Living in Community

July 1, 2024

Author: Beth Mendenhall, Policy Faculty


Students Casey and Zeke discuss a visualization of the voyage of Austronesia peoples across the Central Pacific, at the Tahitian history museum.

Ship's Log

Friday, 21 June 2024
Noon Position (Lat and Long): 17 deg 32.3'S x 149 deg 34.2'W
Ship Heading (degrees):  NA
Ship Speed (knots):  NA
Log (nm): 0.0
Weather / Wind: Partly cloudy, very hot and humid
Description of Location: Alongside in Papeete, Tahiti

Even though we haven't yet left port, students, faculty, and other crew are
already experiencing something meaningful and dare-I-say magical. As a new
faculty member on my very first trip with SEA, I can understand what the
students are feeling, as almost all of them are new to a ship like the SSV
Robert C. Seamans and to shipboard life. Every day has felt like 36 hours,
in a good way. The communal living has a way of making you forget your
phone, your social media, and your life back home. Students and crew pass
the time by chatting about their lives, Tahiti, and their hopes for the
trip. I personally relish the busy worker-bee frenzy of morning chores, and
the standing circle for muster. We are getting better and better at the
single, simultaneous clap that, for me anyway, expresses my appreciation of
our captain and mates for their excellent leadership. The clap is led by
Ding, one of the undergraduate students here as a researcher for Blue Nature

But at the same time, I'm finding that life on the ship is making me
appreciate my family, and especially my mother, for sending me on this
voyage feeling loved. Families - the students are talking about you,
thinking about you, and pondering what messages they'd like to share with
you. That foundation allows the students and I to face each new day with an
open mind, and embrace our little community with an open heart. Last night,
after a very long day of trainings (from line handling and lab safety to
boat check and going aloft), I was floored by the talent of 4 of our
students (Nathanial, Casey, Hunter, and Zeke) who found some instruments
stored aboard the ship, and just started jamming. Friendship bracelets are
being exchanged left and right. Honestly, even if this ship never left the
port of Tahiti (and it will, soon), we wouldn't be languishing. Living on
the ship is fun, and living on it together is fulfilling in ways I didn't

Sending you good vibrations,
Beth Mendenhall, Policy Faculty

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