Today is day three on the ship since we have left Norway. It has been an incredibly busy few days (mostly because we are drama folks). Our first evening back on the ship we had a talent show rehearsal. We have about an hour of shipboard community performances and then for an hour the crew performs. The rehearsal went really well. The Resident Director, Margaret, who was in charge of coordinating the event was fantastic and so "type A" organized that we were in and out of there in just over an hour. I just went to help coach a little and give some pointers. Then the following night was the talents show and we were preparing for the pre TEDx events so we were coaching two of our speakers that were scheduled to present at that event. In the meantime we were prepping for SEA OLYMPICS. This is a huge day for the entire shipboard community. Geno and I wrote and directed our sea cheer with help from another team captain, Amber. I choreographed and performed in the synchronized swimming event and we did the relay event where our portion was charades. The students are split into "seas" when they arrive on the ship so they compete against other seas as well as the Life Long Learners and the Facutly, Staff and dependents. Our sea this year was the Black Sea, but we had the nickname Sea-lebreties. The students have actual sea names like the Baltic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, etc.
We begin, of course with an opening ceremony. The children on the ship bring in the Olympic flag and the torch (made of poster board and construction paper flames) is run in by one of the children. Fantastic!
There is something for everyone on Sea Olympics day. The events that I can remember were Synchronized Swimming, Lip Sync, Sudoku, Basketball, Table Tennis, Relay, Trivia, Wiki-War (doing Wikipedia research), Frozen T-Shirt (literally a t-shirt frozen in a block of ice…who can thaw it and put it on first), a variation on rock paper scissors, Volleyball (one of the professors has 4 stitches on his head from diving for the ball), Standup Comedy and many others.
We had such a fun day helping with the events and participating. This is a day on the ship with no classes but it turns into a VERY busy day. We began rehearsing at 7am for the cheer, lip sync and synchronized swimming (and we had lost an hour because of the direction we are traveling). The ceremonies started at 10 and went all day until 6pm when the winners were announced. The Sea-lebreties took home the SILVER MEDAL!!!!
At 6pm, after the competition, I coached my speaker, Julie Engerann for the Pre TEDx event and the she presented at 7pm. She did such a beautiful job. Julie works in the field office and her talk was about her journey with cancer. One year ago today she was diagnosed and has since had her thyroid removed and had a hysterectomy and is now cancer free. It was a very dramatic and moving story and I was so proud of her last night.
After the TEDx event there was a poetry reading at 8pm. Fernando Opere (who sailed with us in 2010) has recently joined the voyage as a guest lecturer and was reading from the book of poems he has just published. While we were traveling around the world together in 2010 he wrote a series of poems about our journey and now has a book called Around the World in 80 Poems. We purchased the book last night. I can't wait to read more!
Our day ended with a 9pm faculty meeting. We came down to classroom 9 and the whole room was filled with warm appetizers, cheeses, vegetable trays and wine. WOW! Dean David really takes care of us! I have found the faculty meetings to basically be a love fest. The faculty we are traveling with is so positive and hilarious! We did talk about some serious issues, one being traveling to Russia. The deans and staff are taking this very seriously and we are having a total of three mandatory meetings, one tonight about traveling to Moscow (Geno is a leader on that trip), one pre-port meeting tonight about logistics, and one diplomatic briefing tomorrow with a diplomat that will board the ship to talk to the students about safety, etc.
With all the events going on with the Malaysian Airlines plane being shot down by a Russian missile and the conflict with the Ukraine, ISE (Institute for Shipboard Education) is being very cautious and informative. An email has gone out to the parents of our students informing them about the precautions being taken while we are in Russia. I think there is a little nervous energy on the ship, but we know ISE would never allow us to be in a dangerous situation.
Because of where we are going I think our antenna are up for anything out of the ordinary, and yesterday while we were out on the back pool deck for a Sea Olympics event a fighter jet flew over our ship. The jet was very low. It then circled back around and flew by us again, this time the plane tipped to face us as they were circling. Well, of course, our hearts were in our throats! The noise of the plane, the fact it was flying low, and that it was a fighter jet were frightening. It is probably more alarming than normal too because we hardly ever see any planes, especially not ones this close. Our Executive Dean came on the PA system a few minutes later and announced that it was a NATO jet and there was nothing to be alarmed about. Whew!
Tomorrow we get to St. Petersburg. We travel into Moscow with an SAS trip for 3 days and then come back to St. Petersburg to explore. More to come!