In 2006, I was a pretty immature undergraduate student who hadn’t traveled anywhere outside of the United States. Lucky for me, I was able to participate in a unique study abroad experience called Semester at Sea (SAS), an accredited educational program aboard a converted cruise ship that integrates multiple-country study and interdisciplinary coursework for meaningful engagement in the global community.
My particular trip was a 65 day summer voyage around the Pacific Rim; we sailed from Mexico to Hawaii, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam (with an airplane ride to Cambodia), South Korea, Hong Kong, China, and Japan to San Diego. I witnessed extreme poverty, beautiful cultures and people, ancient temples and structures, and densely-populated urban environments, all of which fueled my desire to engage in service-related endeavors, and keep seeing as much of the world as possible. SAS helped me grow up, and the experience truly helped shape me into the person I am today.
Fast forward a few years later, and as you know, I was fortunate enough to be involved with the incredible organization known as Survivor Summit.
Well, a few months ago, I updated the SAS alumni relations office with news about our group’s successful climb to the roof of Africa. I opened up my mailbox today to find a copy of SAS’s Fall 2012 publication, Shipmates, and saw that Survivor Summit got a shout out. The short blurb states that,
"Lisa and her Survivor Summit teammates summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro on July 2, 2012, helping to raise more than $200,000 to benefit cancer programs at LIVESTRONG. Lisa credits her SAS experience with the inspiration to help those facing challenges."
I think it’s worth noting that SAS really gave me the confidence to challenge myself. This lesson came in handy when I stood for 46 hours to fight pediatric cancer with Penn State’s Dance MaraTHON in 2007, and rode a bike 4,500 miles with Texas 4000 for Cancer in 2009. And that’s what my climb up Kilimanjaro with Survivor Summit in July was all about as well. In fact, Survivor Summit’s mission is to empower individuals and provide inspiration, motivation, and hope for those among us facing uphill battles.
So thank goodness for the cool experiences I’ve had and for the amazing perspectives on life that I’ve gained as a result. I know I’ll cherish and grow from them for many years to come.
And after a long return to work post-holiday weekend, this magazine was a welcome and happy surprise in my mailbox, too. For want of SAS frozen yogurt from the MV Explorer’s seventh deck snack bar, I’m going to have to reward myself with some dark chocolate instead.