~ sea-ville ~

16 May 2007

home again home again

somewhere around midnight, I was home. Leland & Joe were at the airport to meet me (bearing Diet Coke, Snapple, and salt bagels). I am forever indebted. More tears.



It was dark -- obviously -- driving home, but there are a few new buildings around, as Charlottesville continues to creep north, and the shadows felt different. Just more leaf-i-ness in the trees, I imagine. When I left, it was the middle of winter.

Elsa was very happy to see me. Lots of jumping and licking, tail-wagging and butt-shaking. It was a worthy welcome home. Casey didn’t come out of hiding until after Leland & Joe left, but he was there immediately after. He’s not purring at me yet, but he also doesn’t seem too pissed off. I missed my critters.

I was up until after 2 a.m., doing I don’t know what. Mostly starting things without finishing them: looking some through the piles of mail, unpacking some, wandering around the house some (Ashley re-arranged). Watching a little tv. Feeling kind of in a daze.

This morning, I woke up as soon as the sun came up. On the ship, we had room darkening shades because there are lights on the deck. I’ve gotten used to absolute pitch dark. I walked Elsa and took a few photos of my real-life to complete the map. My house & my mountains. A bit too hazy for a good view, but very green all around. 100 days later and welcome to spring.

and my puppy-love:

When we were in Himeji Castle in Japan, I was shooting photos of the view from window to window. At some point, I started to whimper to Robin that I wanted a view. I hadn’t even finished my sentence when I realized what I was saying and she already had this quizzical look on her face. I *do* have a view. I have a beautiful, clear view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from my front porch. I live in one of the prettiest places in America. My real-life is pretty darn impressive, when you get right down to it. It’s just going to take me a little while to settle back in.

Today was Target and Harris Teeter and Panera ... walking the footprints of my real-life. I have a few days of decompression before I return to work on Monday.

I had thought about ending this blog with a list of frequently asked questions, just as I had begun. What was your favorite port? What food did you like best? What did you buy? What’s it like working in a tiny little library? What will you miss most? Is it hard being around all those students all the time? Would you do it again? But, I don’t really have sound-bite answers to any of those questions. They are all swirling continuously in my head. All the ports were interesting in different ways. Malaysia was the most surprising. I had no expectations and loved Malaysia. China was emotionally overwhelming. Tiananmen Square got to me in a way I never would have guessed. Vietnam, I assumed would get to me, and indeed it did. Even the neon. Japan is beautiful and the orderliness made me feel so calm and at peace. South Africa was exquisite in every way -- even the sadness, so close to the surface -- and India was mind-numbing equally in every way. I have particular days that stand out: the day Robin & I took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, the day Mary & Michael & I went to Hiroshima, the day Phoebe & David & Robin & I went shopping in Ho Chi Minh City and Robin & I negotiated the crazy traffic with Lois & Mark on the walk back to the ship. Pretty much any day that involved the Archbishop will be emblazoned in my mind forever. The birthday party for Erika, our workstudy student, who told us ours was the first "work-card" she ever received. There will be lots of other memories that will come to the fore as I’m sure others will fade away. I learned a lot about myself on this trip and a lot about the kind of work I like to do. I enjoyed my little library, but I’m over any illusions of working in a small, specialized library. And I am reminded that a public service desk is not my very favorite place to be. But, I loved working with the faculty. I loved being able to support them directly and find creative ways to meet their needs. I loved trying to find ways to make the library not-so-hard for the students to use, even as the technological situation made this oh-so difficult. I got to actually *do* cataloging again! I enjoyed working with the workstudy students, even when they didn’t do the things we asked. On the last day, Ericka thanked me for teaching her to be a librarian. I loved that. Would I do it again? I’d go the other direction around the world. Losing all the sleep was really hard. The other direction is definitely the better deal in that regard. But, either way you go, it’s a pretty darn cool experience going ‘round the world on a ship at twenty miles per hour. How does this compare to an immersion program? I spent my junior year in Spain, traveling also, but basically living in one place for the year. In Sevilla, that was my home. I felt like I lived there (I *did* live there) and by the end, it felt like *my* city. Here, at the ports, we were tourists. But what stood out here -- and what is largely overlooked in an immersion program -- is the connections between the countries of the world. This trip definitely makes the world smaller. As we went from place to place, we learned how and why people and culture and art and religion migrated around the globe. The world became smaller. And, somehow, with that, hope seems more possible and peace seems more possible. Human connection seems more possible. During his talk the morning of the Virginia Tech massacre, the Archbishop said (heavily paraphrasing) that you can’t have peace without humanity and you can’t have humanity without people and you must turn towards each other rather than away. I learned that in a big way this voyage. I made good friends and my world got smaller. So, yes, I recommend that you all -- if you get the opportunity -- go around the world at 20 miles per hour with a lot of really smart faculty and staff and insanely energetic students. And a Nobel Peace Laureate, for good measure. It was hard and it was exhausting and it was emotional beyond description or belief. But it was a blast.

