Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oh wait, I'm not done yet!

Hello again friends. I’ve been back on the main land for almost two weeks now but I need to fill you in on the end of my journey. I had great plans of spending the final crossing by writing stories and posting photos of shipboard life along the way but work actually got in the way. So, lets review. We had just left Kobe and our ten-day crossing to Hawaii started off nicely.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with a better that usual meal and some of us dressed up a bit to enjoy dinner with our shipboard family. Thanksgiving dinner with GH and AH

We crossed the International Date Line on the 28th so we had 2 Saturdays – it just seemed like another day really. Some students and staff joked about wearing the same clothes and having the same meals to have a true groundhog day. One of the big responsibilities of one of my co-workers was the SAS annual fundraising drive and auction that occurred on the 2nd 28th. It was a great success with 100% participation and nearly $43,000.00 raised from the shipboard community.

The book used for the class I became a TA for.

I forget if I have mentioned it along the way but as the academic support Living Learning Coordinator I was asked to facilitate review sessions for the global studies class halfway through the semester. Well during this final crossing I was asked by the academic dean to create a study guide for the final. I’ll be the first to admit my job was really great and pretty easy – until then. I asked for support in creating the study-guide. As I did not receive notes from the professor, they were all just what I took from the lecture. I was worried about providing wrong information or telling students to study info that would not be covered. While I have always had a flair for the dramatic I’ll spare you the back and forth with my supervisor and the academic dean. I had a few stressful days but the students seemed to appreciate it and the over all grades turned out better than the midterm. By the time we arrived to Hawaii the exam was over and I was ready for a few days of rest, relaxation and sunshine.

We arrived in Honolulu very early on December 4th so early that my supervisor told us to be ready to work at 6am. Ouch. Along the journey we had heard conflicting things about our arrival to Hawaii, it was after all our return to US soil for the first time. At one point we were all prepared to go through customs and immigration and then have a quick and easy arrival to San Diego. In the end we just had to deal with immigration in Honolulu- customs would happen in San Diego after all. The immigration officials came on board and as we had done many times before, facilitated the process of every passenger coming through the faculty staff lounge and getting their passport stamped. Finally the ship was cleared and we were off on our way. I joined HM from the field office and PL one of the ship psychologists for a hike up Diamond Head.
I love PL- she is amazing we had great conversation as we made our way up the trail. From there we got lunch and then spent a few hours at the beach in Waikiki where AB joined us as well. I had to get back for duty that night and I was expecting the worst but hoping for the best. It all turned out great as I didn’t get a single call- I actually woke up at 8am and checked to make sure that I had not pulled my phone out of the wall when I put it closer to my bed the night before.

For our second day in Honolulu I again went back to Waikiki to get more sun. The Living Learning Team all met at Bucca DiBeppo for our final meal together before we would all part ways in San Diego. It was a great meal with plenty of laughs as has come to be expected with our group. After that it was back to the ship for re-embarkation, as we would make a short overnight journey to Hilo, Hawaii- a small city on the southern side of the big island.
Grace running through the port terminal to make sure she gets back on the ship in time.

We didn’t have to do anything for disembarkation so the morning was quick and easy. AB and I joined a SAS trip on a half-day volcano tour that I really didn’t care for. The weather was overcast and a bit on the rainy side so all I was thinking was how much I wanted to still be in Honolulu. Hilo didn’t have much to offer and it's terrible to say but I was just ready to go home at that point.

On the second day in Hilo SAS hosted the largest 5k Fun Run Hilo has ever had! The former Miss Hawaii who now works at the Mayor’s office even came to start off the run. It was a celebration of our journey and a fundraiser for the students of service program “The $100 Solution” We had a great turn out with nearly 300 members of the shipboard community registered. Being the stubborn and competitive person I am I decided not to run but to volunteer instead. I stood at the 1K point and directed the runners along the way. With the 5k over, it was time to board the ship for the last time. The LLT took our positions for one last time and welcomed students back. I told students to get a good final swipe and enjoy the long walk up the gangway stairs for the last time. Some laughed and a few even cried as they got a bit emotional as our voyage had come to an end. Terrence followed my directions and made sure to get a good final swipe in.

We had heard that a bad storm was approaching and there were rumors of being stuck in Hilo for an extra day or maybe even going up to Canada instead of San Diego. As we ate dinner the dean of students came over the ship PA system called the LLT into an emergency meeting that night to be followed by full a shipboard community meeting. The LLT gathered in one of the classrooms that is on the main hallway of the ship and to make it even better has large glass doors so everyone walking by could see us with our serious faces as Byron told us the plan. Being sworn to secrecy until the shipboard meeting we all walked out of the meeting in silence making the students near by spin with ideas of what was coming.

A short time later we all filed into the union and waited for the news. Executive Dean Nick began by confirming the weather reports saying that sailing in the next few days was in no way a safety concern but just a comfort concern. After much conversation with the ship’s Captain and the ISE main office it was determined that the best choice would be to RETURN TO HONOLULU FOR AN EXTRA DAY! It was really a great moment to see the excitement of the students and faculty and staff for that matter with the news. The academic schedule was not changed so the extra day in Honolulu still served as a study day and the first day of finals would still occur two days later.
I spent my extra day again hiking and beaching with HM and PL. I also got a GREAT plate of nachos that made up for the four chips with cheese on them that I had in Tokyo.

The LLT made our way back to the ship to welcome everyone back on board for one last time (again). Spirits were high and everyone seemed to appreciate of bonus day. Homeward bound!

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