Ihab Anwar is an exchange student at the University of Rhode Island who spent the Fall 2014 semester on board the MV Explorer, where he was involved in the Semester at Sea program. The program is intended to provide students with a global understanding and prepare them for leadership roles in an increasingly interdependent world.
Ihab Anwar: Understanding the Diversity
Ihab Anwar is a college student from Manchester, England, who is attending the University of Rhode Island. He is an excellent student and committed to his studies, and has consistently been named to the Dean's List. And yet he spent almost no time on the university's Kingston, Rhode Island campus in the fall of 2014.
That is because he was taking part in the Semester at Sea program, a study abroad program that took place on board the MV Explorer. He and hundreds of other students circumnavigated the globe during the 108-day voyage that began on August 24th when they weighed anchor at the Port of Southampton in England.
The purpose of the program is to provide students with a deeper understanding of global issues and the complexities of international relations, and to prepare them to become global citizens and leaders of tomorrow. The Fall 2014 program was offered in academic partnership with the University of Virginia and includes experiential study, interdisciplinary coursework, and field labs in most of the fifteen countries they stopped at.
Ihab Anwar also learned a little something about love. "Met a girl named Jenna," he wrote in the diary he kept along the way. "Sophomore at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Psychology major. A real sweetheart. She's in my Introduction to Public Health class and we talked for half an hour after class today." He and Jenna quickly became good friends and spent a lot of time together during the months of the Semester at Sea program. It was unclear, by journey's end, whether their friendship went beyond a meeting of the minds, although he does record that the two took a long walk on a beach in Barbados together and held hands for much of the way.
After the Semester at Sea voyage ended in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 8, Ihab Anwar made a long, final entry in his diary. "If I have one criticism of the program it's that the time we were able to spend in each country was too short. The classes on board provided much about the history and culture of the countries we visited, but more time off the ship would have been better. Especially if I could have had more time on solid ground with Jenna!"
He added that the Semester at Sea program provided him with invaluable insights into comparative world cultures, and helped him to understand that while there is great richness and diversity in the world, there are more similarities than differences to its people.