15 May 2007

flying home

not that I’m in the business of doing commercials but I recommend the Hampton Inn Sea World/Airport next time you are in San Diego. $129, the room was big and beautiful, the beds were oh-so-comfy and white, the shower was really really hot and with strong water pressure, there’s free high speed internet, hot breakfast and a newspaper are included *and* they have a free shuttle to the airport. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Exactly what I needed.

At the time, I didn’t even know how much …

I boarded an 11:25 flight from San Diego. We weighed too much and so they had to come back and add more fuel to the plane. No doubt it had something to do with all the crap the various Semester at Sea passengers were carrying (myself included). There were a number of us on this flight. Somebody should have warned them. So, we sat for a bit. Then, there were thunderstorms on the east coast and so we got re-routed. We arrived an hour late and about 25 minutes before my connection. I ran ran ran to my connecting flight. When we got off the first flight, the board said my C-Ville flight was on time. In the 15 minutes it took me to run run run from where the big cross-country planes come in and then get the shuttle to the rinky-dink terminal where the rinky-dink small planes leave from, the C-Ville flight managed to post a 45 minute delay. So, here I am blogging. The bad news is a) there is no free wireless in this airport and, since I refuse to pay, I’m not posting this now; and b) there is no outlet to be seen where I can plug in my iPod which is not going to last the flight to C-Ville. The good news is a) I reached Leland & Joe, who are graciously meeting me at the airport even though it means a very late night for them, and I reached Ashley, my dogsitter, who is prepared in case my flight gets cancelled in the end; b) I got food, which was good because all I’ve had all day is a biscuit and orange juice at the hotel (despite the hot breakfast they offered me free), since even cross-country planes don’t serve anything more than nuts any more; and c) my body is still on California-time, so it feels 3 hours earlier than it actually is and I’m not yet totally consumed by exhaustion. I just put my laptop back on Eastern Time GMT-05:00 (US & Canada).

I have now officially traveled all the way around the world and I’d really like to be home.

14 May 2007

bienvenidos a los estados unidos

ok, so wrong language. But here we are in San Diego, where of course there is equally much Spanish as there is English. I spent the afternoon with Dawn and Joel in Old Town, where everything is bilingual. We walked around before Old Town dazed and confused by all the everything on the street: Target, PetSmart, Payless, Home Depot, Chipotle, Chilis, Staples, Big Lots, Olive Garden, Holiday Inn, Hilton, Ross, Marshalls, and on and on and on …

But before all that …

the motto of this morning was "hurry up and wait" -- I got up at 6:45 for breakfast, took a quick shower, and then watched us pull into port.

There were families with banners screaming to us from the dock, but honestly not so many people as I expected. I guess they had already figured out there was no point to hurrying up and waiting. There were students on cell phones saying: I’m here … don’t you see me? … I’m wearing lime green … I’m waving … I’m jumping up & down … I’m here … to parents on the other end of the phone line standing on the dock. They were on the opposite side of the terminal building -- past customs -- so they could see us (and we them) as we pulled in, but not once we had docked.

