Packing 14 countries into 15 weeks of learning, the Semester at Sea Voyage 2012 proved life altering for Bennett College senior Ashley Buchanan.
“I have traveled to more countries within the past few months than some people do in a lifetime,” she said. “This program has taught me so much about myself and has challenged me mentally, physically, spiritually and educationally. I cannot thank Semester at Sea enough for allowing me this opportunity and for making the world my campus.”
The first Bennett student to ever participate in Semester at Sea, Buchanan also holds the College record for visiting the most countries within one semester. While it’s a fairly competitive program, the biggest limitation for most students is the $30,000 price tag. Knowing that her financial aid wouldn’t even cover half of the total expense, the Bennett Belle feverishly sought assistance. Receiving scholarships, grants and gifts, Buchanan acquired nearly 97 percent of her tuition.
“I thank all of my donors and the support from the administration and staff at Bennett College. It is only with their support that this voyage was made possible for me,” Buchanan said.
An international business major, Buchanan feels this experience will prepare her for a blossoming future.
“This program has given me a competitive advantage against others in my field and allowed me to establish contacts with individuals from around the world,” she said. “In addition, I have been challenged as a person and as a leader while being surrounded by so many involved and talented students from around our nation.”
She also said the experience gave her a formal introduction to an array of cultures and global issues. While most of the countries were developed nations, Ghana introduced her to a world where many inhabitants live without electricity, running water and shoes. One of her favorite stops along the way, the West African nation gave Buchanan an appreciated look at her ancestry.
“I was able to visit sites that I never imagined I would see – the Cape Coast Slave Castle, the house of W.E.B. Du Bois and the memorial of Kwame Nkrumah. Not to mention, the Ghanaians are the most welcoming people I have ever met. I loved my experience of going to the motherland,” she said.
Besides Ghana, Buchanan, a native of Long Island, N.Y., also visited Nova Scotia, Ireland, England, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, the Canary Islands and the Commonwealth of Dominica. Prior to the Semester at Sea Voyage, she had traveled to South Korea.