So, #1 by an easy distance are the people, relationships, friendships, epiphanies, observations and new understandings that naturally occured in living with almost 900 people for almost 4 months.
This is the Spring 2007 voyage photo that we took last month in the port of Kobe. I often said (and still believe) that I had the best job on the ship. As Registrar/Assistant Academic Dean, I was able to forge deep relationships with the students as both friend and mentor, I was blessed to support a phenomenal faculty, I was on the 6 person executive team. Some portions of my job were so task heavy that I needed the help of our Lifelong Learners (retired voyagers) and their volunteer efforts literally made my job manageable.Â Finally, I enjoyed the energy and spirit of the children (9 months-16 years old) that were on the voyage without having to actually be responsible for them. I enjoyed the spouses and partners of our staff and faculty and loved what they contributed to our community. From teaching aerobics classes, to being my right hand on our 4 major exam days-smart, engaged, valuable.
We all worked harder than I thought that we would. I had imagined some afternoons reading a good book on the back deck. Never happened. Resting in my cabin in the afternoons to break up the long days. Rarely happened. And sleeping in on occassion. Happened exactly one time.
That being said, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I was challenged and pushed, but I was also affirmed and valued. I enjoyed my professional role as well as my community roles. I was an advisor to the People of Color and LGBTA groups, I had two extended “families” of 6 students each, with whom I tried to have dinner or game night or snacks every couple of weeks to check in on them, monitor their general health and hear all about the wonderful adventures they were having.
I was appointed the chair of the Fairy Godmother Fund, our shipboard community effort to raise money for students who didn’t have much financial access to the side trips and experiences. This was right up my alley. I ran the shipboard TV film loop, programming 4 channels for each night we were at sea, and I was tasked with organizing the Community College series which was a series of seminars on board each night we were at sea – topics ranged from “So You Want to climb Kilimanjaro?” to “Making Special Effects Cakes”, again..right up my alley. And those are just the tip of the iceberg (and fortunately we didn’t see any of those). And how many people can say they celebrated their birthday in the middle of the Indian Ocean?
Of course any experience tends to become more pleasant in the memory as time passes, but I’ll never forget how hard we worked to get everyone around the world safe and on time, I’ll never forget how hard we laughed every.single.day, I’ll never forget how my heart broke as I walked away from the ship in San Diego for the last time, my stuff in tow, my life altered in ways I still can’t articulate.
But most of all I hope I never forget that it really is all about doing the best you can, with what you’ve got. every day. And if you’re lucky, you’ll both change and be changed by the greatest resource we have, each other.
Last but not least, all of you who have followed the blog (30-200 hits a day) and especially those who took time to comment…It truly wouldn’t have been the same without you. Thanks for your support, laughs, thoughtful additions and for some of yall…pure foolishness. I wish everything for you, that I wish for myself, and harbor no doubt that we can all live a life less ordinary.
Dia aka Funchilde