CORVALLIS, Ore. – As a college student, Mamta Accapadi always imagined traveling around the world with the Semester at Sea program, but timing and finances never worked in her favor.
When she became the Dean of Students at Oregon State University, it seemed like the dream would never be a reality, but Accapadi wanted to find ways to give OSU students the opportunity to join the Semester at Sea program. So when she met a representative at a conference, she was eager to find out more. But what the representative said surprised her.
“She said, ‘Why don’t you apply?’” Accapadi recalled.
She learned that in addition to students, staff and faculty members are recruited for each voyage. For Accapadi, the possibility of achieving her dream seemed remote, but she sent in her application, figuring she’d be weeded out during the highly competitive process.
Instead, she got a phone call the following summer, was interviewed for the position of Dean of Students aboard ship for the fall 2011 trip, and was accepted. That unexpected turn of events had Accapadi scrambling to figure out exactly how to work this adventure into her life.
Luckily, her husband Jos, and their 3-year-old daughter Saaya were able to join her, and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Larry Roper worked with Accapadi to free her up from her duties at the university.
Starting Aug. 20, Accapadi will board ship in Boston with other faculty and staff from around the country, and prepare for the arrival of around 500 undergraduate and graduate students. The ship will spend 110 days circumnavigating the globe as they stop in 10 different countries, spending time at each location in putting their education to use. The broad-based curriculum is interdisciplinary, and all has practical applications to their world travel, from political science to social studies.
Although the program does not provide the immersion of an in-country study abroad experience, it offers the students a chance to have a global comparative experience, for instance, learning about post-colonial feminism in class and then comparing women’s experiences on the ground in Ghana and Hawaii.
In addition to their coursework, the students are engaged in fieldwork throughout their journey. The program, based out of the University of Virginia, describes turning the world into an academic laboratory.
Accapadi is thrilled to experience the adventure alongside the students, and looks forward to docking in places around the world and introducing her daughter to a unique travel experience. In South Africa, the group will be joined by a special visitor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They’ll also travel to Cuba, Morocco, India, Vietnam, China, Costa Rica and several other countries, a total of 10.
“It’s something I could have never imagined,” she said.
Accapadi will be chronicling her journey on a blog called “Accapadis at Sea”, available at: http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/accapadisatsea/