Picture Credit: Michael Jarosz, www.500px.com/mikejarosz
On a cloudy afternoon in January 2014, 600 college students from around the world gathered near the port of Santiago, Chile to embark on the journey of a lifetime. These students were about to step foot aboard the MV Explorer, a 590 foot, 25,000 ton ship for the next 120 days. This ship would serve as their resident hall and classroom as they set out to complete an academic semester entirely on board a ship while traveling around the world. VIU’s very own School of Business professor Dr. Chandra Ranade was an integral part of the team, serving as an economics professor aboard the ship. “We taught economics, religion, politics, and how each of these aspects help shape a country. What’s fascinating was the fact that as we were giving lectures about it, our ship was actually traveling to that country. The experience of being able to look at that country not through a map in the confines of a classroom, but to actually be near that country and move around among the region’s people and to mix with the culture was such a dramatic experience,” said Dr. Ranade. Over a span of four months, the ship sailed from Japan, through the dense forest of the Amazon River, around the coast of India and across the gigantic Pacific, to Iceland and then Mauritius, circumnavigating the globe, fulfilling the purpose of building the insight necessary for understanding our increasingly complex and interdependent world. Most often the students aboard the ship could be found on the decks or staring out cabin windows awestruck, as they often awoke to new countries and new experiences. The ship, which holds up to 836 passengers, is one of the fastest of its kind. “One morning students woke to find the ship had docked in a small coconut port in the Ivory Coast. The previous morning the ship was near the sand dunes of Liberia almost 270 miles away!” Dr. Ranade recalled.
Like the students, Dr. Ranade was also fascinated by the sights. However, his classroom experiences with VIU students prepared him for the sights he would see. While he was teaching classes at VIU the semester prior to his trip, Dr. Ranade learned a lot about different countries and their cultures through the diversified range of nationalities of VIU students. “Weeks before the trip, VIU students kept coming to me with such interesting insights about their own countries. I was amazed and while I and a pack of 600 American students visited those places for ourselves, I could easily identify things I had heard and things they told me that I would see. One of my Burmese students at VIU talked about pagodas. In Burma, and when I was actually there, I was amazed at the details she provided about myriads of pagodas A student body across the globe helped me realize that we now truly live in a universal community.”