After four nights on ship, and three spectacular days of learning in American Samoa, yesterday we set sail from Pago Pago Harbor. Though as individuals we had all awaited this moment by means of our own personal pilina, or relationship, with the dream of the voyage, the visceral elation beamed from every face, connecting us all. We were even lucky enough to have some family members of Tise and Kalo come to see us off, watching excitedly from the shore as did the students from the boat. Their devotion to staying through the departure delay, and the love they showed waving us out of port helped me feel closer to my own family, not only in the patience they held to make sure we were safely on our way, but in their smiles and warmth. I couldn't be more grateful than I am in these moments.
Reminders of these systems of love and support have only gotten stronger since setting sail, as we are learning to take on an entirely new world together as one crew. Though we'd spent four nights onboard in Pago Pago, I doubt any of us truly realized how quickly our boat-home would transform at sea. The vessel seems to swirl in the swell, as waves lick up against her port holes, and each time all I can think is "WOW. Polynesian navigators are bad-ass!" The concept of the inertia-balancing (gimbaled) saloon tables was explained thoroughly enough, but nothing can really capture the experience like watching your plate, freshly piled with a long-awaited, and savory meal, swing from your chest to your thighs in seconds!
The motion of the ocean is NO JOKE, but while we adjust everyone has done an amazing job taking care of one another. Whether by applying sunscreen, or bringing water and saltines to our seasick friends, or being flexible and picking up extra responsibilities while on duty, everyone has pulled together to make these first days incredible. Little by little those who were sick have almost entirely recovered, and blown everyone away with how devoted they were to learning and getting their hands dirty, even while not feeling 100%. The crew training us definitely deserves a great amount of recognition, as their upbeat attitudes and encouragement have definitely kept us going through such a different environment.
As breathtaking as she is mighty, the sea has definitely kept our egos in check; but with the help of so many amazing shipmates, I know every day will be a new adventure.
- Zuri Shanklin, B Watch, UNC Chapel Hill