Wade Colburn '14 Spends Semester Circumnavigating the Globe

As I sit here in my typical spot aboard the MV Explorer, I am reflecting on the last and most recent port of Morocco. It is hard to believe that this journey is near its end. It has provided me an extraordinary opportunity to travel all around the world with some of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life.

A few years ago, Wade Colburn ‘14 thought that his dream of spending time abroad while in college was unobtainable due to the intense demands of biomedical engineering and his lack of language skills. However, when presented with the option of traveling with the Semester at Sea program, it seemed that Colburn had found the study abroad option for him.

Wade Colburn with Archbishop Desmond Tutu during their time at sea.

“Some people believe that complete immersion in a single country is the only way to study abroad,” Colburn says. “I must say that you can experience and interact with a new culture in a matter of days. I get to learn about something in one of my classes and then see it firsthand in a port.”

Colburn’s semester abroad has allowed him to pursue his academics, while, at the same time, visiting places such as Singapore, India, Vietnam, and Myanmar. The unique educational experience offered to Colburn allows him to relate real world experiences to his learning on the ship.

Wade Colburn during an in-country field excursion in India.

In the evenings, Semester at Sea students often attend two educational events: one focuses on the current host country, and the other, called the Unreasonable at Sea Fireside Chats, involves conversations with mentors. Taking advantage of the occasions presented to him, Colburn has developed relationships with many of the mentors. He recently planned a Palm Sunday service for his shipmates with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“The people that I have interacted with — including students, faculty, lifelong learners, and mentors — have all impacted my life in some way on this voyage,” says Colburn.

Story by Lindsey Rosenbaum