faces. I definitely don’t know as much about Darfur as I want to but I have a VERY basic idea of what’s going on. I know I sound obnoxious right now. But the whole ordeal reminded me of a quote I read after watching Hotel Rwanda. It was something about whether 10 years from now we’ll be watching a heart-wrenching documentary about Sudan and wondering why we didn’t do anything to help. The most frustrating part is that I don’t even know what to do. I don’t know how I could contribute or how I can make a difference. That’s why organizations like Global Nomads appeal to me so much. They really get to the heart of the problem and try and raise awareness about it. I feel so selfish sitting on this ship and paying so much money for this trip while the money could be allocated elsewhere and make more of a difference. Distribution of wealth. Ugh I just don’t know. Time to quote Casey’s card.

“Well you’re on your way towards another AMAZING traveling experience. Just remember though, when you see things and hear about things that make you feel guilty for growing up in the US with all the privelges we have here it’s not your job to feel guilty. More so you should be grateful to have had such experiences and do your best to raise awareness and maybe in the future to make some changes. I’m sure you already knew all of that but just making sure you don’t go through the entire trip feeling bad.”

Casey- I love you soo much. Hope you’re reading this. πŸ™‚

Anyways, back on the track. They gave a quick explanation of the situation and then recounted their trip to a refugee camp in Sudan. I realy think their work is incredible and I definitely want to get more involved when I get back. Their videos and just the way they talk about their work is so inspiring. After Global Nomads we met again for Vicarious Voyage. We finally got all our stuff together and put it in the mailer. I hope we get their letters in South Africa. We started watching Bring it On last night but I have no attention span for movies so we went to snack time and then to Lindsay and Drea’s room for some quality girl time. πŸ™‚ so much better than tea time. haha anyways, I’m really rude and even if there’s people in my room I fall asleep. that’s what i did last night and probably the night before too. haha it’s just so hard to catch up on sleep when we have to advance our clocks 1 hour almost every night! 5 times until we get to south Africa. Eeks.

September 22nd, 2005

Global Studies was actually really interesting today. K Murph was talking about apartheid, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s role in it. I actually stayed awake the whole time. πŸ™‚ After my classes I met with Chris from GN and we talked about the MTVU project in India. I think it will turn out really well. After lunch I did some work and then played around with Windows Media Player. I tried to make my video footage more exciting with captions and such. I LOVE my new video camera. I really need to start using it more. Anyways, dinner was terrible today. Haha just thought I’d share. Jed and I had a GN blogging meeting at 7:30 and then another community college at 8pm. This one was about Iraq and how they set up two teleconferences with a school in CT and a school in Baghdad. The first one was two weeks before the war and the second one was six weeks after the war had started. It was so weird because I recognized one of the kids from the FUSYE orientation that I volunteered at a couple years ago. I think his name was Alex. I remember him telling me about it before but I never actually saw the documentary. What a coincidence. I had to leave a little early because I wanted to go to the Hip Hop dance lessons at 8pm. There were too many people there and the room was way too small so we just passed around a sign-up-sheet and decided to break the group up by skill levels and set up different meeting times. It worked out well because the hip hop class was overlapping the salsa lessons tonight. It was fun but there were so many more girls than there were guys. Guys are a hot commodity during salsa lessons…

Right now I’m just sitting in my room with Shane and Ashish and updating my journal when I really should be writing a paper. Oh well. πŸ™‚
Oh yeah, my email isn’t working very well right now so it might take me extra long to reply.

In conclusion, I need to buy a planner in South Africa. I’m going crazy trying to remember all these things. Tomorrow we get to hear Desmond Tutu speak in the afternoon. I am SO excited. I think we have our first actual hip hop class tomorrow too. Excellent. πŸ™‚ I love meeting new people. I just met a guy named Brandon from Alabama. He goes to Fiske- it’s an HBC. I’ve heard of it but I can’t remember where or when. He came over to see the video I had of their AMAZING Drop it Like it’s Hot performance at Karaoke night. I burned it for him on a CD and we were all talking while it was finishing. It’s so awesome that even though we’re 1/4 the way done with our trip (how depressing is that…) we can still meet new people. I love it. It seriously makes my day. I can’t believe how fast this trip is going. I don’t want it to end. I feel like I’ve learned so much already but I do. n’t know how to explain it. Ok time for bed. Thank goodness we don’t have to advance our clocks tonight. I have an 8am tomorrow- I need all the sleep I can get!

