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March 31, 2020

Cut short by coronavirus fears, Semester at Sea program a study in resilience

The 557 students and 32 faculty members who set sail Jan. 4 on the CSU Semester at Sea program were filled with expectations for an adventure across 11 countries. When the program ended abruptly March 14 due to the global pandemic, they disembarked with some unexpected lessons learned, meaningful bonds, and a unique perspective on the crisis overtaking the world.

“We learned to be flexible in the face of repeated setbacks and to make the most of constantly changing circumstances far beyond our control,” said Atmospheric Science Professor Scott Denning, who taught oceanography and global studies as part of the program. “We were bound together into a deeply connected community by our shared experience of loss and learning and resilience.”

After leaving Japan Jan. 28, the ship skipped its scheduled stop in China because of the coronavirus outbreak and resulting travel lockdown. Instead, it sailed straight to Vietnam for an extended stay, from Feb. 4-16. Before departing Vietnam, participants completed the first of several health screenings, including a detailed questionnaire, face-to-face evaluation by physicians, and temperature check. The ship then rerouted again to avoid stops in Malaysia and India, for fear a later outbreak in either location would make them a “pariah ship,” denying them port elsewhere. They docked in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, for fuel and supplies, but no one was allowed off the ship.

Read the full Source article, “Cut short by coronavirus fears, Semester at Sea program a study in resilience.”

Photo at top: Semester at Sea students left their marks on the world, in the form of an inflatable globe held by Professor Scott Denning.