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Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers.

SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans


Jul

23

Mental Toughness

Carmen Chan, A Watch, Cornell University
Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Me exploring the island of Kanton while I was ashore

Ship's Log

Location
Kanton Pier, Kanton Island

Ship’s Heading & Speed
Docked at Kanton Island

Sail Plan
Leaving Kanton Island and continuing with our sail

Weather
Cloudy

Souls on Board

Nothing about SEA Semester is easy. From memorizing all 54 lines of the ship, dealing with sea sickness while still expected to complete your responsibilities, to doing daily clean ups in steaming hot weather after 6 hours of dawn watch, every task pushes me beyond my limits. There are days I feel incapable, times I'm upset, moments I miss home incredibly, but what encourages me to face new challenges during the start of every morning is what Cassie, our Chief Mate who was our Watch Officer, said to my watch the first day: "What you gain out of this experience depends on the amount of effort you put in. My job is to guide you. Your job is to learn. If I were you, I would make the most out of it before it's gone."

That could have been just a random thought that came to her, but she was right. There are always two sides to the same story. You can either see the half- filled cup of water positively or negatively. Now that I've made it here, I should appreciate this experience of a lifetime. Inspired by that, I decided to pick one thing to look forward to every day to better transition myself to the routine of the ship. As days went by, I slowly checked off my list: gazing at the stars, watching the sunset from the head rig, going aloft, being Assistant Steward, making a sailor's bracelet with ropes from the ship, anchoring at Kanton.It went pretty well the first two weeks until I was running out of items for which I could be excited. It finally hit me yesterday, during which I was feeling very off for no reason. While everyone in my watch was excited to go ashore in the afternoon, all I wanted was to finish up my work so I could enjoy myself in my own personal bubble later. So, I volunteered to stay onboard the ship to work on my journal assignment.

You might think we have plenty of opportunities for solitude, but alone time is actually hard to find within a tight space and busy schedule.  With two-thirds of the people gone for snorkeling and ashore adventures, I was very ready to curl into a ball to hold my own "one-person party" for just me and myself. But, that party only lasted for two minutes because unwillingly, I dragged myself out of the ship after Barbara Ann invited me to do interviews with the local people in Kanton for our group project.

We ran into a group of ten or so children and their family very shortly, for which I decided to stay whereas Barbara Ann headed off in another direction to talk to a local teacher. I didn't want to intrude, so I stood there silently watching the children interacting while their dad and uncle were fishing for the family. However, my foreign presence still drew their attention. The children turned around, looked at me with widened eyes, so I waved and smiled "mauri", which means "hi" in Kiribati. That simple hi soon evolved into minutes and hours of hand clapping games, chasing around each other, singing, and dancing. Though in exhaustion and extreme soreness afterwards, playing with them reminded me of my childhood; through them, I have found my long lost joy and peace as a child, a missing puzzle piece I have been searching for since I've been on this ship. Simplicity has never been so beautiful. Happiness has never felt so real and pure. We did not have any toys, but with our bare hands, we crafted more than we could ever ask for.

Some days are harder. Some days are easier. But now is beautiful. I looked over at the vast ocean, and I'm glad that I applied to this program. "Be present," I told myself. "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

ALSO, HUGE SHOUTOUT TO MY DAD AND MY BEST FRIEND, HAILEY SOKOLOFF, WHO HAVE THEIR BIRTHDAYS TODAY (July 23rd). I miss you, and I love you.

- Carmen

Previous entry: Family    Next entry: What’s in a Name?

Comments

Leave a note for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Rodney chan & Mimen Lo on July 25, 2017

Carmen, my dearest kid, mom and I are always proud of you.  What you have experienced in this voyage is so wonderful and should be memorable in your whole lifetime. Keep on ... See you in Hawaii . Mom & Dad


#2. Posted by Skip Heerkens on July 25, 2017

Hi Barbie—Hope you are well—would like to hear from you
and describe some of your days and chores. I’m so happy for
you that I have tears in my eyes. Love Lezy, me and all


#3. Posted by Hailey on July 27, 2017

Carmen,

You are an inspiration to me, and surely all who you meet. This post is so beautifully written, just like you. You are the most positive, strong person I know. I don’t know how I got so lucky as to meet you.

Thank you so much for the birthday shoutout. So incredibly honored to call you best friend. I love you and miss you more than words could say.

-Hailey


#4. Posted by Sammy on August 14, 2017

Hey little sister just to be honest I didn’t read any of that…you know how my English is…don’t really want to pull out the dictionary


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