Then the customs officials came aboard (around 8) and they did whatever they do while we sat and waited for further instructions. We moved aimlessly from place to place. It’s odd not to have something we were supposed to be doing. After taking photos of the city and the people screaming for us, eventually many of us gravitated to the faculty/staff lounge where we sat around and whimpered until they kicked us out to start the Customs process. Then we all processed through to pick up the declaration cards that they mistakenly made us fill out in Hawaii.

Then Les McCabe, President of ISE, addressed us on Burma. With the Archbishop in the front row and initiating standing ovations for the students.

Les had sent an ISE response the day before which said that they appreciated the students’ concerns, they were impressed by the student activism, they would form a committee with students from this voyage and alums from previous voyages (students who went to Burma), and they would consult with scholars in the field to make a decision. Les reiterated all of this to a packed audience in the Union and, although I had concerns that forming a committee is pretty much a sign of death, he did convince me otherwise. He seemed genuinely impressed by the students. He said that he’s been involved with ISE for some crazy number of years, students often find a cause they care about over the course of the voyage, and that he has met over 60 voyages at their port of re-entry. But, this was the first time that on re-entry day, the students were not focused on packing and saying goodbye to friends. This was the first time the ship ever arrived with an immediate activist agenda. And then he went on to talk about the committee. The students pushed back during the discussion afterward. They feel a time pressure. On May 27th, there will be a decision by the military government about whether or not to continue the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi. They wanted ISE to make a statement now (with the Archbishop aboard) that ISE supports the democracy movement in Burma in an ongoing effort to press the U.S. government to press the U.N. to press the military government. They had a big agenda and they thought that with the Archbishop aboard there would be a good press opportunity. Les said ISE understood the time crunch, but they were not prepared to move today. Another student in the discussion spoke to the contrary points -- that going to Burma raises the level of discussion and education, maybe some of our dollars will reach the people who need it, etc., etc. Les said this was a serious counter-argument and exactly why the issue needed to be debated through process. The Archbishop raised his hand to that question and immediately took the podium. Angry. He talked with much anger and passion and, as usual, incredible eloquence and said this answer made him mad. He said that, during apartheid in South Africa, many people were against divestment and sanctions because they felt like economic pressure might hurt the people who most needed their help. His response was: “we don’t need our shackles made more comfortable.” We need to be free. We don’t need our shackles made more comfortable -- that line really got to me …

Les went on to tell the students that they needed to keep the pressure on, they need to stay mobilized, he was very encouraging in all those regards. But, ISE wasn’t prepared to do anything dramatic today nor to take advantage of the Nobel Peace Laureate’s singular access to a microphone. It’ll be interesting to see what happens and whether the students can maintain momentum after they get off the ship.

There were many hands still up in the audience and discussion could have gone on and on and on, but we were interrupted by an announcement that we could begin disembarkation. The Sea that won the Sea Olympics was called to the gangway and the faculty/staff all headed back to our cabins to collect our stuff because we would be next. And, with that, we were in good-bye mode. I met Phoebe in the hall, who was crying-crying. I started crying, I hugged Judyie who started crying, I came down the stairs and there was Miriam. We hugged and she started crying, and then I headed back to my cabin and there was my cabin-steward, Rolando, who hugged me and I was still crying. And then came Robin down the hall and we hugged and there was more crying. And then I collected my stuff and headed back into Purser’s Square where Sherri was crying. And on and on. Except for Giles & Kate who (again, elegant New Yorkers) out-right refused to cry. The disembarkation process turned out to be remarkably orderly. We got off, what’s the opposite of a reception line? a departing line? The administrative team was standing along the gangway every few feet and there was more hugging. Then, we collected luggage, there was UPS, and we were done.

Robin’s partner, David, met her at the ship and he had a truck and they drove me to my hotel. Everyone was pretty much in goal-mode. Collect luggage, find UPS, get a taxi. Robin and I dropped our stuff and David went to the parking lot to retrieve the car.

