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Semester at Sea for Diamond Springs student

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CARL HUGHES, center, and two friends pose for a photograph with Kofi Opoku, right, and his "Gift to the World" rain forest in Ghana. Courtesy photo

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From page A1 | November 06, 2013 | Leave Comment

Carl Hughes, from Diamond Springs, is in South Africa at the moment. Or maybe Buenos Aires. Wherever he is at the moment, it’s only for the moment, as Hughes is participating in Semester at Sea, a floating university that travels to 17 cities in 15 countries in the course of 115 days. Students receive college credit for their participation and an opportunity to learn about the world while seeing it.

Hughes, 19, is a 2012 Union Mine High School graduate and has been attending Oregon State University in Corvallis, majoring in civil engineering.

“Applying to Semester at Sea was a difficult decision, but I am glad that I did,” e-mailed Hughes from abroad. “I wanted to explore the world and see how different people from different backgrounds live and communicate with one another.”

While his family, parents James and Mary and younger brother, Ryan, are back in Diamond Springs, Hughes is seeing things and people he never imagined.

One of Hughes’ most memorable experiences so far on the voyage was a visit to Kofi Opoku in Ghana. Opoku grew up in Ghana and attended graduate school in the United States. He took Hughes and two friends to tour his “Gift to the World” rainforest. “He could name each species of plant living in the forest and he knew the medicinal purposes that each one contained,” wrote Hughes. “He is preserving this 36-acre forest for future generations to study because the forests nearby are quickly becoming developed.”

Hughes is taking Professor Ralph Allen’s “Water for the World” course on board the ship. The class explores the global state of water and learns how water is managed in each of the countries they visit. “After earning my degree, I would like to work within water resource engineering. Water is more scarce than we have been led to believe and I think this will become more evident in my lifetime,” he said.

In Lisbon, Portugal, Hughes had an opportunity to meet with Portuguese professors and learn firsthand about the successes and failures of the Lisbon water distribution system.

Semester at Sea is celebrating 50 years of shipboard education in 2013. Students who participate must be full-time students in a degree-granting program at an accredited college. They must have a 2.75 grade point average and have completed one full term at a post secondary level.

The ship, the MV Explorer, is a 590-foot-long vessel with seven decks. It houses about 720 students each voyage and has a student union, wireless Internet, a 9,000-volume library and a faculty that has included Pulitzer-Prize winners, internationally recognized experts, world leaders, TED speakers and professors from Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, MIT and the University of Virginia.

Hughes and his fellow students embarked upon the MV Explorer at  Southampton, England, on Aug. 24 and have since been to St. Petersburg, Russia; Hamburg, Germany; Antwerp, Belgium; Le Havre, France; Dublin, Ireland; Lisbon, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Casablanca, Morocco; and Takoradi, Ghana. They will continue to Capetown, South Africa; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Brazil; and Havana, Cuba, before ending the voyage on Dec. 16 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I think this voyage has changed me and will continue to do so,” wrote Hughes. “Before now, I had only been outside of the U.S. for housebuilding mission trips to northern Mexico. Learning how other people and other cultures live has taught me more about the things that I value in life. SAS has cemented my feelings that happiness is best made through the relationships that you make with family and friends.”

For more information about SAS, visit the Website at semesteratsea.org.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or wschultz@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.

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