Semester at Sea: 4 continents and a 100-day voyage |

Semester at Sea: 4 continents and a 100-day voyage

Hot air balloons take flight over Myanmar.
Photo courtesy Glory Burns

Ballooning over ancient temples in Myanmar, orphanage visits in Cambodia, attending a Holi Color Festival in India, wine tasting at the oldest vineyard in South Africa — those are just some of the adventures Steamboat Springs resident Glory Burns experienced as a Semester at Sea professor last spring, while chaperoning 500 college kids from 200 universities to 14 countries.   

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“You’d be surprised how many locals are alumni of this program,” she said, adding that 16 students and two faculty members have since visited her in Steamboat. “Moose Barrows taught in the program in 1977 and met with the last group.”   

With the world as its classroom, the program integrates multiple-country study, interdisciplinary coursework and hands-on field experience in the global community. Over a 100-day voyage on a shipboard campus, students take coursework integrated with foreign field classes for a true experiential, comparative education. Last year’s trip covered 25,000 nautical miles and four continents.

With her husband, Mike, joining her for most of the trip, Burns said Myanmar was her favorite of the countries visited.

“It let us view their rich Buddhist tradition, ancient culture and stunning natural beauty,” she said. “And the students got to learn the realities of a developing nation, whose people were very gracious and welcoming.”    

The highlight of the trip, she added, was hot air ballooning over the pagodas of Bagan, the capital of the northern plains and one of the wealthiest empires in Myanmar. It still harbors stone stupas, temples and monasteries.

“From the air, we could see the panoramic skyline of temples, watch local farmers working their fields and follow the train of colorful pony carts on the dusty roads we covered the day before,” she said.

The Semester at Sea crew finding solace on terra firma.
Courtesy photo
The boat that served as their home and school hall.

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