Since we had a plan, we had the luxury of knowing what we were doing and so I was able to intercept everyone else before they departed. In the end, I did get to see most everyone I wanted to see before we left. Not everyone, but most. Here's my final view of our ship with all her flags:

David and Robin and I had trouble finding the hotel (it has to be around here SOMEWHERE!), but I got a nice tour of San Diego in the process. I was grateful for the ride and it was really most hard to say goodbye to her. The circling around Sea World & the airport at least postponed the trauma a little longer …

Dawn and I had made tentative plans for the afternoon. She and her son, Joel, who was a student on the voyage, were also spending the day in San Diego. We both had random hotels somewhere near Sea World and the airport. Dawn disembarked with the faculty/staff, but her son wasn’t allowed to disembark with her. He had to wait until his student group was called and she had to wait around for him. I had given her my cell number and told her to call when they had a plan. After I dropped my stuff at the hotel, I went in search of lunch. I found some food and just started walking around aimlessly. The hotel is on a very busy road full of all those box stores mentioned above. It was a beautiful San Diego day and so I enjoyed the sunshine and tried to re-enter slowly back into the American universe. And then I heard my name. I looked across the 6-lane road and there were Dawn and Joel. Our hotels, it turns out, were about a 5 minute walk from each other! The three of us decided to take a cab to Old Town and we wandered around there for several hours. I’ve been to San Diego -- and Old Town, actually -- several times in the last couple of years, so it wasn’t so new to me but Joel had never been to California at all. It was a nice afternoon. We found a lovely park and just strolled and decompressed.

Tonight, I’m in the hotel room watching CNN and enjoying free high-speed Internet. It’s been 3 ½ months since the last time I had high-speed Internet. WOW! It’s amazing how fast these photos upload! Other parts of re-entry have already proven difficult, but this one makes me very very very happy!

At the hotel, as Robin and I were saying goodbye, Robin said to the desk clerks that we had traveled ‘round the world together. And they looked totally incredulous as we explained. On the way back with Dawn and Joel in the taxi, the driver asked us where we were from. And we told him we had just come from ‘round the world. He also looked at us incredulous. Actually, his first question was: is that as expensive as it sounds??? Target, PetSmart, Payless, Home Depot, Chipotle, Chilis, Staples, Big Lots, Olive Garden, Holiday Inn, Hilton, Ross, Marshalls ... I’ve been off the ship only seven hours, yet it’s already starting to feel incredulous & un-real.

13 May 2007

convocation

so, first this morning, remember the Archbishop said very nice things about the library at breakfast? Then, tonight there was Convocation to honor the students aboard who are graduating seniors and the shipboard community at large. I processed in with the faculty, which was nice -- I have to say I’ve felt totally part of the faculty and that has worked really well -- and there’s something a bit ego-boosting about standing there with all the students applauding for you. And then the Archbishop spoke and went through a list of things he wondered how we will ever live without: the noontime bridge report (as mentioned by Marvel the other day, how will we ever get our bearings?), Mizraim singing the dining hall, Bob and his ubiquitous guitar … and … excellent library service. “I ask for a book and, at the next port, there is the book I asked for!,” he said with his tell-tale giggle. And then Dean Larry thanked us also during his remarks (he thanked all the staff offices individually) and Sherri & I got a very warm applause. This was a very cool gig.

gmt-8: california time

we’re all packed, everything has been taken down to deck 2 for holding for tomorrow morning. Both personal bags and 7 boxes of textbooks going off for donation. The library is clean, everything is shelved, in perfect order, and looking beautiful. I have the clean database backed up for UVA plus a video list plus a book list. And Destiny documentation left for the crew IT folks and for Jean. Several crew have stopped me to tell me how happy they are that textbooks are being donated. It must have distressed them in the past also to see them thrown away. This afternoon, I need to work on my end-of-voyage report and then I’m DONE! We’re having a party at 4:00 in the faculty/staff lounge, convocation is tonight, and then I’m sure something celebratory will happen after that. We’re told that tomorrow is nuts and that you don’t get to see anybody you want to see in the chaos and that you should say goodbye to everybody today. That’ll make me nuts. I can only do the goodbye-thing once and I need it to be at the end. But I fear that people will just vanish into the whirlpool of luggage grabbing & UPS shipping & happy families greeting the ship.