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Me and Shane after the Welcome Reception. Ross- Shane says hello πŸ™‚

September 23rd, 2005
I’m in Phil. and Film right now taking notes about Amandla! (yeah there’s an exclamation mark at the end) and once I started writing I couldn’t stop! Anyways, Amandla! is a beautiful film. You should really watch it. It chronicles the struggle to end apartheid but through music. It was so well done and we learned not only about South African music but their fight for freedom as well. I feel so ignorant for not knowing this before. My knowledge of apartheid came from watching the movie Gandhi a few years back. Maybe we talked about it briefly in school but it blows my mind that we never discussed it thoroughly. It wasn’t even history yet. Apartheid ended in 1994- we were still in elementary school. Maybe we were too young to learn about it but how come it was never mentioned again? I can’t believe how much we don’t learn in school. It makes me wonder what we did learn because none of it seems to stick out in my mind. I can keep listing all the things we never learned about but I just realized that my ignorance is my fault. I should have taken the initiative to learn about these things. I wish I had started reading the newspaper at a younger age. That is one thing I will definitely force my kids to do. I know Mom- you tried to get us to do that but somehow we evaded it and didn’t pick it up until later. Being on this ship makes me feel like I was so sheltered at home. Not only do we learn about the atrocities that have occurred all around the world but the rich culture as well. I guess it’s a good a time as any to start. I can’t explain how beneficial this trip has been to me thus far, but I will admit that it will definitely be a challenge NOT to fall back into my old routine. Me, Rob, and Natalie were talking today and saying the same thing. It’s going to be so hard to go home. There are so many things that are important to us now that never even crossed our minds before. We’ve only been to 2 countries and we already feel like changed people. Changed how? I don’t even know but it’s evident that something inside of us has changed. I feel like I have acquired a new love for life, a genuine appreciation for all that we have and an intrinsic motivation to do something, anything to help improve the conditions of the world’s impoverished. Maybe we were blessed with good fortune and financial stability so we could afford to help out elsewhere.

Music is such a powerful entity. This movie proves this point many times over. I’ve always felt like music controls us more than we want to admit. Turn on your mp3 player, put on your headphones, play a feel-good song and immediately you are transported to a happier place. Some songs I listen to because they remind me of home or of India or of pat experiences. You know what track makes me really happy? Raas Chaos 2004 mix!!! πŸ™‚

Desmond Tutu’s speech today was so inspiring. He is such an amazing person. Some background: he won the Nobel Peace prize and headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa among MANY other things. Today we just had a Q + A session with him and tomorrow he’s speaking in Global Studies. It was pretty informal so me, Amy, Tanya, Ted, and Liz were sitting on the floor of the union right at his feet. Seriously I was sitting 2 feet away from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I was beside myself with excitement. I’m not going to pretend like I knew a lot about him before SAS but I had only heard a little bit about him. Ever since we got an email from SAS saying that he would be joining us on our voyage I started reading up about him. I meant to buy his book before I left but I didn’t get a chance to. I definitely want to buy it in South Africa or when I get back. Along with the Amandla! soundtrack. Anyways, the 3 interesting questions I do remember from this afternoon were about his courtship with his wife, his opinion on Myanmar, and his views on homosexuality. Him and his wife were so adorable and obviously very much in love with each other. They’ve been married for over 50 years! Regarding Myanmar, he said that if he had known it was on our itinerary he would not have come on the ship. He is part of a boycott effort towards Myanmar and its oppressive regime. He does not believe tourists should go there at all. SAS’s argument is that we are going with educational motives. I think I agree with SAS on this one because if 680+ kids go there and learn about the situation, even if only a few decide to do something about it it would be worth it. Raising awareness is half the battle in my opinion. Desmond Tutu opinion on homosexuality is that it is wrong to discriminate against people for something they can’t control. He has seen the first-hand effects of this when blacks in South Africa were discriminated against because they were black. He knows that his opinion goes against the Church but he kept saying that when he feels something is wrong he can’t keep it inside. I taped the whole thing and when I get a chance I’ll transcribe it. The one line I remember most vividly is ” After all, the sea is made up of drops of water,” implying that every little bit makes a difference.

It was pub night tonight again. There was a theme for a change…I Love the 80’s. It was definitely interesting to see what people came up with. Natalie, Lindsay, Drea, and I didn’t feel like dressing up or anything so we just went up there and ate snacks. Haha. THen we were just sitting at the piano bar watching all the tipsy people walk back and forth between pub night and the Union where there was a dance party (complete with black lights and strobe lights!). It was so entertaining- much better than TV! Ok well I really do have work to do tonight. Time to post!

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Jed all dressed up for 80’s night. He’s wearing my jeans!

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