Semester at Sea

Sanjoy Hazarika was a Lecturer on the unique Semester at Sea programme, which is run on the passenger ship MV Explorer, which is a traveling US University campus. Mr. Hazarika gave two major keynote addresses on A Writer’s Perceptive of India, mapping the historical growth and economic development of the country in lectures which were attended by over 600 students and faculty as well as senior crew members. In addition, he spoke or gave a total of 10 more lectures (and also screened his film, Children of the River: the xihus of Assam on the threatened river dolphins of the Brahmaputra ). The University of Virginia serves as academic sponsors. Schools such as Pittsburgh, Colorado, Stanford, Virginia and UCLA traditionally send groups of students on the voyages.

Mr. Hazarika interacted with students and faculty on a range of issues as diverse as Tibet, China and India, migration and refugegs, conflict and ethnicity and also drew much positive response for the boat clinic innovation in Assam which he showcased through special presentations. His role was that of the Interport Lecturer (under the programme, a specialist is taken on board before the ship reaches a country where it stops for a few days and the onboard lecturer is both a speaker as well as key resource person on the issues before that country – Mr. Hazarika joined the voyage at Port Louis, Mauritius, and travelled to Chennai .

“It was a great experience, extremely energetic and challenging and also enjoyable,” Hazarika says. “There were classrooms on different levels, the ship was huge – and although I have traveled on ships and vessels in different parts of the world, this was the longest I had been on any, with an extremely mixed group of students and faculty, many of whom were coming to India for the first time and were most open and excited about their visit.”  His presentations and interactive discussions were widely appreciated by faculty and students, a number of whom expressed an interest in visiting the boat clinics in Assam as interns.

There was a moving ceremony early one morning at sea, when a member of the faculty organized a memorial service to remember her young son who died suddenly. Those who wished to remember dear ones were encouraged to do so by tossing flowers into the Indian Ocean and observing a moment’s silence with the others Mr. Hazarika took part in the occasion to remember his partner of 30 years and wife, Minal, who had passed away in April 2009.

Established in 1963, Semester at Sea is the only study abroad program of its kind in the world. Using a ship as its traveling campus, students, faculty, and lecturers learn and reside together while fully circumnavigating the globe each fall and spring semester and exploring a world region each summer. More than 2,000 undergraduates representing 200-300 institutions worldwide study abroad with Semester at Sea each year.  The Semester at Sea program will celebrate its 100th voyage this fall with about 520 students aboard the floating campus.. Semester at Sea classroom learning is integrated with hands-on fieldwork and service learning in destinations around the world-as many as 12 each semester — where participants gain deeper knowledge of world issues, economies and cultures through comparative experiential study. Participants receive full transferable credit to their home institutions from the University of Virginia, which serves as academic sponsor.

During the voyage, students take classes such as global learning, psychology, zoology, leadership, music, poetry, communication, management, business and service learning. In the area of service learning, all students will have an opportunity to participate in the $100 Solution, a humanitarian project developed by Dr. Bernie Strenecky, scholar-in-residence at Western Kentucky University. Through this project, which is headquartered at WKU, students are provided with knowledge, skills and funds which are used to solve social problems at the national and international levels.

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