I decided to get a hotel room for tomorrow night. Staying on the ship was going to be overly complicated. They won’t let us take luggage off tomorrow if we’re staying tomorrow night. There is no secure location in the warehouse to store our stuff (although this seems hard to believe). Customs won’t let us back on the ship with our stuff once we’ve cleared. So we have to wait until Tuesday morning. When UPS will no longer be there to greet us. Mailing was going to be a headache, disembarkation was going to be a headache, customs was going to be a headache. There’s a big reception onboard tomorrow night for alums -- 1100 people -- and that seemed crazy. I was already having a hard time thinking about watching everybody leave tomorrow morning without me and then the idea of 1100 people I don’t know wandering around *my* ship after all my friends have gone … yuck ... So, I booked a hotel room and I’ll be getting off the ship with everyone else.

Last night we dropped “instruments” into the ocean. There have been a couple different folks from an oceanography institute at UCSD with us for various legs of this voyage. They’ve been dropping things into the ocean along the way to do science. I honestly hadn’t been paying much attention. But, last night, the faculty/staff all signed the last instrument that was being dropped and we stood on deck 4 aft and watched them throw it overboard. It was quite something to watch. I should have paid attention earlier. We actually threw two things overboard. The first was lighter (called a drifter) and it was thrown by hand. The second was heavy and it was strapped to the ship by cables. First it was lowered slowly and then released. Standing in the dark watching these things get sucked in by the wake was really impressive to watch. Swirling and swirling and swirling and swirling before finally sinking into the foam. The plan was for us all to yell something that we wished to throw out into the universe that would help us continue this voyage. These instruments will live in the ocean for a good 10 years or so and we were supposed to send our words and thoughts with it. But there wasn’t a whole lot of yelling. Mostly there were tears and hugging. 'Though Toni did finally yell at the top of her lungs: FACULTY & STAFF, I LOVE YOU! And then more tears and hugging …

I had breakfast today with the Archbishop and Leah. He told me I have a very nice library and that I "did good". Have I mentioned that I am totally in love with the Archbishop??? And we had a Mother’s Day (or Parent’s Day) lunch for Mary and Michael with ice-cream cake and all. It was our last family gathering and we’ve all promised to reunite at Mary & Michael’s cabin in Wisconsin sometime soon.

And, as for the rest of the day … ugh … so many more tears and hugging. This has got to stop …

Wishing happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there, particularly mine.

12 May 2007

burma

keep meaning to blog about Burma. We were supposed to go to Burma. Burma is also called Myanmar, the name given to it by the military regime that controls the country and terrorizes its people. The U.S. refuses to acknowledge the military dictatorship and so continues to call the country by its previous name, Burma. We didn’t go to Burma because the Archbishop refused to sail with us if we did. ISE changed the itinerary to get the Archbishop. Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the democracy movement there, has been imprisoned for her passionate views and she has requested that tourism dollars not be spent in Burma because that money only benefits the military government. She argues that the government has created a fa├žade for tourists that is far from the reality of the people. The Archbishop, in support of Aung San Suu Kyi -- and with a legacy of advocating for divestment in South Africa -- agrees with her strategy of withholding tourism dollars. There are arguments on the other side as well. Previous voyagers who went to Burma talk about how that port really moved them and how going to Burma brings attention and knowledge to the situation there which is not discussed in the U.S. It’s also been noted that egregious human rights violations happen in many of the other counties we visit on this itinerary as well and we have not boycotted those countries. Burma is back on the SAS itinerary for next fall and spring. The students on this voyage have taken it upon themselves in the last few weeks to educate themselves about Burma and they’ve spoken with the Archbishop extensively and they had a teach-in the other night that the Archbishop attended. A group of them is trying to organize a boycott of the Alumni Association Fund Drive to try to get ISE to change the itinerary for those upcoming voyages, they’ve had a petition going around, and they have drafted a very eloquent letter to ISE and to UVA. That letter went out last night with (obviously) support from the Archbishop. Many faculty/staff and life-long-learners have also signed a letter of support and also the petition. Yesterday, we learned that ISE administration will address the community on Monday morning when we arrive in San Diego. I imagine the Archbishop will be in the front row. And it sounds like he also may be prepared to speak. We’ve been talking to students for 3 ½ months about how they are going to go home and change the world. Here they go …

