Wednesday, May 10, 2017

If you don’t know exactly what’s happening, just state your observations.

The lessons of sea can be distinctly different from those on land. Sometimes, what we see will be more important than how we see it.

One morning, sitting at the point, we had five minutes of silence to simply observe what was happening around us. Discussing what we noticed as a group afterwards, everyone picked up on something different. Only all together could we begin to make sense of our surroundings. I couldn’t focus my attention on one thing for too long, wanting to take in the entirety of the setting; I wanted to see the big picture, how everything fit together. Others zeroed in on the currents, others on the bird patterns, and others still on the seals. Without all of our eyes together, we wouldn’t have seen the bay in the same way. That day, we began the process of relying on one another to bring individual perspective to our collective experience.

It’s now been 5 weeks since we first walked onto the Hopkins campus.  I distinctly remember sitting on the 3rd floor of Agassiz, the building that would become our home, mind racing with questions of what I was doing in this course and who I would become at the end of this journey. As if anticipating these very thoughts, Barb started off the morning reading us the first page of the journal she kept during her SEA experience as an undergrad. That was a moment I won’t forget. Expressing many of the same concerns and excitement many of us probably felt, the sense of community formed. Discussing WHY we would embark on a voyage like this one encouraged all of us to frame the voyage as an opportunity for personal growth – physically, mentally, and intellectually.

I think I speak for everyone in saying this is an experience we won’t be able to recreate. Already, it has been an opportunity to engage our hands and minds simultaneously, an opportunity to connect deeply with a group of 20 other students, and an opportunity to go beyond our comfort zones in order to become better versions of ourselves. With everyone taking the same classes, we define our experiences together by what we are learning. Our classes constantly in communication with one another, discussions are that much richer.

These 5 weeks went by faster than any of us could have anticipated. We learned how to navigate with both lines of position and celestial bodies, observed weather patterns, perfected (?) safety protocols, began to grasp the complexity of oceanography, and explored the cultural history of the places we will visit. Each of us crafted a research project to complete while aboard the ship. They range from corals to water masses, from plastics to squids, to sharks, and to tuna hearts; all of these projects together will define our shipboard experience. With (almost) all of the equipment packed up for the boat, we are just about ready to embark! 

-Lindsay Allison

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