Welcome to American Samoa and the Robert C. Seamans, Class of S-288!
Late last night, one of the two weekly flights from Hawai’I to American Samoa arrived at the Pago Pago airport with 26 special visitors: the SEA Semester class of S288. The students (and all of their gear!) boarded one of the fanciest buses on the island, open air, with custom bright paintings of the island’s steep jungle mountains and crashing South Pacific surf. The bus rolled slowly along a curving seaside road, headed to the Student Sailing Vessel (SSV) Robert C. Seamans docked in Pago Pago harbor. This is the sailing vessel these students will call home for the next six weeks. Bleary eyed after a day of traveling, yet buzzing with excitement, the students of S-288 were introduced briefly to the ship’s most important safety features and how to use the heads. Then they went to sleep.
Students experience a traditional Samoan family feast, the umu.
This morning, 26 new crewmembers awoke on their ship for the first time. Gazing out their portholes, they saw a blustery day with a streaming rain, wind and waves blowing into the Pago Pago harbor. With the dawn, they realized that they were on a boat off of a small island in the middle of the South Pacific, about to embark on a true adventure.
We’re excited to welcome these 26 students, as they transition from class on shore in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to a sailing journey across the South Pacific. The class of S-288 will sail from American Samoa, to Tonga, to Fiji, to New Zealand. Along our way, we’ll experience and interact with cultures and ecosystems across the South Pacific as we explore concepts of sustainability in the context of environmental change.
We’ve expanded our learning community here. The students of S-288 now join a team of professional crew on the ship—new mentors and teachers on their journey. We also open our perspectives to new people and places that have already shown us deep hospitality and generosity. On this first day of our program, we headed off to the home of a good friend, artist, and teacher on the island who welcomed us into her family’s home, and treated us all to a traditional Samoan meal (feast!), the umu.
Welcome S-288 as you begin your voyage and your adventure! For family and friends back home, please follow along with us here on our class blog. Much more to come!
- Chief Scientist, Kerry Whittaker