11 May 2007

somewhere between hawaii and california

ugh, not feeling good today. There is definitely stuff going ‘round this ship. My immune system has held up pretty well … until today, but ugh … I slept all morning. Had a little lunch and then Dawn asked me if I’d help proctor an exam. The classroom layout isn’t great on the ship and there are so many students aboard. Many of the rooms are very oddly-shaped and many only have little round bar-tables. With the record number of 702 students, there are 35 students in most classes and that makes the classroom space really really tight. There is no space for folks to spread out. Half of Dawn’s econ class wanted to go to the dining hall where there are big tables and more room. So, I hung out in the classroom with the other half. I was feeling better and proctoring doesn’t require a whole lot of energy, so that was fine. I brought my laptop. I did, though, have to be conscious of typing very quietly. As my staff will tell you, I type very loudly. Annette tells me that’s how she knows whether or not I’m in my office, she can hear me typing. Typing softly was a challenge!

And then I worked the rest of the afternoon. We have a ton of donated textbooks. Thanks much to Barbie at UVA, Jill at ISE, and Ron on the ship, we’ve figured out a way to ship textbooks to Better World Books who will then distribute them to various literacy organizations. In the past, they’ve mostly been incinerated with the ship’s other trash. But, we’ve got mailing labels and we’ve got a way to get them off the ship and taken to UPS. The only remaining challenge is boxes. I put a big box in the Union that overfilled immediately. There are two other boxes in the library. Books are currently stacked on the floor in the Union and tomorrow I need to figure out what to do about that. Today was the final due date for all library books. Many came in, but not anywhere close to all. We’d said we’d bill tomorrow for any unreturned books, so we’ll see how that goes. Billing for all things needs to be closed by midnight tomorrow night. All the reserves are out of the computer. Tomorrow, we’ll peel off labels and reshelve. The students who were working tonight were supposed to shelf-read their areas. Hopefully, they listened … We had volunteers shelving today, so we’re caught up there until tomorrow’s returns and reserve shelving. So, I’m feeling in pretty good shape. Sherri and I will be in the library most of the day tomorrow, likely, but we’re not opening normal hours. There are parties and other events starting at 4:00 and I feel pretty confident we can be more or less done by then. Sunday, I have a handful of things to do, like backing up the cataloging records to bring back to UVA, generating updated video lists and such, deleting patron records. Nothing that should take any real time. Just final things to cross off the to-do list.

Today was B-finals day. Everyone is ecstatic to be done. Faculty are franticly grading. Grades are due tomorrow at 5:00. As for personal packing, I have one bag packed and two boxes packed. We have to have luggage outside our doors by Sunday at 10 a.m. Things are a little confusing for me because I’m staying on the ship Monday night with the administrative team. I was given luggage tags for the faculty/staff group, but I think I need ones for the administrative group. We’re hoping that the administrative team’s luggage will be off-loaded on Monday, we’ll go through Customs with everyone else (yes, it turns out we have to go through Customs again -- the Customs officials made a mistake in Hawaii), and then our luggage will be held somewhere secure until Tuesday. But, that hasn’t been confirmed yet. I’m hoping that for 2 reasons: 1) I don’t want to have to transport my own luggage! and 2) I want to mail my boxes when UPS greets the ship on Monday. But, it may mean that I don’t get to disembark with the faculty/staff in the morning (they are the 2nd group to disembark after the sea that won the Sea Olympics). The admin team will go last after everyone else gets off. They expect the first students to get off at 11 am and the last students to get off at 4 pm. I’d like to have the afternoon in San Diego, but I’m guessing that won’t happen. Dawn invited me to bum around San Diego with her and her son Joel, which would be nice, but I don’t know whether I’ll be able to catch up with them later in the day or not. My flight home leaves 11-ish on Tuesday morning.

