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Olin College Student Chosen for SEA Semester in New Zealand

Olin College sophomore Isaac Vandor is part of a select group of undergraduates who are spending the fall sailing in New Zealand, as part of the SEA Semester: The Global Ocean. The goal of the study abroad program offered by Sea Education Association (SEA) is to better understand one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century: human impacts on the environment.  

Onboard a tall ship Vandor will explore first-hand the environmental and complex cultural influences that have shaped the islands around New Zealand.

The class arrived in early September for six weeks of preparatory coursework on shore at SEA Semester’s campus in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. On Nov. 12, the students boarded the SSV Robert C. Seamans, SEA’s 134-foot brigantine, in Auckland, New Zealand to begin a six-week coastal and blue water voyage.

As an island nation, the health of New Zealand’s ocean, land, and people are inextricably connected. New Zealand has made a national commitment to sustainable management of its marine resources. Through planned port stops including Auckland, Napier, and the Kermadec Islands, the students will attempt to understand how centuries of seaborne commerce, fishing, and land development have influenced the natural environment of these coastal zones and offshore waters. They will also examine the relationship between different cultural groups and the ocean environment that surrounds them.

The Global Ocean also focuses on leadership and teamwork skills in a dynamic environment. During their voyage, the SSV Robert C. Seamans will serve as home, classroom, and laboratory. On board, students will become full working members of the ship’s crew, sharing responsibilities for standing watch, processing oceanographic samples, navigating by the stars, and participating in round-the-clock operations under the guidance of professional mariners and oceanographers.