Name: Travon Terrell
Type of Project: Study Abroad
My study abroad program took 600 undergraduate students to 13 countries all over the world. The program focused on experiential learning while in country as well as diverse programming and classes while on the ship.
Participating in semester as sea allowed me to expand my world view. It is easy to say that we know there is more of the world than the one we live in. It is a completely different thing to immerse yourself in those different worlds and experience them. By experience I mean in a way that is much more than taking an Instagram photo at a historic site. Experiences such as homestays, volunteer programs, and random cultural exchanges with residents. Visiting the 13 very different countries allowed me to gain a more accurate depiction of what culture is and how I experience it.
Interacting with people from different cultures, who look different, speak different languages, and practice different ideas allowed me to be able to look at myself and how I work in the world. It also allowed me to view who I am. Listening to myself explain my life, my values, and why I value them allowed me to reflect myself. I now have a more intact vision of not only who I am, but why I am. I think it is important for everyone to be able to look at the experiences that they have had in life and ponder how they have shaped them. This inside knowledge of oneself can be the catalyst for growth and/or change in the right direction. It has certainly been both for me.
There is no one interaction that lead to the transformation that I had while studying abroad. I have had so many worthwhile experiences while on this trip that I’m surprised I can even recognize myself. I will say that the relationships that I built while on the trip are what allowed me to branch out and view the world in the way that I did. I have never in life been surrounded by a group of individuals so culturally sensitive, accepting, and outgoing in all my life.
I think the main reason that I put so much value on the relationships that I made on the trip is because I constantly felt challenged. Challenged in a way that allowed me to then go reflect and challenge myself. Not only about the experiences we were having in country, but with the experiences I have had in the past and may have in the future. We invested so much time in each other that I don’t think I would have grown at all without them. Constantly challenging my own thoughts, actions, and reactions allowed me to recognize and asses my own biases as a man, as an African American, and as an American.
Going in to this trip I was someone who knew I had biases, but I thought of myself as someone on the low extreme of that spectrum. As time passed on this trip I was able to recognize that I may have had fewer biases than the average American but not as a world citizen. I cannot say that this trip eliminated all biases that I have because that would be a lie. But I can say that I am working on being more open to recognizing my own biases and that of others.
Semester at Sea allowed me to look deeper into myself. Look at my past and connect it to who I am today and where I want to be later. I have looked at my career goals and gained more motivation to become a child and family therapist. Psychology has always been something that grasped my attention, but I never knew why. The relationships and experiences that I had on Semester at sea allowed me to look deep into my childhood and the troubles that I had in it. I now have a clearer image of why I am so passionate about being able to aid the upcoming generation.