Tonight, we had a mandatory disembarkation meeting. And they did a logistical pre-port event in imitation of the others we have done along the way: kinds of food you should be sure to eat in America, useful phrases in “American”, things you need to know about the culture in America, how their toilets work, etc. It was cute. And then there was a segment on news. Some of the things we’ve missed in the last 3 ½ months. Something about Paris Hilton going to jail, people trying to get Al Gore to reconsider running, the Republican debate last week, and the fact that Boris Yeltsin died. Somehow, we totally missed that. For a group of students and faculty traveling around the world to learn about the world, we are woefully uninformed about current news. Frightening, frankly. And then Marvel, one of the mental health folks on board, talked about re-entry and how to talk about the enormity of this trip when everyone at home really only wants sound-bites and how to stay connected to the experience. She was really good. She has done this trip many times and so she knows wherefrom she speaks.

We lose an hour tonight and another hour tomorrow night and then we’re on California time. Today at the noontime bridge report we learned we were half-way between Hawaii and California. One of the things Marvel said tonight was, without the noontime bridge report, how will I ever know where I am? Or where I am going? Indeed.

10 May 2007

to my blog readership

I’ve been getting a number of very nice emails these past few days from folks telling me that they have enjoyed this blog. I have really loved doing it. I wasn’t sure at the start what I would think of providing running commentary on my life, but it’s been a blast. I’ve never journaled before. I find that I spend a lot of my day thinking about what I’m going to tell you all. You people out there in cyberspace. It has made me take much more notice of where I stand in relation to what’s going on around me. And to pay attention to what I’m thinking about. I’ve enjoyed this opportunity that you have all given me.

Thank you for reading. I don’t know how many of you are out there in total, but I do know that you people in the blogosphere are friends and family and colleagues. Knowing you have been there reading has been really wonderful. I also know that there is a group of you that I don’t know at all. I’ve been told that this blog’s been out there on the MSN message board and I know that Semester at Sea parents are reading (I know that RD Erika’s mom is out there somewhere, hi Erika’s mom! …) and I know that bits and pieces have been picked up by others at UVA and at the Institute for Shipboard Education. I hope I’ve given you all a taste of what this experience was like. And I ask that you remember that this same voyage is very different for each one of us. I’ve linked to the other blogs at left so that you can read some of the same experiences from other perspectives. I’m looking forward to actually going back after this voyage and reading those other blogs more closely.

At the very beginning of this voyage, Gloria gave me some journaling tips. She journals on all her field research trips to Panama and she sends them in emails back home to a list of about 70 people -- friends, colleagues. I had mentioned that I was having a hard time with having such a disperse audience (this was before it even occurred to me that people who I didn’t even know would be reading this). Gloria said she writes for the people dearest to her heart and then she reads it over VERY carefully once more before she hits "send" … to make sure it’s really ok for everybody else! So, this is what I’ve done. I hope I’ve made a connection with the people who know me best and I imagine those who don’t have found something interesting in my experience to have kept on reading.

David teaches writing and he’s been telling me this whole voyage that I should go back and re-read the blog from the start. I haven’t done that yet, but I imagine I will do so when I get home. To remember where I was in my head back over 100 days ago. And to see if these musings really did capture what this experience was like for me. These three months have felt like a lifetime and no time at all. Thanks to you all in cyberspace for traveling with me around the world. You’ve been great company.